The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment, abbreviated as CEFR or CEF, is a guideline used to describe achievements of learners of foreign languages across Europe.
The Common European Framework divides learners into three broad divisions that can be divided into six levels; for each level, it describes what a learner is supposed to be able to do in reading, listening, speaking and writing.

These levels are:

Level A1 Breakthrough or beginner


A learner:

  • Can understand people if they speak very slowly and clearly about simple everyday topics
  • Can understand people describing objects and possessions 
  • Can understand simple questions and instructions addressed carefully and slowly 
  • Can understand figures and times given in clear announcements, for example at a railway station
  • Can understand simple directions, provided that people speak very slowly and very clearly
  • Can very slowly read very short, simple texts by understanding familiar words and basic phrases
  • Can follow short simple written directions
  • Can understand short simple greetings and messages, for example SMS phone messages
  • Can ask and answer simple questions and respond to simple statements on very familiar topics
  • Can ask simply for directions
  • Can introduce themselves, describe objects, what they like and dislike, can do and can’t do
  • Can write simple sentences about themselves, for example where they live and what they do
  • Can complete a questionnaire with their personal details. Can write a simple postcard
  • Can use correctly some simple grammar structures; speak slowly in a series of very short phrases or separate words
  • Can greet people, ask for things and say goodbye correctly

The number of study hours required to reach this examination level is approximately 100-120 hours


Level A2 Way stage or elementary


A learner:

  • Can socialise simply but effectively using the simplest common expressions and routines
  • Can handle most everyday situations, e.g. shopping, eating out and checking travel times
  • Can understand enough of what people say to be able to meet immediate needs, provided people speak slowly and clearly
  • Can follow the main points of TV news, if subject is familiar and people talk slowly and clearly
  • Can read short, simple texts on familiar subjects, which consist of high frequency, everyday language
  • Can understand the main points in short newspaper or magazine stories and instructions expressed in simple language
  • Can understand simple texts, emails and letters from friends or colleagues
  • Can have short conversations with friends and ask and answer simple questions about familiar topics, can ask for and give opinions, agree and disagree in a simple way
  • Can give and follow simple directions and instructions
  • Can write about familiar topics in simple sentences (people, places, job, school, family, hobbies, etc.)
  • Can start, maintain or end a short conversation in a simple way, but need to search for the words and sometimes must simplify structures

The number of study hours required to reach this examination level is approximately 180–200 hours

Level B1 Threshold or intermediate


A learner:

  • Range of language is sufficient enough to describe usual and predictable situations and to express thoughts on abstract or cultural as well as everyday topics 
  • Can explain the main points relating to an idea, problem, or argument, can do it relatively easily, despite occasional pauses to plan and correct 
  • Can understand straightforward information about everyday, study- or work-related topics, provided people speak clearly in a familiar accent
  • Can follow TV programmes on topics of personal interest when people speak clearly
  • Can read and understand the main points in straightforward texts on subjects of personal or professional interest
  • Can read simplified versions of novels and the main points in formal letters with little use of a dictionary
  • Can start a conversation on topics that are familiar or of personal interest, showing opinions, attitudes, feelings, etc 
  • Can express their opinions on abstract topics like films and music
  • Can write about a variety of familiar subjects comparing and contrasting different opinions, for example write a detailed description of an experience

The number of study hours required to reach this examination level is approximately 350–400 hours


Level B2 Vantage or upper intermediate


A learner:

  • Can communicate fluently and spontaneously, express themselves clearly, can reformulate ideas in different ways, can choose different ways of saying things
  • Can maintain good grammatical control, but sometimes makes mistakes and correct them afterwards
  • Can overcome gaps in vocabulary with paraphrase and alternative expression
  • Can understand standard spoken language, live or broadcast
  • Can follow lectures and presentations even if the organisation and language are both complex
  • Can understand in detail TV documentaries, talk shows, plays and films in standard language
  • Can understand announcements, instructions, telephone messages etc. 
  • Can use a range of language in writing to express abstract ideas, can give clear, well-developed, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects 
  • Can converse spontaneously, reformulate ideas in different ways 
  • Can read novels and short stories with little use of a dictionary, have a broad active reading vocabulary

The number of study hours required to reach this examination level is approximately 500–600 hours


Level C1 Effective Operational Proficiency or advanced


A learner:

  • Has a good command of a broad vocabulary, including collocations and idiomatic expressions; they can overcome gaps in their vocabulary with alternatives
  • Can produce clear, well-structured speech and writing; can link the ideas into smoothly-flowing, coherent text
  • Can express themselves fluently and spontaneously, almost effortlessly
  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes
  • Can write well-structured texts which show a high degree of grammatical correctness and various vocabulary and style 
  • Can write clear, detailed, well- developed descriptions and imaginative texts 
  • Can give a clear, well-structured presentation of a complex subject; can confidently handle detailed questions and spontaneously follow up points raised by members of the audience
  • Can participate easily and appropriately in conversation with good understanding of humour and irony 
  • Can understand in detail lengthy, complex texts, can understand a wide range of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms and recognise implicit meaning
  • Can understand complex reports, analyses and commentaries 
  • Can follow lectures, presentations and demonstrations with relative ease
  • Can follow films which contain slang and a wide range of idioms

The number of study hours required to reach this examination level is approximately 700–800 hours


Level C2 Mastery or proficiency


A learner:

  • Can converse comfortably, appropriately and without limitations in casual conversation and in more formal discussions and debates
  • Can express themselves naturally, effortlessly and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations, reformulate ideas in differing ways 
  • Can make full and appropriate use of a variety of organisational patterns and a wide range of connectors, idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms
  • Can interact naturally, picking up and using non-verbal and intonational clues without effort
  • Can produce written work that shows good organizational structure, with an understanding of the style and content appropriate to the task
  • Can write stories and descriptions in a clear, sophisticated style appropriate to the genre, they can write clear, well-structured complex letters in an appropriate style
  • Can understand any kind of text including those written in a very colloquial style and containing many idiomatic expressions or slang, understand indirect or ambiguous meaning
  • Can easily understand any formal correspondence, including on specialized or legal matters
  • Can understand any kind of spoken language delivered at fast speed, can appreciate irony and sarcasm 
  • Can follow debates, discussions, specialised lectures and presentations that contain a high degree of colloquial expressions and unfamiliar terminology
  • Can fully appreciate films, plays, TV and the radio, including humour and nuance

The number of study hours required to reach this examination level is approximately 1,000–1,200 hours