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Proficiency Levels

The Common European Framework (CEF) divides learners into three broad divisions that can be divided into six levels; for each level, it describes what a learner is supposed to be able to do in reading, listening, speaking and writing.

These levels are:

  • A Basic user
  • A1 Breakthrough or beginner
  • A2 Way stage or elementary
  • B Independent user
  • B1 Threshold or intermediate
  • B2 Vantage or upper intermediate
  • C Proficient user
  • C1 Effective operational proficiency or advanced
  • C2 Mastery or proficiency

A1 - Breakthrough orBeginner

Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.
Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and Is prepared to help.

A2 - Waystage or Elementary

Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).

B1 - Threshold or Intermediate

Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2 - Vantage or Upper Intermediate

Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.
Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages of various options.

C1 - Effective Operational Proficiency or Advanced

Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer clauses, and recognise implicit meaning.
Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

C2 - Mastery or Proficiency

Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

These descriptors can apply to any of the languages spoken in Europe, and there are translations in many languages.

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