How do you know you have attained a B level?

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How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby Antea » 2016-12-30, 17:08

Just to know, I wonder when do you consider you have reached an intermediate B1-B2 level. For example, if you listen to the TV or to the radio in the language you are learning, do you have to understand almost everything you listen to, in order to consider that you have reached a B1-B2 level. Or is it more important for you to have a good enough reading comprehension? At what point do you realize that you have really reached that level? :hmm:

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby vijayjohn » 2016-12-30, 20:56

I've never been under the impression that you have to get anywhere near that point just to get to a B1 level (two stars). :hmm: To get to B2 (three stars), maybe. For B1, honestly, if you can confidently write a short essay or writing sample of some sort, or maybe even just play TPAM in a given languages a few times without having to look up too many words, surely something like that should be enough.

Honestly, my understanding of these levels completely comes from these tests (courtesy of Cesare M.). I've tried most but not all of them (I never tried Turkish, for example, I guess because I never got around to it or something).

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby Antea » 2017-01-02, 19:09

Well, yes, I know that it would be better to aim directly for a C level. But honestly, to reach a C level you need some years. A B level, I think it's not so bad, and it means that you can have conversations and a thorough understanding. For me, that means also some years ( at least 3 :hmm: ). In some languages to get to B level is really something.

It's for that reason, that I wanted to be sure that I have already passed A2 level, and reached a "real" B or B2 level. But sometimes it's difficult to make a self appreciation :hmm: It was just to know what were your "standards" to know to you had reached that level.

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-05, 22:14

From what I understand the CEFR standard is meant for self-evaulation. It specifies at each level roughly what a person should be able to do and understand in the language. You can read the about the levels here on Wikipedia.
My TAC for 2017.

N:(en) | B2:(fr) | A2:(es)(pt) | A1:(ja)(ko)(sv)(ta) | A0:(de)(fy)(hi)(hu)(it)(pl)(ro)(tr)

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby mikemike18 » 2017-01-06, 6:22

The good thing about the CEFR levels is that they are all pretty distinct and over time, it becomes easier to measure where you fall on the scale.

As far as reaching B levels, you first need to understand what A and C levels are.

This is how I interpret it:

A1 is completely basic. You know how to greet others, introduce yourself, maybe some colors and simple nouns... possibly the present tense conjugation of simple verbs like "to be" and "to have." People will have to constantly repeat themselves and even then it might be difficult to understand what in the world someone is saying. Basically, you know only very basic knowledge and can't hold a conversation of any deep meaning.

A2 is a little more advanced. You might know a couple of verb tenses like the future and past. You can talk about most subjects on a basic level that you'd read in a basic language workbook you'd find at the bookstore (School, weather, work, etc.). Your vocabulary is at least a couple hundred words. Basically, you can have a little bit of depth to the conversation but you're still a beginner. You can't talk about most complex subjects. Basically, you're still in the beginning stages but you can actually hold somewhat of a conversation that has more depth than "where do you live?" and "I like blue."

When you reach B1, you have essentially internalized all of the basics and you can start seriously building on developing more complex conversations in the language. You can express your opinions, desires, etc. more thoroughly. You know most of the verb tenses and a great amount of grammar. A lot of times if you thoroughly study a language but do not have a lot of opportunities to practice, it's easy to plateau on this level. You're not exactly close to understanding EVERYTHING, but you can usually get the main gist of conversations and "survive" in an environment where only the target language is spoken. You can usually figure out a way to say "most" things you want to say, even if it takes a while to remember the vocabulary and you play around with the grammar a bit. You can write a pretty good paragraph on pretty much any major topic, but you won't be using complex vocabulary or 100% perfect grammar. In summary, you can express yourself in most situations but it still might require a bit of effort to do so.

B2 is a very distinct level and it is extremely easy for one to get stuck here. I would call this the beginnings of being so-called "fluent." You can work well in an environment where only the target language is spoken without strain for either party. You can write an essay on most subjects and craft your thoughts very well. Once in a while you will have an issue understanding the other party, but they can easily explain the concept to you in the target language. As this level, you can use materials published only in the target language to learn more of the target language.

I have personally found it very difficult to reach C1 from B2. Most people are at B2 for a very long time before reaching C1 and it's extremely frustrating. In addition, lack of practice can easily set a C1 speaker back to B2. By C1, you have internalized all of the grammatical intricacies of the language (You know all conjugations, all preposition rules, you better have perfected declensions if your language has them) and slip-ups tend to be rare and minor. You can speak usually at the rate of a native speaker, watch shows and movies without subtitles and understand essentially everything (but being able to pick out the odd word you don't know). You don't have any issues whatsoever engaging in dialogue with native speakers and at this point, you're really only developing your vocabulary and learning more rare expressions and idioms. You can read books but you'll still find some complex vocabulary you don't know. You're very confident in the language and aren't constantly looking to see if you made any errors.

C2, you're essentially at the level of a native speaker and may know many things about the language that they even they do not know.

Side note, these levels are in separate categories for skills such as writing, reading, speaking, and listening comprehension. You may have the reading comprehension of a B1 in Spanish but the speaking of an A2. However, there usually isn't too much variation between the skills.

It also takes different amounts of time to reach these levels depending on the complexity of the language, how similar it is to languages you already speak, how many languages you already had studied prior, and whether you're in an environment in which you need to use the language on a daily basis. Also, it's easier to pass through these levels if you are focusing your undivided attention on a specific language.

To give you an idea, I started 2016 as an A1 in Portuguese. I went to Brazil for 2 weeks in May for vacation and reached A2. I practiced Portuguese for a month with a Brazilian friend and moved to Brazil in July. After 2 weeks back in Brazil, I had reached B1. After about a month or two in Brazil ONLY speaking Portuguese, I reached B2. After 6 months living in Brazil, I essentially reached C1.

This is after the fact I had spent 6 years in school studying Spanish and had reached a C1 level in Italian (which are both similar to Portuguese). During this time, I also focused my attention SOLELY on Portuguese. I would not have progressed anywhere near this speed if I was studying a language such as Turkish, Japanese, or Hebrew.

If you are very focused on a specific language and are highly motivated, it really shouldn't take any longer than a year to reach a B1, regardless of the language. Heck, I've been studying Arabic in college for almost 2 years and I'm still A2 because I never put some strict dedication into it. However, if you're juggling a ton of languages and/or not very focused, it might even take a few years to even reach this level.

I really hope this helped!
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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-06, 6:35

mikemike18 wrote:The good thing about the CEFR levels is that they are all pretty distinct and over time, it becomes easier to measure where you fall on the scale.
...

Thanks Michael for that breakdown. The interesting thing for me in Spanish and Portuguese is that I have the vocabulary of probably a B1 level, but certain parts of my grammar suck. The biggest part is that I'm only really good with the present tense. I have not yet sat down and properly learnt/memorized the 2 different past tenses, nor the future, etc. Yet I know words and can form sentences that would fall under a B1 level. I don't know if others who do a lot of self-study find this. So because of this I'm never sure what level to put myself at. And this lack of grammar knowledge affects all 4 categories - reading, writing, speaking, and listening.
My TAC for 2017.

N:(en) | B2:(fr) | A2:(es)(pt) | A1:(ja)(ko)(sv)(ta) | A0:(de)(fy)(hi)(hu)(it)(pl)(ro)(tr)

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby Antea » 2017-01-06, 10:06

Thank you for your answer. For me it's difficult to find out the level, because although maybe my reading comprehension and listening understanding of a language I think may be B1, then my speaking is not in the same the level. So globally it's difficult to say were I am, and where would a native speaker put me when he listens to me :hmm:

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-06, 10:27

Antea wrote:Thank you for your answer. For me it's difficult to find out the my level, because although maybe my reading comprehension and listening understanding of a language I think may be B1, then my speaking rears ("rears" doesn't make any sense here; did you mean "lowers"?) the level. So globally it's difficult to say where I am, and where would a native speaker would put me when he listens to me :hmm:

A few notes on my corrections before I respond:
  1. It sounds more natural to say "my level" rather than "the level" in a case like this. It sounds a bit strange and impersonal and too formal to use "the" instead of "my".
  2. "To rear" means "to rise up". For example, we would say something like "jealousy rears its ugly head". So I'm not sure what you were trying to say about speaking, but rears would be the wrong word to use.
  3. I've noticed a few times that when you use an emoticon at the end of your last sentence, you don't include punctuation. It looks strange to me. I would recommend you either put the punctuation mark before the emoji, or after it.

Now for my response: I think that it's perfectly fine to use different levels, one for each area of speaking, listening, reading, and writing. I've seen others do that before. That way you could more accurately show that your reading and listening are B1 but your speaking is maybe A2.
My TAC for 2017.

N:(en) | B2:(fr) | A2:(es)(pt) | A1:(ja)(ko)(sv)(ta) | A0:(de)(fy)(hi)(hu)(it)(pl)(ro)(tr)

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby voron » 2017-01-06, 10:42

mikemike18 wrote:I really hope this helped!

You broke it down very nicely Mike. And wow, you reached C1 in a year, that's remarkable, whether the language is close or not.

As for the Arabic, are you studying the MSA only, or a dialect too? With my years of dabbling in Arabic, I am getting an impression that the only correct way is to study both of them simultaneously. If you study the MSA only, you sooner or later get bored because of its artificiality and the lack of 'real life' materials, and disappointed because you can't naturally talk to natives. I recently started Syrian or more generally Levantine Arabic and it feels like a fresh breath that I can finally use facebooks posts and songs as my learning media.

dEhiN wrote:From what I understand the CEFR standard is meant for self-evaulation.

No, I think it's not what CEFR is about. The rationale behind CEFR is to introduce a common scale so that a language certificate that you get from one certifying institution in one country is valid for the acceptance to a university or a job in another country.

If you are a self-learner, why do you need to assess yourself in some standard scale anyway? I am personally satisfied with the "happy with my progress/unhappy with my progress" scale. Observing your own progress should also be quite transparent: your skill evolves from "a month ago I couldn't understand a news article at all" to "now I understand the gist of it" to "now I understand all the details". Same with speaking/listening/writing.

(The only time when I have to assess my level is when I put starts in my language profile on Unilang. :))

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby mikemike18 » 2017-01-06, 14:38

dEhiN wrote:
mikemike18 wrote:The good thing about the CEFR levels is that they are all pretty distinct and over time, it becomes easier to measure where you fall on the scale.
...

Thanks Michael for that breakdown. The interesting thing for me in Spanish and Portuguese is that I have the vocabulary of probably a B1 level, but certain parts of my grammar suck. The biggest part is that I'm only really good with the present tense. I have not yet sat down and properly learnt/memorized the 2 different past tenses, nor the future, etc. Yet I know words and can form sentences that would fall under a B1 level. I don't know if others who do a lot of self-study find this. So because of this I'm never sure what level to put myself at. And this lack of grammar knowledge affects all 4 categories - reading, writing, speaking, and listening.


In that case, I would do what you did in your signature and leave it at A2/B1 for now. For B1, a lot of it really goes back to if you're able to express yourself (doesn't have to be amazingly) in most situations. I would say the imperfect and simple past are the most important tenses aside from the present and you need them both to comfortable express yourself in most situations. It would be hard to say you're B1 unless you're a little bit comfortable with these. If you're already comfortable with the present, you should be in a great position to go over the rules and start using these. Just go over the rules for a little bit, conjugate some verbs on your own, and as you read/watch/speak, it'll grow more natural. This goes for Spanish and Portuguese.. however, maybe do it with one language at a time because the past tenses of both of these languages are so similar you might confuse them if you learn them all at once.

Thankfully, the future isn't hard at all to express in either language. You'll find people using the shortcut way ("ir" in portuguese, and "ir a" in Spanish) a lot more than the actual future tense itself. Although some situations DO require the actual tense, it's less common.

Antea wrote:Thank you for your answer. For me it's difficult to find out the level, because although maybe my reading comprehension and listening understanding of a language I think may be B1, then my speaking is not in the same the level. So globally it's difficult to say were I am, and where would a native speaker put me when he listens to me :hmm:


I would go with what dEhin said and just separate them (or perhaps average them out). For me personally, it's difficult to say I am fully a B1 unless I can actually have a B1 level conversation. If you're speaking at a B1 level but your listening comprehension is at A2 still (happens to me a lot), then it's great that you can get your idea across but it's very common not to have any idea what the person is replying back to you. At that point, it'd be difficult for me to say I'm B1. Same for the reverse is true. If I can understand a language at B1 level but I speak it at A2, I am still not able to express myself well enough to be comfortable in a B1 conversation. This is just my personal interpretation so don't take it as the Bible :P
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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby vijayjohn » 2017-01-06, 14:45

voron wrote:If you are a self-learner, why do you need to assess yourself in some standard scale anyway? I am personally satisfied with the "happy with my progress/unhappy with my progress" scale. Observing your own progress should also be quite transparent: your skill evolves from "a month ago I couldn't understand a news article at all" to "now I understand the gist of it" to "now I understand all the details". Same with speaking/listening/writing.

(The only time when I have to assess my level is when I put starts in my language profile on Unilang. :))

Totally agree! I didn't give two shits what my proficiency rating was until I got to UniLang, and even then, for a long time, I just didn't say anything in my profile at all except that I was a native speaker of English who was interested in learning Malayalam. I'm sure you know by now how misleading that was! :lol: But then for that matter, I'm sure you could argue in a number of ways that my current profile is misleading, too. The reason why I didn't say anything more was because I really just had no idea how to evaluate my proficiency at all. I definitely prefer to treat language-learning as something to do for fun, although getting to one level or another is an interesting challenge as well.

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby mikemike18 » 2017-01-06, 15:05

voron wrote:
mikemike18 wrote:I really hope this helped!

You broke it down very nicely Mike. And wow, you reached C1 in a year, that's remarkable, whether the language is close or not.

As for the Arabic, are you studying the MSA only, or a dialect too? With my years of dabbling in Arabic, I am getting an impression that the only correct way is to study both of them simultaneously. If you study the MSA only, you sooner or later get bored because of its artificiality and the lack of 'real life' materials, and disappointed because you can't naturally talk to natives. I recently started Syrian or more generally Levantine Arabic and it feels like a fresh breath that I can finally use facebooks posts and songs as my learning media.

dEhiN wrote:From what I understand the CEFR standard is meant for self-evaulation.

No, I think it's not what CEFR is about. The rationale behind CEFR is to introduce a common scale so that a language certificate that you get from one certifying institution in one country is valid for the acceptance to a university or a job in another country.

If you are a self-learner, why do you need to assess yourself in some standard scale anyway? I am personally satisfied with the "happy with my progress/unhappy with my progress" scale. Observing your own progress should also be quite transparent: your skill evolves from "a month ago I couldn't understand a news article at all" to "now I understand the gist of it" to "now I understand all the details". Same with speaking/listening/writing.

(The only time when I have to assess my level is when I put starts in my language profile on Unilang. :))


Thank you Voron! I was just as surprised when I left Brazil the other week. Although you can learn languages solely at home, I learned that living in the country really makes you go through the stages and gain confidence much quicker.

I have only been studying MSA :para: You're probably right. I am just worried that if I learn a dialect, I'll start to confuse it with MSA, but you're probably right about this. In addition, there are so many more resources for the direct learning of MSA, even though there are less ways to practice it (weird much?). I have a lot of Middle Eastern friends but it's generally difficult for me to understand them when they speak (other than understanding a few words here and there) since they always speak in their different dialects. On the other hand, if I try speaking, most of them just go back into English because I'm "being too formal." It's a little irritating to say the least haha.

I also agree that you don't need CEFR for self-learning. If you're applying to a work position and plan on using a language on your CV, then of course it's important. It really depends on who you are and your situation I guess.
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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby dEhiN » 2017-01-06, 18:36

mikemike18 wrote:In that case, I would do what you did in your signature and leave it at A2/B1 for now. For B1, a lot of it really goes back to if you're able to express yourself (doesn't have to be amazingly) in most situations. I would say the imperfect and simple past are the most important tenses aside from the present and you need them both to comfortable express yourself in most situations. It would be hard to say you're B1 unless you're a little bit comfortable with these. If you're already comfortable with the present, you should be in a great position to go over the rules and start using these. Just go over the rules for a little bit, conjugate some verbs on your own, and as you read/watch/speak, it'll grow more natural. This goes for Spanish and Portuguese.. however, maybe do it with one language at a time because the past tenses of both of these languages are so similar you might confuse them if you learn them all at once.

[flag=]pt-br[/flag] Obrigado Michael pelas sugestões.
[flag=]fr[/flag] Merci Michael pour les avises.
[flag=]en-ca[/flag] Thanks Michael for the suggestions.

mikemike18 wrote:Thankfully, the future isn't hard at all to express in either language. You'll find people using the shortcut way ("ir" in portuguese, and "ir a" in Spanish) a lot more than the actual future tense itself. Although some situations DO require the actual tense, it's less common.

[flag=]pt-br[/flag] Sim e especificamente no meu caso eu sei o futuro em francês, então as formas em português e em espanhol não são difíceis.
[flag=]fr[/flag] Oui et dans mon cas spécifiquement je sais le futur en français, donc les conjugations pour le portugais et l'espangol ne sont pas difficiles.
[flag=]en-ca[/flag] Yes and in my case specifically I know the future tense in French, so the Portuguese and Spanish forms aren't difficult.
My TAC for 2017.

N:(en) | B2:(fr) | A2:(es)(pt) | A1:(ja)(ko)(sv)(ta) | A0:(de)(fy)(hi)(hu)(it)(pl)(ro)(tr)

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby Cesare M. » 2017-01-10, 17:07

vijayjohn wrote:Honestly, my understanding of these levels completely comes from these tests.


While I appreciate the positive mention, at the time I didn't want it to sound like I was making any grave recommendations. From what I can recall without looking at earlier posts, that link, as well as another one were the best links I could find in terms of finding your true level in a language (without ofc bothering native speakers about it).

In my experience, I would always achieve what many people might consider a B2 level (and I don't ever make any claims of having an official A/B/C level in a language as that'd be like me claiming pure fluency in languages; huge mistakes I don't ever want to make again) by spending at least a couple of years reading, writing, listening, and memorizing to the point of being able to comprehend most texts I come across as well as knowing enough useful vocabulary as well as getting a good hold of the grammar. So nothing special really.

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby Dr. House » 2017-01-26, 10:48

I'm c1-C2 in English, but I don't know what consolidated C2's honna be like? Will I understand the language on every occasion? I mean I can watch a movie or a TV shpw without subtitles, but I have hard time understanding some music ( those metal song which go something like urghrgag irghr victory!!!) or a police walkie talkie radio transmission etc.

I've been C1 for a couple of years and only here and then do I learn a new term or phrase, but I'm still lacking thousands of words (not those obscure ones such as uxoricide) and overall my speech could be much more fluid if I was living in an English-speaking country.

My other languages are a2-b1. I need more vocab in Spanish and Russian and my German grammar sucks. In einer perfekten or In eine perfekter, einer perfekte etc.

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby Leopejo » 2017-01-26, 12:39

dEhiN wrote:From what I understand the CEFR standard is meant for self-evaulation. It specifies at each level roughly what a person should be able to do and understand in the language. You can read the about the levels here on Wikipedia.

I agree with voron instead.

By the way, you can try an official language certificate exam for some countries. Here is Poland for example: http://www.certyfikatpolski.pl/pl/informacje-dla-zdajacych/jak-sie-przygotowac-do-egzaminu/przykladowe-testy (B1, B2, C1). You get an example test with answer keys and passing criteria. Of course there's no answer key for written and oral production, but you can assess with good confidence whether you'd pass the whole exam or not.

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby księżycowy » 2017-01-26, 13:19

Great link. Thanks Leopejo! I'll have to bookmark that for later.

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby Leopejo » 2017-01-26, 17:22

księżycowy wrote:Great link. Thanks Leopejo! I'll have to bookmark that for later.

Nie ma za co!
They changed the exams a few months ago. Earlier only B1, B2 and C2 existed - and many pages on the website above still refer to these levels. Now it's B1, B2 and C1 instead. They also updated the questions, but the general structure seems similar to the earlier exams.

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Re: How do you know you have attained a B level?

Postby reineke » 2017-02-10, 17:29

Try testing your skills on the Dialang language diagnostic software/website. It's free and pretty thorough.


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