About Languages

Self-assess your level

Not sure which level is suitable for you? Use our assessment questions below to decide where to start.

The level system we use for language courses may seem complex, but it is based around something called the common European Framework for Languages (CEFR) which provides a method of learning, teaching and assessing which applies to all languages in Europe and beyond.

Alternatively, if you're still not sure, contact our Languages Team for some friendly advice. 

 

I have no prior knowledge of the language

We recommend stage 1 (CEFR A1)

Stage 1 is, obviously, where you start at the very beginning. It's expected that you're brand new to the subject.

There are 3 modules which are part of level 1. Most people will start at module 1 and work their way up.

 

I have studied the language for about one year 

We recommend stage 2: lower (CEFR A2)

This level is perfect for you if you can

  • hold a simple conversation and ask and answer simple questions on a variety of everyday topics (i.e. personal details, shopping, directions, time and numbers)
  • follow short, simple written directions (eg go from X to Y) and instructions and read and write short sentances on a variety of everyday topics (eg personal introduction, shopping lists, directions, timetables and numbers etc)
  • use basic verbal forms to talk about the past, present and future.

 

I have studied the language for about two years

We recommend stage 2 upper (working towards CEFR B1)

  • This level is perfect for you if you can
  • carry out simple transactions (eg in shops, bars, post offices, railway stations) and make simple plans with people (eg what to do, where to go and when to meet), expressing your likes, dislikes and simple opinions.
  • handle simple phone calls (eg ask to speak to someone, give number, answer a call, take a simple message)
  • understand a piece of formal or informal writing (eg a short letter, note or summary) use a directory to find a service, find the prices of items in classified newspaper adverts, use a menu
  • write short, basic descriptions of events and activities, and basic letters requesting information (eg about hotels)
  • use a range of verbal forms to talk about the present, past and future.

 

I have studied the language for about three years

We recommend stage 3 lower (CEFR B1)

This level is perfect if you can:

  • take part in simple conversation on a variety of everyday topics (eg weather, family, interests, times of working day, location of company departments), giving and justifying opinions and ideas
  • understand the gist of authentic conversations (eg interviews, adverts, news broadcast) and authentic texts (eg articles from the press) and produce a summary or translation of the given text
  • write a letter with a good degree of accuracy (eg giving an account of educational background, job, interests)
  • use of a range of grammar structures including basic conditional and subjunctive tenses, pronouns etc.

 

I have studied the language for about four years

We recommend stage 3 upper (working towards CEFR B2)

This level is perfect if you can:

  • understand details of authentic conversations of moderate length and complexity (eg interviews, adverts, news)
  • understand specific details and general information from routine telephone calls. 
  • handle most practical tasks in everyday situations (eg telephone enquiries, asking for a refund, negotiating a purchase)
  • give a short and straightforward presentation on a chosen topic in your academic or professional field
  • follow routine instructions (eg for a game, recipe, using equipment or installing computer software)
  • understand articles from the press or other authentic sources and produce a written summary covering the main points
  • write letters giving news, describing experiences and impressions, expressing feelings or giving or requesting detailed information (eg replying to an advertisement, applying for a job)
  • confidently use a wide range of grammar structures including conditional and subjunctive tenses, pronouns etc.

 

I have studied the language for about five years

We recommend stage 4 (CEFR B2)

This level is perfect if you can:

  • understand authentic, long passages of some complexity (eg interviews, adverts, news broadcasts etc)
  • participate in authentic conversation with native speakers deploying a good and appropriate range of generally accurate language and argue a viewpoint convincingly
  • understand authentic texts (eg articles from the press, literary extracts etc) with ease
  • write extended texts using a wide range of language and vocabulary accurately (eg reports, essays, letters and emails
  • confidently use a wide range of grammar structures including conditional and subjunctive tenses, pronouns etc.

 

 

I am a confident speaker and/or have spent time in a foreign country 

We recommend stage 5 (CEFR C1-C2)

This level is perfect if you can:

  • Easily follow and take part in complex conversations between native speakers in group discussion and debates, including those on abstract and unfamilar topics
  • understand a wide range of recorded and broadcast audio material, including some non standard usage and identify finer points of detail including implicit attitudes and relationships between speakers
  • give a clear, well structured presentation on a complex subject in your area of work, study or special interest
  • understand complex, technical information, operating instructions and specifications for familiar products and services
  • read contemporary literary texts with ease
  • write a wide range of formal and informal texts including reports, essays, letters and emails varying vocabulary and style according to the context
  • recognise common idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms and appreciate different styles and degrees of formality. 
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