How can I estimate my proficiency level (A1-C2)?



How can I find out what my CEFRL1 proficiency level in a language is, without going to a testing center and paying to take a test? Are there any good resources (free tests, online tests, etc.) or guidelines for this?

1 Common European Framework of Reference for Languages


Posted 2016-04-05T18:26:17.203

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DIALANG is a free language diagnosis system available from Lancaster University. It reports your level of skill against the Common European Framework (CEFR) for language learning. DIALANG languages are Danish, Dutch, English, Finnish, French, German, Greek, Icelandic, Irish-gaelic, Italian, Norwegian, Portuguese, Spanish and Swedish. DIALANG has instructions and tests in all these languages. Competences tested are reading, writing, listening, grammar and vocabulary, speaking is not tested. Appendix C of the CEFR contains the descriptors for self-assessment at series of levels adopted by the DIALANG Project of the European Commission for use on the Internet.

You will probably find more free tools online for specific languages, here for French for example, that will be more appealing to young learners but none are as elaborate as Dialang which was funded by a European programme.


Posted 2016-04-05T18:26:17.203

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The approach I would take is to find coursebooks teaching the language at the various levels, look through them, and estimate my level based on that. Once you have an idea of where you might be - for instance, either B1 or B2 - check a few cours books by other publishers in that range - that should help you narrow it down.

Typically a lot of research goes into making sure that a B1 coursebook has B1 level material. Make use of that!

Also keep in mind that talking to a native speaker might not actually help. Many native speakers have no idea about the CEFRL system - and aren't teachers.

Alicja Z

Posted 2016-04-05T18:26:17.203

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Hopefully you'll be able to find some cheap course books if the goal is to save money. – brandaemon – 2016-04-18T14:55:54.900


In addition to @Laure's answer, DIALANG is also available on a website under the subdomain of Lancaster University's official site. The web application requires cookies, JavaScript, and popups to be enabled. Chrome is recommended.


Posted 2016-04-05T18:26:17.203

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One of the simplest options is to find a native speaker and start conversing. An advantage to this particular strategy is that if you have discipline-specific vocabulary you want to test, you can try to find a native speaker in that discipline to speak with.

If a native speaker isn't readily available, websites like italki offer 1-on-1 video lessons with native speakers around the world for a per-lesson fee. (That's not technically free, but it's not terribly expensive compared to traveling to a testing center.)

As to how to specifically estimate your proficiency level - ask the native speaker to quiz you on that level's description (note: I'm working off of Wikipedia's descriptions of the CEFRL levels here).

For example: the native speaker introduces him/her/zirself and asks you to do the same. You reply in kind. The native speaker asks you where you live - you reply. And so on. If the native speaker can follow you (and vice-versa), that's roughly A1 proficiency.

Now you move on to discussing your day at work. You talk with the native speaker about your coworkers, about lunch, about the meeting you had. If the native speaker can follow you (and vice-versa), that's roughly B1 proficiency.

Again, this is a very rough measure, but if you can find a native speaker, it's free.


Posted 2016-04-05T18:26:17.203

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@Laure I don't think free tools will assess one's speaking proficiency, which is an important component of CEFR. – michau – 2016-09-13T12:10:15.663

This does not provide an answer to the question. To critique or request clarification from an author, leave a comment below their post. - From Review

– Hatchet – 2016-04-07T02:31:29.693

@Hatchet - does this improve my answer? – tonysdg – 2016-04-07T02:42:12.060

@tonysdg Yes, improved. – Hatchet – 2016-04-07T02:45:17.407

@Flimzy - I've added more information to the question that hopefully helps answer that better. – tonysdg – 2016-04-07T02:46:23.283

A test is a scientific tool set up by professionals and a native speaker - unless a professional themselves - does not have the skill to evaluate a student's level. – Laure – 2016-04-07T06:57:31.467

@Laure I 100% agree - but given the free constraint, this still seems like a pretty good way of determining proficiency. As I said - it's a rough measure at best. – tonysdg – 2016-04-07T07:04:28.297

@tonysdg free tools are available. – Laure – 2016-04-07T07:13:23.753

4How does this help estimate one's proficiency level? – Flimzy – 2016-04-05T18:46:21.040

1@tonysdg, if you add in something about the CEFRL definitions for each level, and suggestions for determining where one falls in those definitions with the help of a native-speaker, this would be a very good answer (in my opinion). – Numeri – 2016-04-05T18:48:19.897


Depending on the language you are learning, there could be training sets for the official language tests.
For German, for example, the Goethe Institut offers practice sets that are roughly equal in difficulty to the actual language test.
It might take you two hours or so to finish but afterwards you should have a good idea of how your overall language proficiency (writing, listening,...) is. Only your speaking proficiency will be hard to test without a native speaker.

Jérôme Bau

Posted 2016-04-05T18:26:17.203

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2Welcome to Language Learning Jerome! – fi12 – 2016-08-19T21:20:06.983


I am using the material from the Common European Framework of Reference but the following interpretations are mine.

The early, A1, A2, and B1 levels seem to be defined by quantity of language knowledge, and the later levels, B2, C1 and C2 by quality.

A1, A2, and B1 refer to mastery of common and everyday language. An A1 knows only a few words and phrases, typically about identifying and introducing people, time and location, weather, etc. An A2 knows "many" words and phrases, and a B1 knows "most" words and phrases in everyday, common use. A B1 is more practiced in the language and has better control of grammar than an A1 or A2, but may still have some difficulty or discomfort in getting around, even though s/he is capable of it.

The paths seem to diverge at B2, where some "expertise" is expected. One kind of B2 is a "super B1," who is more fluent and spontaneous with everyday situations, with a broader knowledge of vocabulary and grammar than a B1. The other kind of B2 is developing expert skills in a narrow field such as business, science or law (usually the profession or area of interest), even while not being fluent overall.

The paths converge again at the C1 level, where one gains the other skill (either greater overall fluency or expert knowledge). A C2 is basically a "complete" and fluent speaker of the language, with maybe slight weaknesses of accent or idiom preventing them from being a fully "native" speaker.

Tom Au

Posted 2016-04-05T18:26:17.203

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