…ASCERTAINING YOUR LANGUAGE LEVEL: A1-C2

The ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe) “Can Do” project developed a simplified set of 400+ descriptors for language examinations which relate to the Common Reference Levels. These descriptors are in the form of “can-do statements”, each saying more simply what a learner can do at every level. There are four sections: general, social/ tourist, work and study. The ALTE project also gave its own names to the CEFR levels from the “Breakthrough level” to “Level 5”.

The Language Center follows the Common Reference levels (mainly for general and business) basing its courses on them. Generally, we will advise you to join a course at the appropriate level.

Business and General "Can Do" statements (ALTE/CEFR) English as a example

A1 (Breakthrough)

GENERAL

  • Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
  • Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.
  • Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help

BUSINESS

  • CAN understand and pass on simple instructions and messages in English, e.g.. “Meet on Friday at 10.00 a.m”.
  • CAN understand a short report on a familiar subject in English, provided that it is in simple English and the content can be guessed.
  • CAN write a simple enquiry in English to a colleague such as Kollegen “Can I have 20 …. ?

A2 (Waystage)

GENERAL

  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

BUSINESS

  • CAN express simple wishes within his/her own field of work, e.g. “I would like to order 25….. “.
  • CAN understand most short reports or instruction manuals in English which refer to his/her own field of work provided enough time is given for the task.
  • CAN write a short enquiry to a colleague or a known external business partner in English.
B1 (Threshhold)

GENERAL

  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.
  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

BUSINESS

  • CAN express opinions on abstract/cultural matters in a limited way or offer advice withinin a known area and understand instructions.
    CAN understand the general meaning of non-standard letters and theoretical articles in English.
  • CAN make relatively exact notes in English during a meeting if he/he is familiar with the topic or they can guess the subject matter.

B2 (Vantage)

GENERAL

  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialisation.
  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

BUSINESS

  • CAN take most standard messages which are common during a day’s work in English and pass them on to colleagues and give a talk on a range of topics.
  • CAN scan texts for relevant information and understand detailed instructions, reports and product descriptions in English.
  • CAN also understanding advice or reports.
  • CAN deal with all routine correspondence in English with regard to goods and services and mak notes while someone is talking or deal with unusual requests.
C1 (effective operational proficiency)

GENERAL

  • Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.
  • Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
  • Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

BUSINESS

  • CAN take active part in English in both meetings and discussions as well as seminars within the framework of their own field of work. This includes being able to put both pro and contra arguments with fluency.
  • CAN read and understand articles and corresondence in English which is not written in standardised language.
  • CAN cope with a wide range of daily situations in English. These can demand professional action from collegues or from external business partners.

C2 (Mastery)

GENERAL

  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
  • Can summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
  • Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.

BUSINESS

  • CAN advise or talk about complex or sensitive issues, understanding colloquial references and dealing confidently with hostile questions in English, including financial or legal matters.
  • CAN understand complex articles in English, including documents, correspondence and reports, including complex contents and the finer points.
  • CAN take careful and detailed notes at meetings while being able to actively take part in the meeting, showing fluency and accuracy.

ALTE now establishes a six-level framework of language examination standards.

The following table compares the ALTE levels with the CEFR levels and EFL exams:

ALTE levelCEFR levelESOL examIELTS examTOEIC[1]TOEFL[2]
Level 5C2CPE7.5+
Level 4C1CAE6.5–7945+110+
Level 3B2FCE5–6785+87+
Level 2B1PET3.5–4.5550+57+
Level 1A2KET3225+
BreakthroughA11–2120+