Updated: Aug 23
How does your teacher know when you are ready to move to the next level? We use the CEFR standards to determine what level you are in the 4 skills of reading, writing,listening and speaking
What are the Different CEFR Levels?
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages or CEFR or CEFRL, is an international standard for working out your ability within a language. It was established by the Council of Europe and aims to validate language ability.
The six levels within the CEFR are :
A1, A2, B1, B2, C1,C2.
The levels are often used casually by language learners to explain their ability at speaking, reading, writing and understanding a language. There are also exams and certificates available to those who want to make their level official.
Let’s first take a look at what the different levels are and what’s possible for you at each level.
The “A” Levels: Basic User
A1 | Beginner
At the A1 CEFR level, a language learner can:
Understand and use very basic expressions to satisfy concrete needs.
Introduce themselves and ask others questions about personal details.
Interact simply as long as the other person speaks slowly and clearly.
A2 | Elementary
At the A2 CEFR level, a language learner can:
Understand frequently used expressions in most intermediate areas such as shopping, family, employment, etc.
Complete tasks that are routine and involve a direct exchange of information.
Describe matters of immediate need in simple terms.
The “B” Levels: Independent User
B1 | Intermediate
At the B1 CEFR level, a language learner can:
Understand points regarding family, work, school or leisure-related topics.
Deal with most travel situations in areas where the language is spoken.
Create simple texts on topics of personal interest.
Describe experiences, events, dreams, and ambitions, as well as opinions or plans in brief.
B2 | Upper Intermediate
At the B2 CEFR level, a language learner can:
Understand the main ideas of a complex text such as a technical piece related to their field.
Spontaneously interact without too much strain for either the learner or the native speaker.
Produce a detailed text on a wide range of subjects.
The “C” Levels: Proficient User
C1 | Advanced
At the C1 CEFR level, a language learner can:
Understand a wide range of longer and more demanding texts or conversations.
Express ideas without too much searching.
Effectively use the language for social, academic or professional situations.
Create well-structured and detailed texts on complex topics.
C2 | Proficiency
At the C2 CEFR level, a language learner can:
Understand almost everything read or heard with ease.
Summarize information from a variety of sources into a coherent presentation.
Express themselves using precise meaning in complex scenarios.
When do the Different CEFR Levels Matter?
The CEFR is often used by employers and in academic settings.
You may need a CEFR certificate for:
University course requirements
A CEFR certificate is very handy for your CV or résumé, and they often don’t expire.
That said, many language learners use CEFR levels for self-assessment so that they can more clearly define what they need to work on, and work out what they would like to achieve in their target language.
Aiming for higher CEFR levels are also a great way to make the transition from an intermediate learner to an advanced learner, and Fluent in 3 Months founder Benny Lewis has used exams in the past to force himself to improve and refine his language skills.
If you’re looking for an extra push or for a way to break through a plateau, a language exam could be an effective way to do it. Motivation in language learning always matters.
Outside of the professional or academic realm, CEFR levels are not as important. They’re really only necessary if you want to define where you’re at with your target language. In a more casual language-learning environment, or when you’re just learning languages because you enjoy them, then CEFR levels are just another tool to help with your language learning.
Sitting an exam requires a lot of study.
Sitting an exam requires a lot of study. If your goal is speaking a language, that time you spend reading, listening and writing to meet the exam requirements will be time you could have used to improve your speaking skills.
So, if your language-learning goals do not align with the CEFR scale, and you don’t need a professional qualification, then you can safely ignore it.
How do You Work Out Your CEFR Level?
There are a few ways you can work out your CEFR level. You can speak to your Hona AlQuds instructor and opt for an assessment
A full CEFR exam typically measures skills in listening, reading abilities, speaking, writing, translating and interpreting. That’s why some learners segment their abilities, for example stating that their listening in a language is at a B2 level but their speaking is only at a B1 level. Others just average out their abilities and say that they’re at a B1 level overall.
CEFR Assessments and Tests Available
Some of your options for official examinations (or for courses with certification) include:
Alliance Française for French.
Goethe Institut for German.
Teastas Eorpach na Gaeilge for Irish.
Instituto de Cervantes for Spanish.
CELI for Italian.
European Consortium for the Certificate of Attainment in Modern Languages for Bulgarian, Croatian, Czech, English, French, German, Hebrew, Hungarian, Italian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Slovak, and Spanish.
TELC for English, German, Turkish, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, and Arabic.
Πιστοποίηση Ελληνομάθειας for Modern Greek.
Language Testing International for multiple languages.
Lingoda for Spanish, French, German, and English.
ALTE for many other languages.
If you notice there is not any one test for Arabic. and this is why
Arabic Language Testing: Dealing with Diglossia and Other Issues
Arabic has proven to be a difficult language to test. In Western countries, the intricacies of the Arabic language are not common knowledge. The idea of a diglossia, in particular, has little context in English and other Germanic languages and Romance languages. What is meant by diglossia is the co-existence of two separate versions of a language, often representing a hierarchical delineation. Typical daily life in Arabic-speaking countries is conducted in one of many colloquial Arabic dialects. Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) is the language of written discourse, university courses, and academic and scientific texts and conferences. Interestingly enough, it is also the language in which a majority of TV and radio news is delivered. It follows that a citizen of an Arabic-speaking country who does not have a formal education would not be able to understand the TV news or read a newspaper. Some villages may only have a handful of people with enough knowledge of MSA to impart the news of the world to his or her neighbors. Ideally, students of Arabic would begin learning both Modern Standard Arabic and one of the most common spoken dialects, such as Egyptian Arabic, at the same time. Some university programs have caught on to this, but others lag behind, teaching only the formal, written Arabic and ignoring the colloquial forms until the student has completed several semesters of an Arabic program.
Here at Hona AlQuds, we have been working with studentswho require Arabic proficiency testing. The key to effectively working with the client, and with the language, is to make sure the client knows what they are up against with the Arabic language. Bringing the client to an awareness of the diglossia, the various dialects, and the learning curve for native English speakers is important, it ensures an understanding that being a beginner in Arabic is not the same thing as being a beginner in French, Spanish, or German.