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What are the CEFR language levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2?

A guide to the CEFR levels of proficiency. Find out which type of user you are: Basic User (A), Independent User (B) and Proficient User (C).
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The Common European Framework of Reference for languages (CEFR) is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages. It was designed by the Council of Europe to provide a coherent basis for the elaboration of language courses and the assessment of foreign language proficiency. It is commonly used across Europe and it is increasingly used in other countries.

What are the benefits of using the CEFR?

Some of the benefits of the CEFR are:

It describes language proficiency levels in a simple way that is understood globally.

It provides a clear structure for language teaching and learning that covers all the skills (reading, listening, speaking and writing).

It provides a clear framework for assessing language proficiency that is consistent and reliable.

It provides a way of comparing different language qualifications.

How can I find out my CEFR level?

There are different ways to find out your CEFR level.

One way is to look at the description of each level and find the one that matches your abilities in the language you want to learn.

Another way is to take a well-designed standardized test that is aligned to the CEFR. For example, in English, you can take the English Placement Test 1 at up2dateSKILLS.com, which is free and fully aligned to the CEFR.

Alternatively, you can download one of up2dateskills’ educational resources specifically designed to assess English proficiency levels. They all include the answer key so that you can check your score. Please check the options below.

How long does it take to complete a CEFR level?

The time it takes to complete a CEFR level depends on various factors, such as your motivation, your knowledge of other languages, your learning objectives, and your exposure to the language.

However, if you are a motivated learner and follow a course that includes guided learning, homework and other language learning activities, the following estimates for the full duration of the guided lessons can be given. The amount of hours doesn’t include homework, self-study and additional learning activities.

A1 | 50–100 hours

A2 | 180–200 hours

B1 | 350–400 hours

B2 | 500–600 hours

C1 | 700–800 hours

C2 | 1,000–1,200 hours 

Picture explaining What the CEFR Language Levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 are.

What is the difference between the 6 CEFR levels?

There are six levels, A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2, which can be regrouped into three broad levels: Basic User (A), Independent User (B) and Proficient User (C).

The “A” Levels | Basic User

A1

Beginner

Breakthrough

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

Elementary

Waystage

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). Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters. Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

The “B” Levels | Independent User

B1

Intermediate

Threshold

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 whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

B2

Upper Intermediate

Vantage

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 and disadvantages of various options.

The “C” Levels | Proficient User

C1

Advanced

Effective Operational Proficiency

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

C2

Proficiency

Mastery

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 more complex situations.

Your turn

How many foreign languages do you speak?

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Picture explaining What the CEFR Language Levels A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 are.

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