You may have heard language learners use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) when talking about their language proficiency. 

For example: “I speak English at a B2 level.” 

This guide will show you how to use these CEFR levels to gauge your English language ability across reading, writing, listening, and speaking. 

Students worldwide check their CEFR level by participating in ELL’s online English language proficiency test designed based on CEFR standards.  

Here’s how to assess your English language proficiency using the CEFR standards.

CEFR Levels With Descriptions: 

  • English Basic User (A1, A2)
    • A1 (Beginner)
    • A2 (Elementary English)
  • English Independent User (B1, B2)
    • B1 (Intermediate English)
    • B2 (Upper-Intermediate English)
  • Proficient English User (C1, C2)
    • C1 (Advanced English)
    • C2 (Proficiency English)

CEFR Level A1: English Beginner.

At CEFR A1 Level, an English language learner can:

  • Understand familiar words related to their interests and immediate environments, such as names of regular items and activities like books and running respectively.
  • Write short, simple sentences on familiar subjects, like their address or sending holiday greetings.
  • Read the familiar words in their everyday surroundings, like simple words on postcards or notices. 
  • Communicate in a simple way using everyday words, like asking about the time or saying where they live.

CEFR Level A2: English Elementary

At the CEFR A2 level, an English language learner can:

  • Understand the main point in frequently used expressions without needing the speaker to repeat themselves.
  • Write short, simple phrases on matters they are familiar with or interested in, like a quick text inviting a friend over.
  • Read familiar texts in their everyday surroundings, like timetables and restaurant menus.
  • Communicate by exchanging simple information on familiar topics or make short social exchanges with English natives.

CEFR Level B1: Intermediate English.

At CEFR B1 Level, an English language learner can:

  • Understand the main point in topics of personal, professional interests, or traveling situations. 
  • Write simple texts on familiar topics or of personal interest. For example, write about what they did or describe an experience.
  • Read the simple, predictable text on regularly encountered materials like everyday job-related text.
  • Speak about hobbies, work, and other things related to their everyday life using simple words.

CEFR Level B2: Upper Intermediate English.

At CEFR Level B2, an English language learner can:

  • Begin to understand complex phrases on concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
  • Write detailed text on a wide range of familiar topics, like an essay on an experience using broad vocabulary.
  • Read through basic articles and reports, and appreciate the different styles used by the author.
  • Fluently communicate without strain with native speakers. For example, clearly explain their view on an event to the comprehension of the recipient.

CEFR Level C1: Advanced English

At the CEFR Level, an English language learner can:

  • Understand long and complex expressions even when related to unfamiliar subjects.
  • Write well-detailed text on complex subjects showing distinct writing styles and using organizational patterns.
  • Read through lengthy, complex text, like technical instructions or literary texts, while also noticing the change in style.
  • Effortlessly take part in any discussion, be it in a social or professional setting, without pausing and searching for words. 

CEFR Level C2: Proficient English

At the C2 CEFR level, a language learner can:

  • Clearly understand all forms of English language expressions even when delivered at fast native speed.
  • Write complex letters, essays, or reports using an appropriate style, flow, and logical structure, which helps the recipient notice and remember significant points.
  • Effortlessly read all forms of the English language, including abstract, structural, or linguistically complex text such as manuals, specialized articles, and literary works.
  • Can communicate in complex situations with ease while conveying shades of meaning. Also, have good familiarity with idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms.

A CEFR certificate is mostly required by schools and employers as proof of your language proficiency. 

It’s essential to take a standard English language learning test from an institution that uses the CEFR standards.

ELL’s English Programs and sistema de administración de enseñanza (LMS) provides online English test solutions based on the CEFR standard.

Educational institutions such as universities, K-12 schools, and language centers can easily adopt ELL’s testing solution and start assessing students right away. The scores generated from ELL’s assessment tests are equivalent to scores generated through internationally accredited tests such as TOEFL, TOEIC, and IELTS.

Request a testing demo from our Testing Expert here.

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