Standard for grading language proficiency

Widely accepted European standard for grading an individual's language proficiency uses six reference levels.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR, is a recommended guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages.

Level Level name Description
Basic user A1 Breakthrough or beginner Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases also can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
A2 Way stage or elementary Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance and can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Independent user B1 Threshold or intermediate Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school and leisure. Can deal with most situations likely to arise while travelling. Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions.
B2 Vantage or 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 with native speakers. Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects.
Proficient user C1 Effective Operational Proficiency or advanced Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning. Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
C2 Mastery or proficiency 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 the most complex situations.

Cambridge ESOL said that each level is reached with the following guided learning hours: A2, 180–200; B1, 350–400; B2, 500–600; C1, 700–800, and C2, 1,000–1,200.

More information about CERF on Wikipedia