The John Trim Collection

Mr Trim donated his personal collection of books and documents relating to his lifetime’s work on languages to the documentation and resource centre of the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) in 2004. He personally inaugurated the collection, on 16 September 2005 during celebrations for the ECML’s 10th Anniversary.

ECML library resources

The John Trim collection consists of more than 3 200 resources, notably;

  • documentation on the work of the Council of Europe conducted between 1971 and 1997, especially of the Modern Languages Projects (congress proceedings, studies, workshop reports)
  • studies related to the development of the Threshold Levels and the Common European Framework of Reference
  • educational resources in the field of teacher education, linguistics, psychology, psycholinguistics, sociology, sociolinguistics, translation, language education, modern language teaching and learning, learner-centered teaching, the language teacher, languages for specific purposes, language education and technology, and didactic materials.


What makes this collection unique

John Trim was closely associated with the work of the Council of Europe which actually began in the 1960s. In the mid 1970s he headed a project group that developed the fundamental guiding principles of language teaching and learning that still underpin our work today. The projects under John’s expert guidance were characterised by radical innovation in the 1970s and 1980s, with the development and dissemination of new ideas and what became widely known as ‘the Council of Europe approach’. Under John’s guidance the Council of Europe’s work became the single most influential factor in the reforms in course design, textbook authorship, testing and examinations, and teacher training that occurred throughout Europe. The impact of planning tools such ‘Threshold Level’, Waystage, Vantage was unique. Threshold level descriptions of communicative objectives were elaborated for over 30 national or regional languages. John’s untiring personal guidance to the authoring teams for these languages represents a unique contribution to the promotion of linguistic diversity and mutual understanding in Europe.

Thematic bibliographies (books, recordings)

E.1. Reference   E.9. Language education
E.2. International cooperation   E.10. Foreign language teaching  
E.3. Linguistics   E.11. Language orientated teaching
E.4. Psychology   E.12. Foreign language teacher
E.5. Psycholinguistics   E.13. Foreign language learning  
E.6. Sociology   E.14. Languages for specific purposes
E.7. Sociolinguistics   E.15. Language education and technology
E.8. Translation studies   E.16. Teaching resources 

Archive boxes on the work of the Council of Europe conducted between 1971 and 1997 (reports, proceedings, studies, working documents)

Work is underway on this new section.

 Archive boxes  Content description
and keywords
 List of documents Box no. 
 Council of Europe documents 1960-1969   PDF  Excel  15.01
 Council of Europe documents 1969-1970  PDF  Excel  15.02
 Council of Europe documents 1970-1971      15.03
 Council of Europe documents 1971 (Rüschlikon)      15.04
 Council of Europe documents 1972
 Council of Europe documents (St Wolfgang)      15.06
 Council of Europe documents 1972-1973      15.07
 Council of Europe documents 1973      15.08
 Council of Europe documents 1974  PDF  Excel  15.09
 Council of Europe documents 1975      15.10
 Council of Europe documents 1976-1977      
 Council of Europe documents 1978-1979      
 Council of Europe documents 1980      
 Council of Europe documents 1981-1982      
 Council of Europe documents 1982-1983      
 Council of Europe documents 1984-1985      
 Council of Europe documents 1986-1989  PDF  Excel  17.17
 Council of Europe documents 1987-1988      
 Council of Europe documents 1989-1991      
 Council of Europe documents 1992-1993      
 Council of Europe documents 1994      
 Council of Europe documents 1994-1995  PDF  Excel  18.21
 Council of Europe documents 1996      
 Council of Europe documents 1997-2000      
 Council of Europe - Languages for special purposes      
 Coucil of Europe - Swedish materials (1967-1974)  PDF  Excel  19.26
 Council of Europe Modern languages Project,
 Objectives Specifications: 691/3b Documents A-G (1976-1979)
 PDF  Excel  20.29
 Council of Europe Modern languages Project,
 Objectives Specifications: 691/3b Documents I-S (1977-1981)
 PDF  Excel  20.30
 Council of Europe pilot projects 1973-1977  PDF  Excel  20.31
 Threshold level for French 1975-1976  PDF  Excel  20.32
 Council of Europe - Unit/credit scheme General II      
 Council of Europe - CATALAN project
 (T420 Council of Europe project 12. 1982/1983/1984.
 To select a multi- media course design for Catalan)
 Syllabus design and examination      
 Examination syllabuses 1      
 “Council of Europe future development”      
 Papers on Testing      
 1970-1979: Papers Re. Unit/Credit Scheme
 for Adult Language Learning
 1980-1989: Papers      
 1990-2001: Papers      
 Papers re: Proposed Compendium for Teacher Training      
 Conférence de Strasbourg sur la démocratie parlementaire
 (28-30 septembre 1987)
 Papers on media      
 Papers on teacher training      
 Summaries of Teacher Training Workshop Questionnaires
 Swedish papers on migrants 1974-1979
 Council of Europe Publications on Adult and Permanent Education  1973-1980
 Papers from Standing Conference of European Ministers of Education,  (Dublin, May 1983)      
 Council for Cultural Cooperation documents 1976-1985      
 Council of Europe documents 1988-1989      
 Council of Europe Steering Group on Educational Technology  publications 1972-1976
 AILA 90 Greece      

Online catalogue

The Council of Europe online catalogue provides bibliographical records on the different library collections, including those of the ECML.

Access the ECML online catalogue

Choose the "John Trim Collection (ECML)" in the library field to search for monographs

John Trim Classification

Search strategies, classification system, descriptors and keywords used for the John Trim Collection (bilingual English/ French)

General information about the online catalogue

John Trim: selected Council of Europe recommendations, publications, articles, speeches

Brumfit, Christopher, The work of the Council of Europe and second language teaching, London : Macmillan : Modern English Publications and The British Council, Review of ELT, vv. 4, no. 2, 1995.

Council of Europe, Recommendation R (82)18 of the Committee of Ministers to member states based on the results of the CDCC Project N° 4 ("Modern Languages 1971-1981") (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 24 September 1982 at the 350th meeting of the Ministers' Deputies).

Council of Europe, Recommendation R (98) 6 of the Committee of Ministers to member states based on the results of the CDCC Project "Language Learning for European Citizenship" (1989-1996) (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 17 March 1998 at the 623rd meeting of the Ministers' Deputies).

Council of Europe, Questions to John Trim on the occasion of the tenth anniversary celebration of the European Centre for Modern Languages in Graz, 2005.

Council of EuropeInterview mit John Trim anlässlich des 10-jährigen Bestehens des Europäischen Fremdsprachenzentrums des Europarates in Graz, 2005.

Council of Europe, Education Bulletin No. 18, 2005.
English - French

Council of Europe, Recommendation CM/Rec(2008)7E of the Committee of Ministers to member states on the use of the Council of Europe’s Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and the promotion of plurilingualism (adopted by the Committee of Ministers on 2 July 2008 at the 1031st meeting of the Ministers’ Deputies), 2008.

de Boer-Buquicchio, Maud, Speech by Ms Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Deputy Secretary General of the Council of Europe within the framework of the 10th Anniversary of the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe, Graz, 16 September 2005.

de Boer-Buquicchio, MaudAllocution de Mme Maud de Boer-Buquicchio, Secrétaire Générale Adjointe du Conseil de l'Europe, à l'occasion du 10e anniversaire du Centre européen pour les langues vivantes du Conseil de l'Europe, Graz, 16 septembre 2005.

European Centre for Modern Languages / Council of Europe1995-2005 - Celebrating the ECML’s 10th anniversary, 2005.

Green, Anthony with contributions from John L.M. Trim and Roger Hawkey, Language functions revisited: Theoretical and empirical bases for language construct definition across the ability range, Cambridge University Press, England, 2012.

Inkiläinen, Anni, "An overview of the John Trim Collection", article published on the ECML website on 11 March 2011.

Sheils, Joseph, Former Head of the Department of Language Education and Policy of the Council of Europe, Speech during the 10th Anniversary Ceremony of the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe, 16 September 2005, Graz.

Trim, John, "The role of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages in teacher training", Lecture delivered during the Ceremony of the 10th Anniversary of the European Centre for Modern Languages of the Council of Europe, Graz, 16 September 2005.

Trim, John, The work of the Council of Europe in the field of modern languages 1957-2001, on the occation of the European Day of Languages 2001, 2001.

Trim, JohnModern languages in the Council of Europe 1954-1997: International co-operation in support of lifelong language learning for effective communication, mutual cultural enrichment and democratic citizenship in Europe, Strasbourg: Council of Europe, January 2007.

Trim, John, Using the CEFR: Principles of good practice, University of Cambridge, October 2011. [e-book]

Trim, John, “The Common European Framework of Reference: Learning, Teaching, Assessment”, in Byram Michael and Parmenter Lynne (eds), The Common European Framework of Reference – The Globalisation of Language Education Policy, Bristol: Multilingual Matters, Languages for Intercultural Communication and Education series, 2012, pp. 13-34.

Trim, John, Speech on the CEFR during the ACFTL-CEFR Symposium 2012
The symposium took place on 21-23 June 2012 at the European Centre for Modern Languages (ECML) in Graz, Austria. The goal for this event was to look at the implications of cross-walks between the ACTFL Guidelines and the CEFR for learning/teaching, for teacher training and for assessment/certification. At this occasion, John Trim made a speech on the CEFR pointing to its pedagogical and political foundations by highlighting  the main educational influences under which the CEFR was written (tracing them back from the classical grammar to the communicative approach applied today); contrasts in the classical and modern paradigms: aims, objectives, attitudes to language, type of language to learn, preferred medium, model presented, text-types, criteria for expression and for comprehension, relation of knowledge to action, criteria for success, skill development, work style, relation among learners, approach to learning, role of teacher, teaching style, means employed, language of instruction and class management, approach to grammar and to meaning, concept of culture, social values, attitudes to change, strengths and critics of both paradigms; the political background and the consequences of the CEFR.

Trim, John, "The Common European Framework of Reference. Council of Europe Modern Languages Project", in Routledge encyclopaedia of language teaching and learning, Routledge, 2nd edition, 2013. 

More Council of Europe publications on the CEFR: dedicated website

About John Trim

John Trim was an expert in the field of phonetics, linguistics, language didactics and policy. He was director of the Council of Europe’s Modern Languages Projects from 1971 to 1997, overseeing developments ranging from the Threshold Level to the Common European Framework of Reference. 

After his graduation in German, John Trim occupied several positions in the field of university education and research. He notably taught phonetics and set up the Department of Linguistics at Cambridge University, lectured and conducted seminars in some 40 countries, and acted as director of CILT (Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research) in the United Kingdom.

Concerning his involvement in professional associations, Mr. Trim was, among others, president of BAAL (British Association for Applied Linguistics), vice-president of AILA (International Association of Applied Linguistics) and is an honorary member of AILA and ALL (Association for Language Learning). He is an Officier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques (France) and holds honorary doctorates from the Universities of Dublin, Prague, Wolverhampton and Oulu. He is the author of numerous published books and articles.


1949: John Trim graduated in German at University College London; lectureship in phonetics.
1958: Appointment at the University of Cambridge.
1962: Fellow of Selwyn College, first Director of the Department of Linguistics in 1965. 
1963-1978: Director of the university’s vacation courses in Linguistics and the English Language. 
1970-1978: Chair of the Executive Committee for international examinations in English as a Foreign Language.
1978-1987: Director of the Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research (CILT) in London.
1969-1997: Involvement in the Modern languages Projects of the Council of Europe, which he directed from 1971 to 1997 with responsibility for the development of the Threshold Level series in 25 languages, 72 international workshops for teacher trainers and the composition, piloting and publication of the Common European Framework for Languages (CEFR), of which he was part-author.