What Are the Different Levels of Language Proficiency? (2023)

What Are the Different Levels of Language Proficiency? (1)

January 10, 2021 by Michelle Margaret Fajkus HSA News and Reviews, Learning Strategies 0 comments

Do you know your level of fluency according to official levels of language proficiency?

The challenge of determining your language proficiency is due to a lack of universal standards of measurement. In fact, several similar frameworks are currently in use.

According to Education.com, “Language proficiency is a measurement of how well an individual has mastered a language. Proficiency is measured in terms of receptive and expressive language skills, syntax, vocabulary, semantics, and other areas that demonstrate language abilities.”

Read this blog post to understand the different levels of language proficiency, find out how to determine your own level, and learn how to continue moving toward fluency!

Common Language Proficiency Frameworks in the U.S.

The term “levels of fluency” refers to predetermined levels of language skills that pertain to your ability to listen, speak, write, and read in a foreign language.

(Video) Levels of Proficiency in a Foreign Language

Your level of fluency helps potential employers assess whether you’re qualified for a specific job position, so it’s useful to include it on your resume. To assess your current skill level in a foreign language, you can take online assessments or official exams.

In the U.S., two commonly used proficiency frameworks exist:

  1. The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL)
  2. The Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale

The ACTFL scale consists of five fluency levels: novice, intermediate, advanced, superior, and distinguished. Each level contains three sublevels of proficiency (low, medium, and high).

The ILR scale includes the following language proficiency levels:

IRL Scale: 0-5 Levels of Language Proficiency

The levels of language proficiency detailed below come from the Interagency Language Round-table (ILR) scale, which is established by the US Foreign Service Institute.

0: No Proficiency

Essentially, this level indicates no knowledge of the language. You may know a few words but can’t form sentences or engage in basic conversation. Also known as No Spanish.

1: Elementary Proficiency

At this starting point of the levels of language proficiency, you can form basic sentences, including asking and answering simple questions. If you’re traveling to a new country and just beginning to study a language, this is your level. Also known as Elementary Spanish.

2: Limited Working Proficiency

At this level, you can handle basic commands and limited casual conversations. If you’re at this level, you still need help with more complex conversations and can only operate independently in basic conversations. Also known as Limited Working Spanish.

3: Professional Working Proficiency

Once you reach this language proficiency level, you can make contributions to meetings and hold conversations with customers or clients. You can speak at a normal speed in the language and have developed a fairly extensive vocabulary. You probably still need help to understand more subtle and nuanced phrasing. Many employers require a new hire to be at this level or above. Also known as Professional Working Spanish.

4: Full Professional Proficiency

At this level, you can have advanced discussions on a wide range of topics like personal life, current events, and technical topics related to your field. You may occasionally misspeak or make minor mistakes, but your vocabulary is extensive and you can carry on conversations with ease. Also known as Full Professional Spanish.

5: Native/Bilingual Proficiency

If you’re at this language proficiency level, you were either raised speaking the language or have been speaking it so long that you’re completely fluent. Also known as Native Spanish or Bilingual English and Spanish.

(Video) What are the differences between language proficiency levels?

Hand-picked for you: Spanish Reading Practice Tools for Spanish Learners of Every Level

What Are the Different Levels of Language Proficiency? (2)

Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

Although the CEFR placement test is not well-known in the United States, it is common throughout the rest of the world. Job candidates from Latin America, Africa, and Europe typically state their language proficiency level using the CEFR categories. It is an internationally recognized way of communicating your language skills.

The six levels in this system ranges from A1 to C2. Most online Spanish language courses aim to get you to the same level in all areas, but don’t be surprised if your skill level varies across language acquisition areas. You may be at an A2 level for speaking, but a B1 level for reading.

See also: 10 Effective Habits for All Levels to Learn Spanish and Speak It Fluently

A1 and A2

At these levels, you are considered to be a basic user. As an A1 user, you can understand slow, articulated speech and ask simple questions. At an A2 skill level, you can compose short phrases and common sentences and understand slower conversations.

In other words, A1 and A2 users are beginners. However, an A1 student is not a complete beginner. According to the standards above, a student at the A1 level already has some primary mastery of the language. So, to reach the A1 level, you need to complete an introductory Spanish course.

B1 and B2

The B1 and B2 levels are for independent users. If you want to work abroad or travel, your goal would be the B1 level, or ideally B2.

At the B1 level, you can confidently get around Latin America or Spain on your own. While you may not understand everything, you know enough Spanish to get directions and hold basic conversations. A B2 user has more vocabulary and can work a job that requires intermediate language skills.

C1 and C2

The C1 and C2 levels are for proficient users. If your goal is Spanish fluency, aim for a C1 level in which you can fluently speak and express yourself. A C1 level does not mean you understand every word in the language but that you can handle most conversations and some tricky topics.

The C2 level is complete mastery. Often, even native speakers do not reach this level. This level pertains mostly to college professors, language gurus, and experts in a specialized field.

(Video) What Is Your Language Level?

Discover your level with our professional Spanish teachers at Homeschool Spanish Academy!

Learn more: The CEFR and How Homeschool Spanish Academy Uses It

Ready to Climb the Levels of Language Proficiency?

The journey through the different levels of language proficiency may not be quick and easy, but it’s certainly worth the effort! You now have an in-depth understanding of the official levels according to two frameworks. The next step is to practice your skills with a native Spanish speaker. Try out a free class with one of our friendly, certified teachers today! They will help you effectively move your Spanish skills to the next level.

Enhance your Spanish knowledge with our blog! Check out our latest posts:

  • Spanish Preterite vs Imperfect: 25 Online Exercises to Practice Your Skills
  • 10 Original and Lovely Mexican Terms of Endearment
  • Top 15 New Year’s Resolutions in Spanish
  • 100+ Basic Spanish Words and Phrases for Travelers
  • 29 Cool and Catchy Spanish Phrases To Use With Friends [+Audio]
  • 52 Spanish Connecting Words to Sound Like a Native
  • ‘How Much Is It?’ in Spanish: A Guide to Travel and Shopping
  • Hallar vs Encontrar: What’s the Difference?
  • Author
  • Recent Posts

Follow on FB

Michelle Margaret Fajkus

(Video) Language Proficiency Levels

Editor & Writer at Homeschool Spanish Academy

Michelle Margaret Fajkus is a bilingual writer and longtime yoga teacher. A former advertising copywriter turned bilingual elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer, editor and translator. A native Texan, Michelle has Mexican roots and learned Spanish in middle and high school. She has become more fluent thanks to living as an expat in Guatemala. She lives with her family on beautiful Lake Atitlan.

Follow on FB

Latest posts by Michelle Margaret Fajkus (see all)

  • 10 Differences in Latin Culture Compared to U.S. Culture - November 21, 2022
  • How to Say ‘Sentence’ in Spanish: 5 Useful Synonyms - November 8, 2022
  • What are Spanish ‘Go Verbs’? - October 21, 2022

HSA Spanish levels of proficiency

(Video) Language Proficiency Levels Explained, Finally! CEFR, ACTFL, DELE and DALF.


What are the 3 levels of proficiency? ›

The CA ELD Standards define three proficiency levels—Emerging, Expanding, and Bridging*—to describe the stages of English language development through which ELs are expected to progress as they improve their abilities in listening, speaking, reading, and writing English.

How do you answer what is your proficiency in English? ›

You can say, for example, that your level of proficiency in writing English is B2, whereas your spoken English is C1. The CEFR also helps you to give a very detailed description of your language skills if you are applying for a job for which languages are a key aspect of the job.

What are the 6 levels of language proficiency? ›

At the given level of English language proficiency, English language learners will process, understand, produce, or use:
  • 6 (Reaching)
  • 5 (Bridging)
  • 4 (Expanding)
  • 3 (Developing)
  • •general and some specific language of the content areas.
  • 2 (Beginning)
  • 1 (Entering)

What is level of proficiency? ›

The Proficiency Levels are descriptions of what individuals can do with language in terms of speaking, writing, listening, and reading in real-world situations in a spontaneous and non-rehearsed context.

How do you describe language proficiency on a resume? ›

Here is a template you can use when listing languages in their own section:
  1. Fluent in [language] and [language]
  2. Proficient in [language] reading and writing.
  3. Conversant in [language}
  4. [number] years of high school and college [language] education.
  5. Certificate in conversational [language]
Feb 4, 2020

What are the 4 different types of skill levels? ›

For example, skill levels can be Trainee, Novice, Proficient, or Expert.

How do you answer a proficiency question? ›

Techniques for Answering Competency Questions
  1. Situation: Describe the situation.
  2. Task: Describe what task was required of you.
  3. Action: Tell the interviewer what action you took.
  4. Result: Conclude by describing the result of that action.
Nov 2, 2022

How do you classify English levels? ›

There are six CEFR levels:
  1. A0/A1 English (Beginner/Elementary) ...
  2. A2 English (Pre Intermediate) ...
  3. B1 English (Intermediate) ...
  4. B2 English (Upper Intermediate) ...
  5. C1 English (Advanced) ...
  6. C2 English (Proficient)

What are the 5 stages of English language proficiency? ›

The Five Stages of Second Language Acquisition

Students learning a second language move through five predictable stages: Preproduction, Early Production, Speech Emergence, Intermediate Fluency, and Advanced Fluency (Krashen & Terrell, 1983).

What are the 5 levels of language analysis? ›

The scientific study of language may be referred to as linguistic analysis. The five main branches of linguistics are phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, and pragmatics.

What are the Level 5 languages? ›

They are described as “hard languages”. Category V – It usually takes 88 weeks or 2200 hours to reach S-3/R-3 proficiency in these languages. This small group of “super-hard languages” includes Chinese (Mandarin), Cantonese, Japanese, Korean and Arabic.

What is your proficiency fluency level? ›

The term "levels of fluency" refers to predetermined levels of language skills that correlate with a person's proficiency when speaking, writing and reading a foreign language. Your level of fluency on a resume helps potential employers decide whether or not you're qualified for a specific job position.

What is basic proficiency in a language? ›

Basic: The knowledge of vocabulary words, ability to speak simple phrases or sentences; elementary reading and writing skills.

What does language proficiency mean on a job application? ›

Proficient: A proficient language ability involves the ability to speak, read and write the language with minimal difficulty. Proficient speakers can hold a conversation with a native speaker easily but may need some things repeated or colloquialisms explained.

How do you describe your skill level? ›

You can highlight your skill level by listing your skills in experience-based categories. This allows employers to identify the areas in which you claim to be an expert, proficient or novice.

What are the 5 levels of competence? ›

They offer five stages: novice, advanced beginner, competent, proficient, and expert. Novices acquire know-how, which is the tacit knowledge of how to perform a task or function through practice, and sometimes painful, experience.

What are the different skill levels? ›

Assessing skills is not an easy task.
  • 1 - Novice.
  • 2 - Advanced Beginner.
  • 3 - Competent.
  • 4 - Proficient.
  • 5 - Expert.

How do you evaluate the language proficiency of your students? ›

One way to describe general language proficiency is to see it as the ability to read, write, listen and speak in real situations. To test this we'd usually develop a test for each skill, with questions that are designed to imitate real life and that are assessed based on how performance reflects real life.

What is proficiency test with example? ›

Proficiency test means any alternative to a con- ventional written examination that is used to measure a trainee's mastery of course content. An oral examination offered to a trainee with a manual disability is an example of a proficiency test.

How do I answer my skills? ›

Sample answer: I am a great communicator. I can present my ideas well in-person, in writing and through social media. I've worked hard to sharpen those skills because I feel that the value of a great idea is lost if I can't present it in a way that others can understand.

How many English proficiency levels are there? ›

The CEFR divides language ability into six levels (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2). It also gives an internationally-recognised description of each level.

What is proficient level of English? ›

C1 – Advanced (Proficient)

Once you have reached the C2 level, you are considered an advanced student of the English language. You now have a firmer grasp of more complex grammar structures, implicit meaning in both text and speech, as well as the ability to speak English fluently in almost any environment.

How many levels of language are there? ›

So, what exactly are the different levels of language learning? Well, many teachers and experts around the world use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The CEFR has six levels from beginner (A1) to very advanced (C2).

What does language level A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 & C2 mean? ›

What is the difference between A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 in terms of language levels? The three broad levels are A1/A2 ("Basic User"), B1/B2 ("Independent User"), and C1/C2 ("Proficient User"). Let's take a look at what you should be able to communicate at the various levels set out by CERF.

Is it better to be proficient or fluent? ›

Proficient is less advanced than fluent

According to this document, a "Proficient" speaker "is very skilled in the use of a language but who uses the language less easily and at a less-advanced level than a native or fluent speaker".

How many levels are there in language? ›

So, what exactly are the different levels of language learning? Well, many teachers and experts around the world use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The CEFR has six levels from beginner (A1) to very advanced (C2).

What are the 7 stages of language? ›

What are the stages of language development?
  • Pre-linguistic stage. Also known as the pre-linguistic stage, the first stage of language development often occurs between zero and six months. ...
  • Babbling stage. ...
  • Holophrastic stage. ...
  • Two-word stage. ...
  • Telegraphic stage. ...
  • Multi-word stage.
Jul 13, 2021

What are the 3 stages of language? ›

Three Stages of Speech Development
  • 1st stage- Social speech (or external speech) "In no way is this speech related to intellect or thinking."(Luria, 1992) In this stage a child uses speech to control the behavior ofothers. ...
  • 2nd stage- Egocentric Speech. ...
  • 3rd stage- Inner Speech.

What happens when A1 A2 B1 B2 C1 c2? ›

If a1a2=b1b2=c1c2, the system of equations are consistent , coincident lines and have infinite solutions. the system of equations are consistent , coincident lines and have infinite solutions.

What is A1 A2 B1 B2 C1? ›

A1 (Beginner) A2 (Elementary) B1 (Pre-Intermediate) B2 (Intermediate) C1 (Upper-Intermediate)

Is B2 fluent? ›

Level B2: Basic Fluency

Reaching B2 is generally considered by most people as having basic fluency. You'll have a working vocabulary of around 4000 words.

What are the types of English proficiency? ›

The most popular English proficiency tests are IELTS, TOEFL, TOEIC, CELPIP and the Cambridge English Qualifications of KET, PET, FCE, CAE and CPE.

How many levels of English proficiency are there? ›

There are 6 English levels determined by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). These levels are expressed as A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, and C2. The CEFR English levels are widely accepted as the global standard for grading an individual's language proficiency.

Can you be proficient but not fluent? ›

In terms of language, the “proficient” label can refer to someone who is very skilled in the use of a language but who uses the language less easily and at a less-advanced level than a native or fluent speaker.

Does proficient mean pass? ›

According to Ed Trust West (The ABCs of AYP, Raising Achievement for all Students, 2003) proficient means that students are on grade level and have passed the tests.

What is the best level of proficiency in English? ›

There are six CEFR levels:
  • A0/A1 English (Beginner/Elementary) ...
  • A2 English (Pre Intermediate) ...
  • B1 English (Intermediate) ...
  • B2 English (Upper Intermediate) ...
  • C1 English (Advanced) ...
  • C2 English (Proficient)


1. English Language Proficiency Levels
2. CEFR Language Levels Explained: What is A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2?
(Fluent in 3 Months)
3. Why Are Language Learning Proficiency Levels Important?
(Spanish Blueprints)
4. Language proficiency levels and some tips on how to learn and teach to reach the next level
5. What Levels of language fluency are there? What level of proficiency do you have? Proficiency levels
6. Overview of the language proficiency levels
Top Articles
Latest Posts
Article information

Author: Van Hayes

Last Updated: 07/02/2023

Views: 5237

Rating: 4.6 / 5 (46 voted)

Reviews: 85% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Van Hayes

Birthday: 1994-06-07

Address: 2004 Kling Rapid, New Destiny, MT 64658-2367

Phone: +512425013758

Job: National Farming Director

Hobby: Reading, Polo, Genealogy, amateur radio, Scouting, Stand-up comedy, Cryptography

Introduction: My name is Van Hayes, I am a thankful, friendly, smiling, calm, powerful, fine, enthusiastic person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.