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There are many different levels of learning a language. It’s like stepping up a ladder. For example:
So, what exactly are the different levels of language learning? Well, many teachers and experts around the world use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The CEFR has six levels from beginner (A1) to very advanced (C2).
The CEFR isn’t just used in Europe. It’s used all around the world. It is a practical tool that can be used to organise study content in classes, curriculum, learning resources and exams. By using the CEFR, we can be confident that material is suitable – not too easy and not too difficult.
All our exams and online learning activities are available at the different levels of the CEFR. The level-based approach brings several benefits:
The CEFR is a very practical way to show how learners progress through the levels. It describes the things that learners Can Do at each level. Here are some examples.
This example is about having a social conversation
This example is about buying items in a shop
This example is about reading postcards/letters
This example is about writing letters/messages
Can take part in basic, factual conversations. For example, ‘Where does your rabbit live?’ ‘It lives in my garden.’
Can go to a shop where goods are on display and ask for what they want. For example, ‘Can I have this drink, please?’
Can understand simple information from a penfriend. For example, ‘My name is Anita. I’m 16 and I go to school in Brazil.’
Can write a simple message saying where they have gone and what time they will be back. For example, ‘Gone to school. Back at 5 p.m.’
Can take part in ‘small talk’ and express simple opinions. For example, ‘This looks like a good party.’ ‘Yes, and everyone’s wearing funny clothes.’
Can ask for what they want and exchange basic information with other customers. For example, who was first in the queue.
Can understand letters with simple descriptions of people, events, ideas and opinions. For example, ‘I am sad because it is raining.’
Can write a short letter with basic factual information. For example, their name, age, where they live, etc.
Can take part in a casual conversation for a reasonable period of time. For example, ‘How was your camping holiday this year? Did you get washed away in all that rain?’ ‘When we got there the campsite was closed because of flooding. But we were really lucky – the holiday company offered us a cottage instead for the same price.’
Can go to a counter service shop (where goods are not on display) and ask for most of what they want.
Can understand letters with a range of personal opinions.
Can write simple letters stating facts and events.
Can take part in conversations on a range of topics. For example, conversations about events currently in the news.
Can bargain for what they want and ask effectively for a refund or exchange an item.
Can understand what is said in personal letters, even where colloquial (informal) language is used.
Can write letters expressing opinions and giving reasons.
Can take part in conversations on a range of abstract topics with a good amount of fluency and a variety of expressions.
Can deal with complex and sensitive transactions.
Can read quickly enough to cope with an academic course.
Can write letters on any subject with good expression and accuracy.
Ask your child to complete our quick, free online test for young learners or our online test for school-aged learners.
You’ll see your child’s CEFR level at the end of the test. You can use this information to find practice activities and exams at the right level:
Our research project, English Profile, finds the English vocabulary and grammar that matches each CEFR level. We then produce free vocabulary lists, so that your child can learn the most useful English words.
Download our free Pre A1 Starters, A1 Movers and A2 Flyers Word List Picture Books.
Download our free vocabulary lists for A2 Key for Schools and B1 Preliminary for Schools.