Text: CERF - a system to determine language levels

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One of the most important elements to consider when creating tasks, lesson plans and curriculum is the needs, interests and language level of the students. 

There are several ways and scales to classify language levels and one of them is the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, often referred to as the CEFR. 

The six levels within the CEFR are A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2, which can be further grouped into three main categories: BASIC USER, AUTONOMOUS USER, and EXPERT USER. 

The different levels apply to the four main language skills: READING, WRITING, SPEAKING, and LISTENING. 

It is important to note that the levels of the different skills may vary (e.g. for the same learner SPEAKING may be B2, while WRITING may be A1).




A1 | Beginner

A2 | Elementary

B1 | Intermediate

B2 | Upper Intermediate

C1 | Advanced

C2 | Proficiency

Understand and use very basic expressions to satisfy concrete needs.
Introduce themselves and ask others questions about personal details. Interact simply as long as the other person speaks slowly and clearly.

Understand frequently used expressions in most intermediate areas such as shopping, family, employment, etc.

Complete tasks that are routine and involve a direct exchange of information.

Describe matters of immediate need in simple terms.

Understand points regarding family, work, school or leisure-related topics.
Deal with most travel situations in areas where the language is spoken. Create simple texts on topics of personal interest. Describe experiences, events, dreams, and ambitions, as well as opinions or plans in brief.

Understand the main ideas of a complex text such as a technical piece related to their field.
Spontaneously interact without too much strain for either the learner or the native speaker. Produce a detailed text on a wide range of subjects.

Understand a wide range of longer and more demanding texts or conversations.
Express ideas without too much searching. Effectively use the language for social, academic or professional situations. Create well-structured and detailed texts on complex topics.

Understand almost everything read or heard with ease.
Summarize information from a variety of sources into a coherent presentation. Express themselves using precise meaning in complex scenarios.

This system is widely used in the EU, however, truth to be told, using these categories is mainly useful for academics and employers, as it is the main scale for official certification. 

However, outside of the professional or academic fields, the exact CERF level is rarely necessary.  

Yet, it can also be used as a tool for self-assessment as learners can identify what skills they have corresponding to the specific level. Based on the table above you can approximately identify the level of your learners, thus using different levels of difficulty for your tasks.