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Identity matters in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and its Companion Volume

Byram, Michael (2021) 'Identity matters in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and its Companion Volume.', The Language Learning Journal .


The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has been a major influence on language teaching in Europe and beyond and its Companion Volume will probably have the same significance. It is important therefore that education professionals understand the underlying concepts, including the conceptualisation of the language user/learner. This article analyses the concept of learners' identities against the background of the Council of Europe's policy of social inclusion, which became significant between the dates of publication of the two documents. It demonstrates that the CEFR has a more nuanced and detailed concept of identity than the Companion Volume, and that the suggestion in the Companion Volume that teachers do not need to know the CEFR itself is problematic. The CEFR works with a concept of social and personal identity. The Companion Volume lacks such a concept, and an analysis of pluricultural competence in search of clarification of how a ‘pluricultural person' is conceptualised proves unsuccessful. The relationship between ‘pluricultural' and ‘plurilingual’ is not fully addressed in the CEFR, nor developed further in the Companion Volume. There is still a need for a rich description of the identities of learners and of the notion of pluricultural competence.

Item Type:Article
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Available under License - Creative Commons Attribution 4.0.
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Publisher statement:This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.
Date accepted:No date available
Date deposited:No date available
Date of first online publication:30 November 2021
Date first made open access:No date available

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