Japanse studies

KU Leuven, faculteit Letteren

Project on Language Activities and Competences of the CEFR B1 Level


Project on Language Activities and Competences of the CEFR B1 Level
The “Project on Language Activities and Competences of the CEFR B1 Level” is a joint research project of the Departments of Japanese Studies at the University of Leuven and the University of Stendhal-Grenoble 3. This project aims at the construction of a versatile and reliable CEFR B (intermediate) level curriculum. Below, we provide an overview of the project as well as its results. 

Project coordinators
University of Stendhal-Grenoble 3, Tomoko Higashi
University of Leuven, Naoko Sakurai


1. Project background

When in 2001 the Council of Europe published the “Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching and Assessment”, a contextualization based on its principles was initiated in the administrative and educational institutions of each European linguistic area. Moreover, in classroom situations a contextualization was carried out with a view of aligning courses, curriculums and evaluations with the CEFR. Accordingly, efforts toward contextualization are being developed within Japanese language education. This contextualization is promoted in various ways, involving individual institutions, courses and teachers preparing classes and teaching materials, and has already produced results.

However, as regards the CEFR B intermediate level, research and practice are still limited. The reason for this is that, compared to the beginner’s level A, it is difficult to design a curriculum based on a clear understanding of the competences required from students at this level.  The primary factors complicating an understanding of level B are that, in order to undertake language activities at this stage, not only linguistic competences, but also other capabilities such as strategies and individual linguistic experiences need to be addressed. Moreover, proficiency differences regarding the learners’ individual skills increase and situations where they are requested to perform language activities expand, which complicates topical, lexical and situational setups.

Consequently, this may give rise to the concern that courses and teaching materials established for level B at individual institutions cannot be claimed to be of an equivalent level. Therefore, in order to gain a clearer understanding of level B and link it to educational activities, we felt the need to conduct an investigation and analysis into this level by creating opportunities for joint research departing from differing viewpoints of teachers at various institutions. Against such a background, this 4-year project was launched in March 2010.

2. Project features

The following 4 points are characteristic for the activities of this joint research project:

  1. Japanese language teachers having diverse backgrounds set apart by their Japanese language educational experience, position on Japanese language research and educational goals of their affiliations, are cooperatively involved in preparing the curriculum.
  2. While taking distance from existing Japanese language textbooks and teaching materials, the project is carried out by constantly relying on and referring to the CEFR as its starting point.
  3. The CEFR takes an action-oriented approach as its basic stance. Therefore, attention is given to the actual language activities of the students and combined with the curriculum.
  4. By adding mediating activities (oral and written), in addition to receptive, productive and interactive ones, the project considers 8 language activities. Also the CEFR explicitly states the importance of mediating activities and views Europe to be the geographical area where students will most likely put the Japanese language to practice.

3. Program fiscal year 2010 (March 2010 – March 2011)

During fiscal year 2010, the project’s first year, in total 37 meetings, among which 3 joint meetings, were held with regards to the following 3 points:

  • Analysis of level B1 spoken productive activities.
  • Implementation and study of the pre-questionnaire survey of Japanese- language learners in Europe for the compilation of a curriculum.
  • Launch and development of activities for preparing a “sentence patterns map” in order to derive guidance items.

The results were summarized in a report in March 2011 with a central focus on the following three questions:

  • In what way are level B1 students conversing?
  • In what kind of situations are students talking Japanese?
  • What kind of level is level B1?

Activity report of fiscal year 2010

4. Program fiscal year 2011 (April 2011 – March 2012)

During fiscal year 2011, the project’s second year, the following activities were held and summarized in a report in March 2012.

  • Analysis of level B1 written productive activities and study of guidance items
  • Implementation and study of research activities of European Japanese-language learners
  • Drafting of curriculum

Activity report of fiscal year 2011

5. Program fiscal year 2012 (April 2012 – March 2013)

Analysis and consideration of data with respect to receptive activities (reading, listening) of B1 students.

Activity report of fiscal year 2012

6. Program fiscal year 2013 (April 2013-March 2014)

Implementation of pilot lessons according to the findings from last three years of researche.

Activity report of fiscal year 2013


7. Project Member


7. References


櫻井直子・東伴子(2011)「CEFR Bレベルの言語活動・能力を考えるプロジェクト-―その多面的アプローチとやり取り場面の語彙使用からの考察―」The 13th International Conference of EAJS, August 24-27,2011,Tallinn, Estonia

東伴子・櫻井直子(2012)「CEFR B1レベルの産出活動におけるモダリティ表現」Japanese Language Education in Europe: Vol. 17. Workshop on Japanese language education utilizing CEFR and JF standard for Japanese-language. London, 24-25 August 2012 (pp. 59-66)Association of Japanese Language Teachers in Europe

Acknowledgements: this project is funded by the Japan Foundation Sakura Network Team’s Grant Program for Promoting Japanese Language.

copyright Ⓒ 2010 by B1 project team

All rights reserved. No part of this publication and its data may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording,, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the project team.