Language proficiency is difficult to measure, as everyone has different strengths, weaknesses, and learning styles. You may be able to tell the difference between a person who only speaks a few words in English and a native English speaker, but what about everyone in between? How can you determine your English level? And how many English proficiency levels are there?

Generally, The CEFR, Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, is one of many frameworks that describe your language proficiency. This standard includes 6 distinct English levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. Some institutions also recognize the pre-A1 level, though it is not as common. There are several frameworks with similar aims including the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL), the Canadian Language Benchmarks (CLB), and the Interagency Language Roundtable scale (ILR).

While the CEFR is a European scale and specifically designed to apply to any European language, it is now becoming a worldwide standard framework for language abilities, especially European languages, including English. The CEFR is not tied to any specific language test – and most standardized language tests now provide CEFR level equivalents.

The CEFR is used extensively in language teaching, both in the public education sector and in private language schools. In many countries, it has replaced previous leveling systems used in foreign language teaching. Most education ministries in Europe have an explicit CEFR-based goal for all students leaving secondary school, for example B2 in their first foreign language, B1 in their second. For job seekers, many European adults use a standardized test score, like the TOEIC, to describe their English level.

Adoption of the CEFR is also growing outside Europe, with some individual countries in Asia and Latin America adopting it in their education systems.

While the summaries above may give you a rough idea of where you are on a scale from A1 to C2, you’ll want to test your abilities in order to know for sure by english test used in your county such as TOEFL or IELTS. It is recommended using more than one source to test yourself, as no single test will give you a perfect assessment.

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