CEFR Levels in English: Everything you need to know (and why they matter)
Published on June 1, 2020 / Updated on February 27, 2023
If you are a learner of English there is no doubt you will be familiar with the CEFR. One of the most commonly used grading systems both in Europe and abroad, it can help teachers and schools to ensure that the material they are teaching is at just the right level for their students. For you, the learner, they can be a great motivator, filling you with a sense of achievement as you climb the language ladder.
Every journey is marked by the stops you make along the way – let’s take a peek at the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, and get our heads around what they are all about!
The CEFR can greatly assist us in the task of language learning. The levels clearly represent the skills that need to be mastered at each level, allowing students to better focus their time and resources in order to progress in the most time-efficient way. The levels can be daunting to a new reader.
So, let’s take another approach, and find out how the different levels can help you if you’re lonely and looking for love!
Language learners at the A level are considered beginners. A1 is the very beginning – consider it the first rung of the ladder! At A1 it is possible to understand and recognise common and familiar everyday expressions, and use phrases to satisfy the most basic of needs.
You can introduce yourself, but beyond that, communication can get difficult fast! Anyone who has ever played the dating game in another language will know how frustrating, rewarding, and sometimes hilarious the experience can be.
If you’re going on a date at A1, you might be able to introduce yourself and tell your crush you like them, but not much else… good luck! But don’t worry too much… natural charm can go a long way!
Reaching A2 reflects a more confident and advanced use of language. While still at the beginner level, you can comprehend and express yourself in a more detailed way. You can tell your date a little about your opinions and interests, and talk about things happening in the present.
A2 speakers should take their date to a place where there is a lot of action happening, or something to watch– that way you’ll find a lot to talk about, and won’t get stuck as easily.
Safe topics at this level include basic conversation your family, shopping or job status, or talking about familiar aspects of your routine.
B level represents an intermediate user of language – someone who is becoming more independent in their command and deployment of the tongue. At B1, you can definitely start to flirt with confidence, although you might not be at the level yet where you realise if it’s working! This can be an exciting and productive level for learners, as the increased confidence and command of the language gives them a greater freedom to comprehend and engage with native speakers.
You can begin to use humour and tell jokes, it can be exciting and liberating to realise the freedoms that conversation can bring!
B2 is the advanced-intermediate stage of the CEFR levels. At this stage, learners can take part in conversations on a range of topics, and confidently express their own opinions on more complex topics.
A B2 speaker could aim to impress with their specific technical knowledge (don’t go overboard, no one likes a know-it-all…), and explain in greater detail what they like to do. You’ll also be a lot better at figuring out how much chemistry is going on between you and your date.
At this level, there is an increasing confidence in the use of colloquialisms, informal language, and slang too, helping you sound a little more casual and relaxed.
The C level represents advanced users of language – those who have the ability to take part in conversations at a more complex level. At C1, you are really starting to lay the charm on! At this point, you should be good at telling some funny stories, and using humour to lighten the mood!
If you’re more interested in learning rather than love, C1 is also advanced enough to allow for participation in an academic course, and users at this level are capable of writing on a range of subjects with good accuracy and expression.
Speakers at this level have a much higher chance of connecting and finding love! Why? Because they can express their emotions and listen to their date’s wild stories and opinions.
Finally, we come to the highest level of the CEFR, and likely the goal of most students of a foreign language, C2. Users at C2 can understand virtually everything they hear or read. At C2, you really have all the language ingredients you need for successful romance – conversation would flow more smoothly, and with the right words and just a little charm, you can be sure to make a success of your romantic encounters.
C2 speakers can express themselves with fluency and spontaneity. It can be inspiring to talk with learners who have achieved this lofty goal. With regular practice, anything is possible!
As an estimate, it takes over 1000 hours of practice to reach C2 level – talk about commitment.