What is your level of English and how is it measured?

In Europe, a person’s level of fluency in a foreign language is often measured using the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR for short). This is a way of talking about one’s language level in a general sense; it’s not specific to any one language.

❝One language sets you in a corridor for life. Two languages open every door along the way.❞


The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages divides language learners into three broad categories with two divisions each, for a total of six levels. The three categories are:

  • A – basic user
  • B – independent user
  • C – proficient user

The six levels are:

  • A1 – beginner
  • A2 – elementary
  • B1 – intermediate
  • B2 – upper intermediate
  • C1 – advanced
  • C2 – proficient

Language users are evaluated according to their reading, listening, speaking, and writing.

Here is a description of what is expected of language learners at each level, along with some grammar and resources specific to English, as well as the exams aimed for that level. There’s also a link to a level test at the end, so you can find out what your own English level is.

A1: Beginner

  • 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.
Exams Movers for Children (Cambridge), GESE Grade 2 (Trinity)
  • adjectives
  • adverbs of frequency
  • comparatives and superlatives
  • going to
  • how much/how many
  • common uncountable nouns
  • I’d like
  • imperatives: positive and negative
  • modals: can/can’t/could/couldn’t
  • past simple
  • possessive “s”
  • prepositions of place and time
  • present continuous
  • present simple
  • pronouns: simple, personal
  • questions
  • there is/there are
  • to be, including questions and negatives


A2: Elementary

  • 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.
Exams Flyers for Children (Cambridge), KET (Cambridge), ISE

Foundation (Trinity)

  • adjectives: comparative and superlative
  • adverbial phrases of time, place and frequency
  • adverbs of frequency
  • countables and uncountables: with much/many, with articles
  • future time: will and going to
  • gerunds
  • imperatives
  • modals: can/could, have to, should
  • past continuous
  • past simple
  • phrasal verbs: common
  • prepositional phrases: place, time and movement
  • present continuous, including for future
  • present perfect
  • questions
  • want/would like
  • wh-questions in past: who, what, when, where, why
  • zero and first conditional


B1: Intermediate

  • 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 and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Exams PET (Cambridge), ISE I (Trinity), TOEIC
  • adverbs
  • complex question tags
  • conditionals: second and third
  • connecting words expressing cause and effect, contrast, etc.
  • future continuous
  • modals: must/can’t, might, may, will, probably, should have/might have, must/have to
  • past continuous
  • past perfect
  • phrasal verbs: extended
  • present perfect continuous
  • present perfect vs. past simple
  • reported speech
  • simple passive
  • will and going to for prediction


B2: Upper Intermediate

  • 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 Independent disadvantages of various options.
Exams FCE First (Cambridge), ISE II (Trinity), TOEIC
  • adjectives and adverbs
  • future continuous
  • future perfect
  • future perfect continuous
  • mixed conditionals
  • modals of deduction and speculation
  • narrative tenses
  • passives
  • past perfect
  • past perfect continuous
  • phrasal verbs, extended
  • relative clauses
  • reported speech
  • wish
  • would: expressing habits in the past

C1: Advanced

  • 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.
Exams CAE Advanced (Cambridge), ISE III (Trinity), TOEIC
  • all futures
  • all passive forms
  • inversion with negative adverbials
  • mixed conditionals in past, present
  • and future
  • modals in the past
  • narrative tenses for experience: including passive
  • phrasal verbs, especially splitting
  • regrets: wish/if only


C2: Proficient

  • 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
Exams CPE Proficiency (Cambridge), ISE IV (Trinity), TOEIC
  • all off the grammar listed above, used nearly without error



What’s your level? Find out here.

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Need to improve your English level? Find a teacher for private in-person classes in Spain on goprofe.com.



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