Language levels according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR for short) provides various scales and descriptors to describe language competences. The CEFR has six language levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2.
These levels serve as the basis for a comparative description of the language competences of learners, the content of language courses and the requirements and results of language tests, for example.
The CEFR have been translated into over 40 languages and are used throughout Europe and on other continents as well. The CEFR Companion Volume published in 2020 updates and extends the original CEFR.
At A1 level you can understand and make yourself understood on a very basic level.
Can recognise everyday, familiar words/signs, provided they are delivered clearly and slowly in a clearly defined, familiar everyday context.
Can recognise familiar names, words/signs and very basic phrases on simple notices in the most common everyday situations.
Can compose a short, simple postcard. Can fill in numbers and dates, own name, nationality, address, age, date of birth or arrival in the country, etc., e.g. on a hotel registration form.
Can understand everyday expressions aimed at the satisfaction of simple needs of a concrete type, delivered directly to them in clear, slow and repeated language by a sympathetic interlocutor.
Can describe themselves, what they do and where they live. Can describe other people, places and possessions in simple terms.
At A2 level you can master daily situations as a matter of routine.
Can understand phrases and expressions related to areas of most immediate priority (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment), provided people articulate clearly and slowly.
Can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and announcements.
Can read very short, simple texts.
Can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus, reference lists and timetables.
Can write short, simple notes and messages.
Can compose very simple personal letters expressing thanks and apology.
Can handle very short social exchanges but is rarely able to understand enough to keep conversation going of their own accord, though they can be made to understand if the interlocutor will take the trouble.
Can describe their family, living conditions, educational background, present or most recent job.
At B1 level you are able to understand the main points of specialist texts and give a greatly simplified overview of a very familiar specialist topic. You also have the linguistic and intercultural skills to successfully deal with your daily routine, life on campus and an internship or work placement,
Can understand the main points made in clear standard language or a familiar variety on familiar matters regularly encountered at work, school, leisure, etc., including short narratives.
Can understand the main points of news bulletins and simpler recorded material about familiar subjects delivered relatively slowly and clearly.
Can understand most factual information that they are likely to come across on familiar subjects of interest, provided they have sufficient time for rereading.
Can understand the important information in simple, clearly drafted adverts in newspapers or magazines, provided there are not too many abbreviations.
Can compose personal letters and notes asking for or conveying simple information of immediate relevance, getting across the point they feel to be important.
Can compose personal letters describing experiences, feelings and events in some detail.
Can exploit a wide range of simple language to deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling.
Can enter unprepared into conversation on familiar topics, and express personal opinions and exchange information on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events)..
Can describe dreams, hopes and ambitions.
Can relate the plot of a book or film and describe their reactions.
Can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions, plans and actions.
At B2 level you have the receptive skills to successfully study abroad. You still require frequent help with oral communication and written production.
Can follow extended discourse and complex lines of argument, provided the topic is reasonably familiar, and the direction of the argument is signposted by explicit markers.
Can understand most documentaries and most other recorded or broadcast material delivered in the standard form of the language and can identify mood, attitude, etc.
Can understand articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems in which particular stances or viewpoints are adopted.
Can read novels with a strong, narrative plot and that use straightforward, unelaborated language, provided they can take their time and use a dictionary.
Can express news and views effectively in writing, and relate to those of others.
Can compose letters conveying degrees of emotion and highlighting the personal significance of events and experiences and commenting on the correspondent’s news and views.
Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction, and sustained relationships with users of the target language, quite possible without imposing strain on either party.
Can highlight the personal significance of events and experiences, and account for and sustain views clearly by providing relevant explanations and arguments.
Can explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.
Can describe the personal significance of events and experiences in detail.
At C1 level you can study almost effortlessly in your target language.
Can follow extended discourse even when it is not clearly structured and when relationships are only implied and not signalled explicitly.
Can understand a wide range of recorded and broadcast material, including some non-standard usage, and identify finer points of detail including implicit attitudes and relationships between people.
Can understand in detail a wide range of lengthy, complex texts likely to be encountered in social, professional or academic life, identifying finer points of detail including attitudes and implied as well as stated opinions.
Can express themselves with clarity and precision in personal correspondence, using language flexibly and effectively, including emotional, allusive and joking usage.
Can express themselves with clarity and precision, relating to the addressee flexibly and effectively.
Can express themselves fluently and spontaneously, almost effortlessly. Has a good command of a broad lexical repertoire allowing gaps to be readily overcome with circumlocutions. There is little obvious searching for expressions or avoidance strategies; only a conceptually difficult subject can hinder a natural, smooth flow of language.
Can give clear, detailed descriptions of complex subjects.
Can give elaborate descriptions and narratives, integrating sub-themes, developing particular points and rounding them off with an appropriate conclusion.
At C2 level you have the linguistic and intercultural competence to deal with almost every situation you encounter. You can also write your final thesis or an academic article.
Can follow specialised lectures and presentations employing colloquialism, regional usage or unfamiliar terminology.
Can understand with ease virtually any kind of language, whether live or broadcast, delivered at fast natural speed.
Can understand virtually all types of texts including abstract, structurally complex, or highly colloquial literary and non-literary writings.
Can express themselves in an appropriate tone and style in virtually any type of formal and informal interaction.
Can compose virtually any type of correspondence necessary in the course of their professional life in an appropriate tone and style.
Has a good command of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms with awareness of connotative levels of meaning. Can convey finer shades of meaning precisely by using, with reasonable accuracy, a wide range of modification devices. Can backtrack and restructure around a difficulty so smoothly that the interlocutor is hardly aware of it.
Can present a complex topic confidently and articulately to an audience unfamiliar with it, structuring and adapting the talk flexibly to meet the audience’s needs.