Developmental Stages and the CEFR Levels in Foreign Language Learners’ Speaking and Writing

Yumiko Yamaguchi


This paper aims to investigate foreign language learners’ speaking and writing based on a second language acquisition (SLA) theory and the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR; Council of Europe, 2001). While the CEFR has been widely used as a reference instrument in foreign language education, there has been insufficient empirical research undertaken on the CEFR levels (e.g., Hulstijin, 2007; Wisniewski, 2017). Also, few studies have examined how the CEFR levels relate to the developmental stages predicted in SLA theories. In this study, spoken and written narratives performed by 60 Japanese learners of English are examined based on one of the major SLA theories, namely Processability Theory (PT; Pienemann, 1998, 2005; Bettoni & Di Biase, 2015), as well as on the CEFR. Results show that the Japanese L1 learners acquire English syntax as predicted in PT in both speaking and writing. In addition, there seems to be a linear correlation between the CEFR levels and PT stages. However, it is also found that the learners at the highest PT stage are not necessarily at a higher CEFR level.

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