The most common way to describe language proficiency is: The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) It is a guideline used to describe the language levels across Europe. You can also find a Dutch language proficiency table. We’ll describe both standards.
The CEFR framework describes 6 language levels. We can distinguish 3 main categories (A, B, C) and 2 sublevels:
- A Basic (A1/A2)
- B Independent (B1/B2)
- C Proficient (C1/C2)
Please use the language proficiency table below to do a self-assessment of your language level. This framework applies to all languages.
|Listening||Reading||Spoken - interaction||Spoken - production||Writing|
|A1||I can recognise familiar words and very basic phrases concerning myself, my family|
and immediate concrete surroundings when people speak slowly and clearly
|I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example on notices and posters or in catalogues.||I can interact in a simple way provided the other person is prepared to repeat or rephrase|
things at a slower rate of speech and help me formulate what I'm trying to say. I can ask and answer simple questions in areas of immediate need or on very familiar topics
|I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe where I live and people I know.||I can write a short, simple postcard, for example sending holiday greetings. I can fill in forms with personal details, for example entering my name, nationality and address on a hotel registration form.|
|A2||I can understand phrases and |
the highest frequency vocabulary related to areas of most immediate personal relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local area). I can catch the main point in short, clear, simple messages and
|I can read very short, simple texts. I can find specific, predictable information in simple everyday material such as advertisements, prospectuses, menus and timetables and I can understand short simple personal letters||I can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities. I can handle very short social exchanges, even though I can't usually understand enough to keep the conversation going myself.||I can use a series of phrases and sentences to describe in simple terms my family and other people, living conditions, my educational background and my present or most recent job.||I can write short, simple notes and messages relating to matters in areas of immediate needs. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanking
someone for something
|B1||I can understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc. I can understand the main point of many radio or TV programmes on current affairs or topics of personal or professional interest when the delivery is relatively slow and clear.||I can understand texts that consist mainly of high frequency everyday or job-related language. I can understand the description of events, feelings and wishes in personal letters.||I can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. I can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events).||I can connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, my dreams, hopes and ambitions. I can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans. I can narrate a story or relate the plot of a book or film and describe my reactions.||I can write simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest. I can write personal letters describing experiences and impressions.|
|B2||I can understand extended speech and lectures and follow even complex lines of argument provided the topic is reasonably familiar. I can understand most TV news and current affairs programmes. I can understand the majority of films in standard dialect.||I can read articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems in which the writers adopt particular attitudes or viewpoints. I can understand contemporary literary prose.||I can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible. I can take an active part in discussion in familiar contexts, accounting for and sustaining my views.||I can present clear, detailed descriptions on a wide range of subjects related to my field of interest. I can explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.||I can write clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects related to my interests. I can write an essay or report, passing on information or giving reasons in support of or against a particular point of view. I can write letters highlighting the personal significance of events and experiences.|
|C1||I can understand extended speech even when it is not clearly structured and when relationships are only implied and not signalled explicitly. I can understand television programmes and films without too much effort||I can understand long and complex factual and literary texts, appreciating distinctions of style. I can understand specialised articles and longer technical instructions, even when they do not relate to my field.||I can express myself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. I can use language flexibly and effectively for social and professional purposes. I can formulate ideas and opinions with precision and relate my contribution skilfully to those of other speakers.||I can present clear, detailed descriptions of complex subjects integrating sub-themes, developing particular points and rounding off with an appropriate conclusion||I can express myself in clear, wellstructured text, expressing points of view at some length. I can write about complex subjects in a letter, an essay or a report, underlining what I consider to be the salient issues. I can select style appropriate to the reader in mind.|
|C2||I have no difficulty in understanding any kind of spoken language, whether live or broadcast, even when delivered at fast native speed, provided I have some time to get familiar with the accent.||I can read with ease virtually all forms of the written language, including abstract, structurally or linguistically complex texts such as manuals, specialised articles and literary works.||I can take part effortlessly in any conversation or discussion and have a good familiarity with idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms. I can express myself fluently and convey finer shades of meaning precisely. If I do have a problem I can backtrack and restructure around the difficulty so smoothly that other people are hardly aware of it||I can present a clear, smoothly-flowing description or argument in a style appropriate to the context and with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points.||I can write clear, smoothly-flowing text in an appropriate style. I can write complex letters, reports or articles which present a case with an effective logical structure which helps the recipient to notice and remember significant points. I can write summaries and reviews of professional or literary works.|
Find below a less complex proficiency standard:
Breakthrough or beginner
|-Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
-Can introduce themselves and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where they live, people they know and things they have.
-Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Waystage or elementary
|-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 their background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
Threshold or intermediate
|-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 while travelling in an area where the language is spoken.
-Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
-Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.
Vantage or upper intermediate
|-Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
-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.
Effective operational proficiency or advanced
|-Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer clauses, and recognize implicit meaning.
-Can express ideas 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 organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
Mastery or proficiency
|-Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
-Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
-Can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.
Dutch proficiency table
- Level 1F: “basic user”
- Level 2F: “independent user”, VMBO, MBO-1, MBO-2 en MBO-3
- Level 3F: “independent user “, HAVO en MBO-4
- Level 4F: “skilled user”, VWO
|CEFR level||Dutch level||Educational level|