The French Learning Institute levels and the CEFR

What is the CEFR?

Knowing what level you are at is key to making good progress when learning the French language. While the terms ‘Beginner’, ‘Intermediate’ or ‘Fluent’ are commonly used when talking about proficiency, they are often not specific enough to accurately determine the level at which the learners are. 

At The French Learning Institute, we use the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) – a classification with precise criteria and internationally recognised standards that allows us to accurately determine the fluency of learners. In addition to setting well-defined objectives to be achieved, this facilitates understanding and comparison between institutions and organisations. The CEFR is divided into 6 levels – starting at A1 for a complete beginner, all the way up to C2 (perfect mastery of the language).


At The French Learning Institute, we first assess your level to ensure you begin at the French classes best suited to your proficiency. From there, we will give you a clear perspective of the next steps to take, and the work needed to get there, through an accurate and detailed curriculum.

A1 – Beginner

  • Introducing oneself and asking or answering simple questions.
  • Understanding and making use of common expressions and rudimentary sentences.
  • Communicating in a simple manner with people speaking slowly and clearly.

A2 Elementary

  • Dealing with frequently used expressions related to everyday life situations.
  • Talking about their background and direct environment.
  • Interacting in familiar routine tasks.

B1 Intermediate

  • Comprehending the main points of clear standard information on topics that are frequently met.
  • Coping with the majority of situations that may occur while travelling in a francophone country.
  • Explaining events and experiences, as well as opinions, wishes and ambitions, and giving reasons in a concise manner.

B2 Upper-intermediate

  • Discerning the major points of a difficult document on both tangible and abstract themes, including technical conversations in their field of expertise.
  • Interacting with a level of fluency and spontaneity that allows for regular interactions with native speakers without putting either party under stress. 
  • Producing clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explaining a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

C1 Advanced

  • Understanding and recognizing implicit meaning in a wide range of demanding, longer clauses.
  • Having the ability to express ideas fluently and spontaneously without obvious searching for expressions.  
  • Having the ability to use language in a flexible and effective manner for social, academic, and professional purposes.
  • Writing clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, using organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices in a controlled manner.

C2 Proficiency

  • Understanding information from numerous oral and written sources, reconstructing arguments, and narratives in a cohesive presentation. 
  • Expressing oneself spontaneously, eloquently, and accurately, distinguishing finer shades of meaning even in the most complicated situations.