British Council learning benchmarks

What is CEFR?

CEFR stands for the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment. It's an internationally recognised framework of levels for language ability. Established in 1996, these levels have been carefully researched and developed to offer clear practical statements of what a person 'can do' in a language. All our courses have learning objectives to prepare you to meet the internationally recognised Council of Europe benchmarks. 

A1/Beginner

At this level, you can

  • understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type
  • introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, people you know and things you have
  • interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
British Council level A1
TOEIC 0 - 349

A2/Elementary

At this level, you 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)
  • communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters
  • describe in simple terms aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.
British Council level A2
IELTS Approximately 3.0
GEPT Elementary
TOEIC 350 - 549

B1/Intermediate

At this level, you can

  • understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, and so forth.
  • deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken
  • produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest
  • describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explaninations for opinions and plans.
British Council level B1, B1+
IELTS Approximately 3.5 - 4.5
GEPT Intermediate
TOEIC 550 -749
TOEFL iBT 57 -86

B2/Upper Intermediate

At this level, you can

  • understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation
  • interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party
  • 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.
British Council level B2, B2+
IELTS Approximately 5.0 - 6.0
GEPT High intermediate
TOEIC 750 - 879

C1/Advanced

At this level, you can

  • understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implict meaning
  • express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions
  • use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purpose
  • produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.
British Council level C1, C1+
IELTS Approximately 6.5 - 7.0
GEPT Advanced
TOEIC 880 - 949
TOEFL iBT 87 - 109

C2/Proficiency

At this level, you can

  • understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
  • summarise information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in coherent presentation
  • express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.
British Council level  C2
IELTS approximately 7.5
GEPT Proficiency
TOEIC 950 and above
TOEFL iBT 110-120
  • The English content shown in this table is quoted directly from the website of the Council of Europe.