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CEFR levels: 4 key points every language learner must know

CEFRL levels A1/A2/B1/B2/C1/C2 are used to measure learners' abilities in over 40 languages!

When studying any language, our main goal is to be able to get that dream job, that incredible scholarship, or read the original version of our favorite book. The goals can be different but there is one thing that never changes when it comes to studying Spanish, French, or any other language. And that is the level we want to acquire.

Let's agree, writing simply "beginner/intermediate/advanced " levels in your resumé may be too vague to measure your real abilities in a language, right?! That's why a few years back the European Council created a six.-level scale guideline to evaluate them in detail. This guideline is called the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, or CEFR and classifies someone's language skills as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, or C2.

Think about this:

Scenario 1: You saw an amazing job offer requiring an English/ French/any Language at a B2 or C1 level.

Scenario 2: You want to study abroad and get a scholarship in Madrid and you have to prove you have a minimum B2 level in Spanish in order to apply.

Scenario 3: You're studying a new language and often read A1/A1/B1/B2/C1/C2 levels here and there.

Do you find yourself in one of these scenarios and wonder what exactly all these six levels mean and why they seem to be present everywhere?

As a multilingual teacher and learner, all the CEFR levels are an important part of my professional and personal life. That's why I will be sharing in this article the essential points about CEFR with you. Let's dive in:

What is CEFR in a language

CEFR Levels Description

CEFR - Exams and certifications

A few pieces of advice from a multilingual teacher to progress on the CEFR


What is CEFR in a language?

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment (CEFR) is the ultimate guideline to evaluate the proficiency level in a foreign language. It evaluates a learner's abilities in writing, reading, speaking, and listening in a language.

It was created in the 90s by the European Council to create one unified standard of evaluation for the European Languages but as its importance and uses grew, nowadays it helps you to work out your abilities in over 40 languages around the world, for instance even in Mandarin Chinese!

Nowadays CEFR levels are used by countries and languages outside Europe as well

While many language learners will talk about their linguistic abilities at an A1/A2/B1/B2/C1/C2 level, the CEFR certification is mainly required in the professional and academic spheres, where it is a key point.

That's right, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages has the main aim to establish one method to learn, teach and assess not only but especially a European language.

Now let's take a look at what CEFR levels mean and what you're able to do at each one of them:

CEFR levels description

Here are the skills you must be able to show in each of the six CEFR levels in a language.

Bear in mind that A levels are considered beginner, B means elementary, and C is advanced.




  • If you are at the A1 level of a language, you're able to understand and use simple everyday expressions as well as basic sentences.

  • You know how to introduce yourself and answer personal questions such as "Where do you come from?", "Where do you live?", etc.).


  • A2 speakers can understand vocabulary in their fields. They can buy products, talk about their jobs and their cities.

  • At an A2 level, you can also ask for basic information.

  • You know how to explain, in a basic way, some points about your work field, the place where you live, and talk about immediate needs in the target language.


  • Speaking a language at a B1 level means understanding the main points of everyday subjects such as work, school, or leisure.

  • B1 learners can also deal with basic situations when traveling to countries where the target language is spoken.

  • You're able to write simple texts about your study or work field and also about your personal lives and interests.

  • Moreover, you are ready to express your opinion in a conversation, to a limited extent.


  • As a B2 speaker in your target language, you may be able to understand the main ideas of a complex text, including a few technical terms of your work field.

  • Here you can speak and understand native speakers with a certain ease.

  • You write texts clearly and defend your arguments pointing out positive and negative aspects of a given subject.


  • Speaking a foreign language at a C1 level, you understand long and complex texts about a number of subjects. You can read it critically, identifying its implicit meaning and ideas.

  • You're fluent, my friend! Your communication is natural and you don't need to make too much effort to remember words and expressions.

  • You use the language spontaneously in social situations.

  • I'm proud! Your write texts on an academic level.


  • Ok, here you are really fluent! You understand 100% of everything you read or hear.

  • You can explain any information with your own words in writing or spoken language very directly.

  • You're comfortable expressing yourself in the second (or third or fourth) language you chose!

  • You're able to catch the subtle nuances of meaning when reading or hearing. Well done!

CEFR - Exams and certifications

There are many ways to evaluate your CEFR level for professional or academic purposes. Below there is a list of the most popular language exams for English, French, German and Spanish.


IELTS is the main test from the US. If you learn British variety of English you may want to take a look at the Cambridge English website.,


TCF - Test de Connaissance du Français (TCF) and DELF are both held by the Pedagogy International Center - Centre International d’études Pédagogiques (CIEP) of the Ministery of Education in France.


Both Goethe Institut and ÖSD (Österreichisches Sprachdiplom Deutsch have exams in German and, like the others on the list, evaluate the learners in A1-C2 levels according to the CEFR scale.


For Spanish learners interested in taking a CEFR certification, DELE Diplomas de Español Como Lengua Extranjera and SIELE Servicio Internacional de Evaluación de la Lengua Española are the two most recognised ones.

A few pieces of advice from a multilingual teacher to progress on the CEFRL

Now you are more familiar with what you can do at every CEFR level.

For the past ten years, I've been living on different continents to study, work or teach a foreign language. In other words, CEFR levels have been present in my life for ten years now.

That's how I've decided to make a list of the most effective ways to progress in the A1-C2 scale. These are three main points I consider to be the most effective:

  • Frequency

  • Free online tools

  • Language tutoring


Do not rely only on motivation to learn a language. More effective than that is frequency and discipline to stick to the language goals you set. Making your learning a habit is crucial to progressing at a good pace on the CEFR levels and getting to C2 faster.

The most important thing when learning a language is more about how often you study it than how much you study it. Instead of studying for four hours on weekends, try to add 30 minutes every day to your planning.

A few language study schedule ideas:

  • Study your target language for 30 minutes early in the morning and get 15 minutes before going to bed to review the vocabulary/grammar points/pronunciation you learned in the morning.

  • One hour every day - especially if you want to learn a language faster

  • Twice a week an hour + 20 minutes reading and review on the other days.

It's proved: If you review what you learned a few hours later you will not forget!
Important: Finding a time to study should be completely suitable for your own routine. No matter when it will be, it should become a habit.

Online free tools to learn a language

For all the exams mentioned above, you can find grammar exercises and practice passing CEFR tests from previous years.

If you want to learn French focused on CEFR levels, I recommend this website. It is from TV5 Monde and you find short videos and questions about everyday life in France. You can filter the best content for you by A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2 CEFR levels. By the way, this is one of the online resources I use with my students learning French.

TV5 Monde website for French interactive lessons focused on all CEFR levels

The same model of website but for the German language is the one and only Deutsche Welle, or German Wave in German.

For English, a reliable option is BBC Learning English for those who are learning British English.

If you are a Spanish learner, you can check this post entirely dedicated to a complete list of free online tools to learn this beautiful language. You can also read it in French.

Do you want to have a quick idea about your rather your current language level is A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2? Go ahead and test your CEFR level in your target language for free here.

Would you like to talk more about languages and get tips every day? Reach me on Instagram! I'll be happy to chat with you.

Online language tutoring/coach

I'm convinced that there is one single way to learn a language better and faster and this is having the much contact as possible with the language, both "receiving" it by listening and reading (input) or using what you've learned by speaking in writing (output). This is something that can be done in different ways but having a person with who you will have lots of input and output is the best.

Indeed, having a regular language expert holding your back when you set language goals means having a team partner with the knowledge, certification, and passion to help you to reach them.

At the same time, it works as a motivation factor, pushing you on those days you're not feeling like it and assuring the first point I've mentioned below, the FREQUENCY.

Plus, a good language tutor will also have knowledge about all the language certifications you can take to obtain the CEFR level and I could keep adding advantages to the list but the thing is: If you've got the chance, I definitely recommend you to hire a person to help you reach your language goals.


Now you're more familiar with CEFR or CEFRL (for languages).

  • You know that the A1 and A2 levels are beginner's, B1 and B2 are elementary and C1 and C2 are advanced levels;

  • You know exactly what skills you have in each of them;

  • You know that CEFR levels are essential for professional and academic purposes;

  • You can use CEFR levels to work out your skills in around 40 languages(!);

  • You've got a couple of great tips to progress throughout the CEFR.

I hope you will get to the C2 level soon!

Share this content with other language learners and tell me in the comments, what language (s) are you learning and at what level?

#language #CEFR #CEFRL #languagelearning #studyabroad #workabroad #carreer #spanish #french #portuguese #english #german

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