Dr. Michael Milanovic

Dr Michael Milanovic

Dr Michael Milanovic is the Chief Executive of Cambridge ESOL, a position he has held since May 2003.  Dr. Milanovic has an MA in Applied Linguistics and a PhD in the same field, focusing on performance-based assessment.  He has been working in language education and assessment since 1977 and joined UCLES in 1989.

As Chief Executive Dr. Milanovic is responsible for the world’s leading range of English language examinations and qualifications for English Language teachers.  He is the Manager of the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE) and co-editor of Studies in Language Testing published by Cambridge University Press.

Dr Milanovic has been involved with the CEFR since its inception. He participated in the 1991 Rüschlikon Intergovernmental Symposium which witnessed the inception of reference levels and was a member of the Council of Europe Advisory Group which oversaw the development of the CEFR throughout the 1990s. His pioneering initiative, the English Profile Program, is perceived as an essential extension of the CEFR.


Using the CEFR: Principles of Good Practice


This opening plenary session will provide an overview of the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) and introduce a number of important themes which will be taken up in the other sessions during the conference. In setting the scene Dr. Milanovic will provide a brief history of the CEFR and outline the ways in which it has continued to evolve since its publication 10 years ago (CUP/Didier, 2001).

The CEFR was the result of developments in language education that date back to the 1970s and which contributed to fundamental changes in language teaching. These developments saw a move away from grammar-translation to the functional/notional approach which now underpins communicative language teaching and assessment. The “action-oriented approach” and the six reference levels (A1 to C2) in the CEFR have proved to be very successful, and the book itself has been translated into more than 37 languages. It has also continued to develop and, in the years since publication, the so called “CEFR toolkit” has emerged, which includes a number of manuals and other materials designed to help users implement it in their own contexts.

Dr. Milanovic will highlight some fundamental principles in using the CEFR and give examples of good practices. A major strength of the Framework is that it provides a  common basis for collaboration in language education and gives practitioners a “common language” for addressing important issues, such as proficiency levels. He will also caution that it is essential to understand the CEFR as an open system which needs to be adapted to meet the needs of specific contexts. This is particularly true when considering the language being learned, e.g. English rather than French or Arabic. One of the most important ways in which the CEFR continues to evolve is in the production of language-specific Reference Level Descriptions (RLDs).