1. What’s my English level?
These descriptors are based on material from the British Council Core Curriculum 2011. The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) organizes language proficiency into levels. This page focuses on the middle and upper levels, which are ‘the intermediate plateau’ where progress in learning gains tend to be slower and require a change in methodology compared to acquiring a language at lower levels.
A speaker / writer at this band can provide concrete information required in an interview or consultation like describing symptoms to a doctor or sharing information about job responsibilities but does so with limited precision. She can explain why something is a problem, summarize and give her opinion about a short story, article, talk, discussion or video and answer further questions in detail. She can carry out a prepared interview, checking and confirming information though she may occasionally have to ask for repetition if the other person’s response is too fast or too detailed or too extended. She can also describe how to do something by giving detailed instructions. She can exchange accumulated factual information on routine or non-routine matters within her field with some confidence.
Speakers / writers at B2 can make effective arguments; she can account for and sustain her positions in discussions by providing relevant explanations and arguments. She can explain her point of view on a topical issue, explain the advantages and disadvantages of various options, develop an argument and give reasons in support of or against a particular point of view. She takes an active part in informal discussions in familiar context. She expresses her point of view clearly, evaluating alternative proposals and making and responding to hypotheses. She is able to hold her own in social discourse. She understands what is said to her in the standard spoken language, even in noisy environments. She initiates discourse, easily takes her turn when appropriate, and end conversations. She can interact socially and professionally with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes interaction with native speakers possible without imposing strain on either side. Additionally, a speaker at this level has enough language awareness to correct her mistakes if they lead to misunderstandings. She is cognizant of her usual mistakes and consciously monitors her speech or writing. She generally corrects slips in speech as she becomes conscious of them.
A speaker or writer at this level is effective at argumentation and in social discourse. She has good language awareness. Conversation management is better than at previous levels; she skillfully uses cooperation strategies like giving feedback, following up statements, understanding inferences of other speakers. She uses linking phrases to clearly mark relationships between ideas and develops her arguments systematically with appropriate highlighting of significant points and by adding relevant supporting details.
At Level C1, an English user has a broad range of language that allows fluid spontaneous communication almost effortlessly. Her lexical repertoire allows her to overcome any gaps with circumlocution. She rarely searches for expressions or has to use avoidance strategies to mask gaps. Only difficult subject matter gets in the way of a natural smooth flow of language for speakers at this level.
This level is considered to be mastery, indicating the degree of precision and appropriateness characteristic of educated native users of a language. Her language conveys fine shades of meaning precisely by using a wide range a modification devices.
She has a strong command of expressions, colloquialisms with awareness of the connotative level of meaning. She can backtrack and restructure around a difficulty smoothly so that her interlocutor is hardly aware of it and causing no disruption in the flow of conversation.
Reflect on your English level
i) According to these descriptions, what level are you at? How (exactly) do you know?
ii) Do you know how to develop your skills at the next level of proficiency? In reading, writing, listening and speaking?