What level is your English?

Haben Sie sich schon ein­mal gefragt, für was eigentlich un­sere grün-or­ange-roten Sym­bole ste­hen? Und was genau sich hin­ter dem sper­ri­gen Be­griff „Ge­mein­samer Europäis­cher Ref­eren­zrah­men“ver­birgt? CLARE MAAS hat Ant­worten auf diese und viele weit­ere Fra­gen

Spotlight - - FRONT PAGE -

If you take a look at the right­hand col­umn on page 5 of Spot­light, you will find the lit­tle text box be­low, which tells you about the lan­guage lev­els in the mag­a­zine: ABOUT THE LAN­GUAGE LEV­ELS The lev­els of dif­fi­culty in Spot­light mag­a­zine cor­re­spond roughly to The Com­mon Euro­pean Frame­work of Ref­er­ence for Lan­guages:

EASY MEDIUM AD­VANCED A2 B1–B2 C1–C2

This in­for­ma­tion is cer­tainly use­ful to teach­ers and stu­dents, but does it mean so much to you, or does it lead to a string of ques­tions you’ve never dared to ask? What do these com­bi­na­tions of let­ters and num­bers re­ally mean? What is The Com­mon Euro­pean Frame­work of Ref­er­ence for Lan­guages (CEFR)? Who thought it all up, and why? Most im­por­tantly, though, what does it mean to you as a learner of English?

We’ve asked lan­guage au­thor and univer­sity lec­turer Clare Maas to an­swer these and many other ques­tions for you.

What does CEFR mean?

CEFR stands for “Com­mon Euro­pean Frame­work of Ref­er­ence for Lan­guages”. It is a set of guide­lines for mea­sur­ing your progress in learn­ing a for­eign lan­guage. The Coun­cil of Europe de­vised it to make a com­par­i­son of dif­fer­ent lan­guage cer­tifi­cates eas­ier. The CEFR can be used with any lan­guage you learn, not only English. Even so, a lot of the fol­low-up re­search has come from English-lan­guage teach­ing and learn­ing.

What are the CEFR lev­els?

The CEFR in­cludes six lev­els of progress, which are now used as the stan­dard rank­ings of for­eign-lan­guage com­pe­tence in Europe and beyond. For each level, the CEFR de­scribes what learn­ers are ca­pa­ble of in the skills of read­ing, lis­ten­ing, speak­ing and writ­ing. The frame­work looks at how many things learn­ers can do in a for­eign lan­guage (quan­ti­ta­tive mea­sures) and how well they can do them (qual­i­ta­tive mea­sures) to de­scribe their gen­eral lan­guage com­pe­tence.

The six lev­els are called:

A1 — begin­ner / break­through A2 — el­e­men­tary / waystage

B1 — in­ter­me­di­ate / thresh­old B2 — up­per in­ter­me­di­ate / van­tage C1 — ad­vanced / ef­fec­tive op­er­a­tor C2 — pro­fi­ciency / mas­tery

EASY Learn­ers at A1 or A2 level are called “ba­sic users”.

They can un­der­stand and use ev­ery­day words and sim­ple sen­tences about real things. They can talk about them­selves, their home towns and their fam­i­lies. They can un­der­stand oth­ers who speak slowly about these top­ics, and they can read short, easy texts.

When learn­ers are at A2 level, they can un­der­stand and use words im­por­tant to their own lives, such as work, shop­ping or hob­bies. They can also share sim­ple in­for­ma­tion on ev­ery­day top­ics. Most ba­sic users of a lan­guage form short sen­tences, make a lot of mis­takes and do not speak very quickly.

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