CEFR language levels explained

We use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) to indicate the level of language understanding you should already have in order to start and get the most out of one of our courses. The CEFR system has 3 tiers: basic, independent and proficient.

Need help?

If you are unsure about which course level would be right for you, just ask us for advice.

Most of our schools can teach you to whatever language level you want to attain – in English, French, German, Italian or Spanish – as long as you are able to study on the right courses for long enough. 

For the language you want to study, decide which level below you are at right now, which level you would like to get to, and view the relevant courses we offer.

Basic language user: A0, A1, A2

CEFR A0

You are at Absolute beginner level if you have…

  • No knowledge of the language to be studied at all

View courses suitable for A0 entry level to study…

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CEFR A1

You are at ‘Breakthrough’ Beginner level if you can…

  • Understand and use familiar expressions and very basic phrases aimed at meeting your everyday needs
  • Introduce yourself to others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, people you know and things you have
  • Interact in a simple way if the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help

View courses suitable for A1 entry level to study…

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Other standards approximately equivalent to CEFR A1 *

English
  • TOEFL: 8-12 (speaking)
  • TOEIC: 60-105 (listening); 60-110 (reading)
  • City and Guilds: Preliminary
  • Cambridge Exam: KET 45-59
  • British general qualifications: Foundation Tier GCSE
French
  • CIEP / Alliance Français: TCF A1 / DELF A1
German
  • Goethe Institut: Start Deutsch 1
Italian
  • CELI: Impatto
  • CILS: A1
  • PLIDA: A1
Spanish
  • DELE: A1

CEFR A2

You are at ‘Waystage’ Elementary level if you can…

  • Understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (for example, very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment)
  • Communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters
  • Describe in simple terms aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need

View courses suitable for A2 entry level to study…

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Other standards approximately equivalent to CEFR A2 *

English
  • TOEFL: 13-18 (speaking), 11-16 (writing)
  • TOEIC: 110-270 (listening), 115-270 (reading)
  • City and Guilds: Access
  • Cambridge Exam: PET (45 to 59) / KET Pass with Merit, Pass
  • British general qualifications: Higher Tier GCSE
French
  • CIEP / Alliance Français: TCF A2 / DELF A2 / CEFP 1
German
  • Goethe Institut: Start Deutsch 2
Italian
  • CELI: 1
  • CILS: A2
  • PLIDA: A2
Spanish
  • DELE: A2

Independent language user: B1, B2

CEFR B1

You are at ‘Threshold’ Intermediate level if you have…

  • Understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc
  • Deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling in an area where the language is spoken
  • Produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest
  • Describe experiences, events, dreams, hopes and ambitions, and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans

View courses suitable for B1 entry level to study…

When you’ve found the course you want save money on your flights

Other standards approximately equivalent to CEFR B1 *

English
  • IELTS: 4-5 (5 is borderline between B1 and B2)
  • TOEFL: 57 to 86
  • TOEIC: 275 - 395 (listening), 275 - 380 (reading)
  • City and Guilds: Achiever
  • Cambridge Exam: FCE (45 to 59) / PET Pass with Merit, Pass / KET Pass with Distinction
  • British general qualifications: GCE AS level / lower grade A-level
French
  • CIEP / Alliance Français: TCF B1 / DELF B1 / CEFP 2
German
  • Goethe Institut: Zertifikat Deutsch
Italian
  • CELI: 2
  • CILS: Uno
  • PLIDA: B1
Spanish
  • DELE: B1 (formerly ‘Inicial’)

CEFR B2

You are at ‘Vantage’ Upper intermediate level if you can…

  • Understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation
  • Interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party
  • 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

Other standards approximately equivalent to CEFR B2 *

English
  • IELTS: 5-6.5 (5 is borderline between B1 and B2)
  • TOEFL: 87 to 109
  • TOEIC: 400-485 (listening), 385-450 (reading)
  • City and Guilds: Communicator
  • Cambridge Exam: CAE (45 to 59) / FCE grade B or C / PET Pass with Distinction
  • British general qualifications: GCE A-Level (known as A2)
French
  • CIEP / Alliance Français: TCF B2 / DELF B2 / Diplôme de Langue
German
  • Goethe Institut: Goethe-Zertifikat B2, ZDfB
  • TestDaf: TDN 3 to TDN 4
Italian
  • CELI: 3
  • CILS: Due
  • PLIDA: B2
Spanish
  • DELE: B2 (formerly ‘Intermedio’)

Proficient language user: C1, C2

CEFR C1

You are at ‘Effective operational proficiency’ Advanced level if you have…

  • Understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning
  • Express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions
  • Use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes
  • Produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices

View courses suitable for C1 entry level to study…

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Other standards approximately equivalent to CEFR C1 *

English
  • IELTS: 7-8 (8 is borderline between C1 and C2)
  • TOEFL: 110 to 120
  • TOEIC: 490-495 (listening), 455-495 (reading)
  • City and Guilds: Expert
  • Cambridge Exam: CPE (45 to 59) / CAE grade B or C / FCE grade A
French
  • CIEP / Alliance Français: TCF C1 / DALF C1 / DSLCF
German
  • Goethe Institut: Goethe-Zertifikat C1 – Zentrale Mittelstufenprüfung (neu)
Italian
  • CELI: 4
  • CILS: Tre
  • PLIDA: C1
Spanish
  • DELE: C1

CEFR C2

You are at ‘Mastery’ Proficiency level if you can…

  • Understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
  • Summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation
  • Express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning, even in the most complex situations

Other standards approximately equivalent to CEFR C2 *

English
  • IELTS: 8-9 (8 is borderline between C1 and C2)
  • TOEFL: 29-30 (reading)
  • City and Guilds: Mastery
  • Cambridge Exam: CPE grade A, B or C / CAE grade A
French
  • CIEP / Alliance Français: TCF C2 / DALF C2 / DHEF
German
  • Goethe Institut: Zentrale Oberstufenprüfung, Kleines Deutsches Sprachdiplom
Italian
  • CELI: 5
  • CILS: Quattro / DIT C2
  • PLIDA: C2
Spanish
  • DELE: C2 (formerly ‘Superior’)

Source of language learning standards approximately equivalent to CEFR: Wikipedia.

Accredited by these organisations : ICEF, English UK

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