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European language levels

The Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) was developed by the Council of Europe in 2001 and has since become an important element in language education. It is used worldwide to determine the language level of language learners. It distinguishes six levels ranging from basic user, to independent user, to proficient user. A new version of the European Framework of Reference was published in 2020. You can download the Companion Volume from the website of the Council of Europe.

Basic user


At language level A1, you possess the basic skills to communicate in a very simple manner. It is essential that the person you are speaking with talks slowly and clearly, and shows patience. At this introductory level, you can use familiar everyday expressions and basic phrases. For example, you can introduce yourself, ask simple questions about personal details, and respond slowly, provided the other person is willing to help. This level lays the foundation for further language education and daily interactions in simple contexts.

“Hello I am Thomas. I am from England. I have been in the Netherlands for three months and I speak a little Dutch. And you?”


At language level A2, you have a good grasp of basic language skills, allowing you to communicate in a simple manner. You can use everyday expressions and basic phrases to describe your needs, such as shopping, ordering food, or traveling. You can introduce yourself, talk about personal experiences, describe your family, and engage in simple conversations, provided the other person speaks slowly and clearly. This level gives you more confidence in daily interactions and establishes a solid foundation for further language development.

“Hello, my name is Thomas and I am from England. I have been in the Netherlands for six months now and I can already speak a little Dutch. I like the Netherlands very much. What is your name?”


Independent user


At language level B1, you have developed the ability to understand the main points of standard communication. You can clearly express yourself on familiar topics such as work, school, leisure, and travel. You can effectively participate in conversations in a social context and give your opinion or describe your plans. You are also able to discuss experiences, events, dreams, and ambitions, and briefly explain your reasons or provide explanations for opinions and plans. This level enables you to function more independently in a language-rich environment and to convey your ideas in a structured manner.
“Hello, my name is Thomas. I’m from England, but I now live in the Netherlands. I work as a graphic designer in Amsterdam. In my spare time I like to read books and I often go cycling. I speak English and Dutch. I am interested in culture and enjoy traveling to discover new places. What do you like to do in your free time?”


At language level B2, you have attained the ability to actively participate in standard communication. You can understand complex and detailed texts and express your ideas clearly and in detail. You are able to engage in fluent and spontaneous conversations with native speakers without much effort to understand each other. You can discuss a wide range of topics, from current affairs to personal interests, and you are skilled at defending your opinions with well-founded arguments. This level enables you to function effectively in an academic or professional environment and to respond flexibly in social and cultural situations.

“Good afternoon, my name is Thomas and I am currently working as a graphic designer in Amsterdam. That is also the city where I completed my studies. My daily work as a graphic designer consists of designing printed and digital products. My personal interests lie mainly in the field of culture and travel. I speak fluent English and Dutch. In my spare time I enjoy reading and cycling. I am always interested in meeting new people and exchanging ideas on various topics. What brings you here today?”


Proficient user


At language level C1, you speak the language fluently and have an extensive vocabulary and knowledge of expressions at your disposal. You can understand complex and lengthy texts and appreciate subtle nuances in meanings. In conversations, you can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without noticeably searching for words. You are capable of communicating effectively and flexibly in social, academic, and professional situations. You can also present detailed arguments in a structured manner and respond to a variety of complex topics. This level allows you to operate with ease and adaptability in a wide range of challenging communicative situations, and to understand and use deeper cultural and idiomatic expressions of the language.
“Good day, my name is Thomas. I am a senior graphic designer at a leading creative agency in Amsterdam. My work primarily involves designing print materials, digital products, and multimedia designs such as brochures, folders, posters, flyers, book covers, and websites. Additionally, I am responsible for developing logos and corporate identities. I use an approach that combines digital and traditional media, resulting in unique and striking designs. My portfolio includes a wide range of projects, from finely crafted logos to large-scale corporate branding and interactive installations. I am fluent in English and Dutch, and I also have a good command of Spanish. In my free time, I am passionate about culture and travel, and I enjoy exploring undiscovered places. I have a keen interest in exchanging ideas on various topics, such as languages, religions, and traditions. How can I assist you today?”


At language level C2, you not only speak the language fluently, but you also master technical terms and complex concepts. You have the ability to reflect deeply on information and summarize it concisely. You can recognize and understand subtle nuances in meaning, even in complex situations. This level enables you to express yourself at a level comparable to that of a native speaker. You can effortlessly participate in any conversation or discussion and present your ideas clearly and convincingly, even on abstract and intricate subjects. Your communication skills allow you to function effectively in academic, professional, or social environments, where you can subtly adjust your language use to suit the context and the needs of your conversation partners.
“Greetings, my name is Thomas and I work as a senior graphic designer at a renowned creative agency based in Amsterdam. My expertise encompasses executing complex visual communication projects and developing comprehensive brand identities, creating close synergies between client visions and innovative design practices. I employ an integrative approach that blurs the lines between digital and traditional media, resulting in distinctive and engaging visual works. My portfolio includes a wide spectrum of projects, from subtly styled logotypes to extensive corporate branding initiatives and dynamic interactive installations. My passion lies in exploring the interconnectedness between aesthetics and functionality within graphic design, a pursuit supported by a continuous engagement with the latest design trends and technological advancements. This approach enables me to deliver designs that are not only visually striking but also strategically aligned with the client’s communication objectives. I am fluent in Dutch, English, Spanish, and Russian, and have a broad range of professional publications to my name. I spend my free time on literature and travel, always seeking out uncharted locations to gain unique inspiration for my designs and projects. I enjoy in-depth discussions on a wide range of philosophical topics. I look forward to exchanging our thoughts and ideas.”
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European Day of Languages

Every year on the 26th of September, the European Day of Languages is celebrated together with the European Commision.

The Day of Languages was introduced in 2001 at the initiative of the Council of Europe.

Click here for more information and to participate in organized activities.

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