Some of you ask me about the CEFR levels: what are they? Do they matter? 

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, often referred to as 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 and C2. The levels are often used by language learners to explain their ability at speaking, reading, writing and understanding a language. But 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 you can do 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. 

The CEFR levels matter if you are planning to get a certificate for school or university admissions, for getting a job or immigrating to a different country. In a more casual language-learning environment, or when you’re just learning languages because you enjoy them, I feel they are not that important. 

Are you curious about your English Language level? Below are some links to instant-result tests that can approximately indicate your language level, but remember that the majority of these tests mainly check your grammar and vocabulary, but leave out such important skills as listening, speaking and writing. So, use them wisely! (This test has a listening part as well) 

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