English levels in Europe, and often abroad too, are ranked in a standard framework. Have you ever heard of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)? Don’t worry if you haven’t – it’s not a secret of the British Secret Service. It’s just the system that we linguists use to define how well you know English (or any other language). Yes, it has a long and boring acronym, but don’t be discouraged. It’s actually quite simple. So let’s explore the levels of English language proficiency.
Basic User – English Levels
At level A1, we’re talking about basics. You might be able to say “My name is John,” but you may have difficulty understanding the response if it’s not “Nice to meet you, John.” A1 level users can understand and use everyday expressions and very simple sentences.
Person A: Hi, I’m Sarah. Nice to meet you.
Person B: Hello, Sarah. I’m Alex. Nice to meet you too.
Moving on to A2, you start to understand more than just a restaurant menu and can engage in simple conversations, like talking about the weather or asking for directions. So if you’re at A2 level, you can respond to “How are you?” with more than just “Yes.”
Person A: Have you been to this museum before?
Person B: No, it’s my first time. How about you?
Person A: I’ve been here a few times. It’s really interesting.
Independent User – English Levels
At level B1, you begin to understand the main ideas of speeches or texts related to familiar topics. So you might be able to follow a simple conversation among native speakers, instead of nodding and smiling, hoping they’re only talking about the weather.
Person A: I heard you’re planning a trip to Spain. When are you leaving?
Person B: Yes, I’m leaving next month. I’m excited but a bit nervous about the language.
Person A: Don’t worry, you’ll do great. Just practice a little every day.
Once you reach level B2, you can start discussing more complex topics such as the environment or politics and follow a university lecture. You might even be able to understand an English film without subtitles, which would drive any B1-level user crazy.
Person A: Did you catch the new film last night?
Person B: Yeah, I watched it. The plot was intriguing, but the acting could have been better.
Person A: I agree, it was a bit disappointing in that regard.
Advanced User – English Levels
At level C1, English starts to feel natural. You can easily understand a speech on a familiar topic, even if the speaker is using jargon or sophisticated words. You might even be able to read a literary book in English and comprehend the nuances of the text.
Person A: I read an article on AI advancements yesterday. It’s fascinating how technology is evolving.
Person B: Absolutely, AI has revolutionized many industries. But there are ethical concerns too.
Person A: True, the balance between progress and ethics is a complex issue. It’s a double-edged sword, really.
Finally, at level C2, you can understand practically everything you hear or read in English. At this level, you might even be able to read and comprehend English poetry, which, as we all know, can be quite complex.
Person A: Have you had the chance to delve into that new philosophical treatise? It’s quite an intellectual odyssey.
Person B: Absolutely, it delves deep into epistemological quandaries and metaphysical intricacies. The author’s erudition is astounding.
Person A: Agreed, their cogent arguments and nuanced perspective stimulate profound contemplation. Reading it feels like embarking on an intellectual quest.
Person B: Indeed, an odyssey of the mind that unveils new horizons of thought.
When considering the proficiency attained at C2 levels of language, you might find yourself thinking, “Wow… I couldn’t even articulate myself that fluently in my own native tongue!” And you know what? You’ve hit the nail on the head! This brings us to the timeless debate that sparks discussions (and sometimes a hell of a fight): Is a C2 Level the same as a Native Speaker? And because we’re pretty laid-back, we’ve written an article on the topic! C2 vs. Native Speaker (coming soon)
So there you have it, the CEFR language proficiency levels explained in terms that everyone can understand. These are the groups we divide English levels into. But remember, language is a journey, not a destination. So keep learning and improving, but most importantly, have fun while doing it! We hope this guide has been helpful to you. Don’t forget to check out the other resources on Marcus English Institute to help you improve your English!
Source: Council of Europe