English Schools | Language School & Courses Reviews | Language Study from Immersion Language Schools



Sign up and get the latest deals, reviews & articles

  1. What is your language level

    What's Your Level?


    So you’ve decided you want to study a language abroad, great! Now before you head off and book your foreign language course you’re going to need to know what level you should be studying. If you get the level wrong you could find the study abroad program is too easy and you’re not learning anything; but too high, and you could struggle to keep up. Here’s more information on the levels available for foreign language programs.

    Why knowing your language study level is important ?

    Making sure you’re studying at the right level is really very important. If you end up on a foreign language course which is at a lower level to your ability it’s a waste of both time and money. You won’t be learning anything new and hence it won’t be a worthwhile experience.

    On the other hand, if you choose a level which is far higher than your ability it could also be a waste of time and money. If you’re finding it difficult to keep up in class and can’t complete any of the work, you’re going to feel very demoralised and maybe even you’ll give up before the course is over. Study abroad should be fun and rewarding, so make sure you get the right level!

    Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR)

    If you’re studying in Europe you can find out what level you should be studying by looking at the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR). The CEFR was set up so that there was a common reference across the whole of Europe, making it easier for students, teachers and employers to recognise ability levels.

    The CEFR Levels

    CEFR is divided into three main tiers – A, B and C. A is Basic User. B is Independent User. C is Proficient User.

    These tiers are further divided into two levels each:

    A1 Breakthrough

    A2 Waystage

    B1 Threshold

    B2 Vantage

    C1 Effective Operational Proficiency

    C2 Mastery.

    Each of these levels has a description which describes the level of proficiency that a language travel student should be at, including ability to read, listen, speak and write. You should find the description which best fits your level and make a note of it.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.


    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, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.


    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.

    American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages

    In the United States there are several benchmarks used to determine level of language student. These include the Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale, and the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).

    The ACTFL is broken down into four levels – Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Superior, and all except Superior are further broken down into low, middle and high.

    The ILR scale goes from Level 1 to Level 5, as follows: Elementary Proficiency, Limited Working Proficiency, Professional Working Proficiency, Full Professional Proficiency, Native or Bilingual Proficiency.

    Canadian Language Benchmarks

    Canada also has its own levels when it comes to studying foreign languages. There are 12 benchmarks which are divided into three general stages: Stage I Basic Proficiency, Stage II Intermediate Proficiency, Stage III Advanced Proficiency.