CEFR French Levels Explained

Posted by Adam on 13th Nov 2019 in the blog in the misc., tips category

What is the CEFR?

The CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) is an international system which measures the level of different language abilities. It is split into six different sub categories and was created to categorise a language learner's level in order to help with language teaching and testing.

As it is international, the CEFR qualification is recognised throughout the world making it easier for employers and educational institutions to evaluate people's language abilities. For example, being assessed a B1 level allows foreigners to work in Canada.

Unless you plan to learn a language for work or study applications, knowing which level you are is not ultimately necessary. It may however help set a learning target in order to see progress and be encouraged to carry on learning.

What are the different levels?

Levels strip png


  • A1 (beginner)
  • A2 (elementary)


  • B1 (intermediate)
  • B2 (upper-intermediate)


  • C1 (advanced)
  • C2 (proficiency)

Levels explained

A0 level (entry level)
  • AO level represents the complete beginner level.
  • It is our own entry level category covering language needed in order to start working towards CEFR A1 level.
What is considered A0 level?
  • Listening: you can understand very little except for a few words of vocabulary which you may remember from school.
  • Reading: you can understand a few bits of vocabulary but overall nothing is very clear.
  • Speaking: you can interact in the most simplistic way, using very basic words but cannot form a sentence.
How does the 'Learn French With Alexa' website help you reach A0 level?
  • Lesson 01 of the video course covers A0 level.
  • You are taught very common basic French words such as greetings, numbers, months, days, colours, family and some very basic grammatical points.
  • There is a dialogue for each lesson to help reinforce your learning and your listening skills.
A1 level (beginner)
  • A1 level is the first stage of the CEFR 'basic [language] user' category.
What is considered A1 level?
  • Listening: you can understand everyday expressions and basic sentences to help you get by in everyday situations (buying bread, at the restaurant, etc.).
  • Reading: you can recognise simple words and guess the meaning of certain predictable texts.
  • Speaking: you can use simple everyday basic expressions and interact in a simple way if the person speaks slowly and clearly. You can probably introduce yourself, answer simple questions about yourself, ask where the toilets are, order a drink, etc.
How does the 'Learn French With Alexa' website help you reach A1 level?
  • Lessons 02 to 12 cover A1 level.
  • You are taught key grammatical aspects such as understanding the use of the auxiliaries être (to be) and avoir (to have).
  • These lessons show you how to make sentences using the crucial verb aller (to go) and its associated prepositions.
  • They introduce you to the notion of regular and irregular verbs and their conjugation in the present tense.
  • They also cover how to use simple negations in a sentence.
  • From lesson 12, you will find dictation and reading exercises to help you consolidate your learning progress.
A2 level (elementary)
  • A2 level is the second stage of the CEFR 'basic [language] user' category.
  • At A2 level talking about everyday routine is easier and clearer. Sentences becomes slightly more complex. New tenses are also introduced to help speak in the near future and the past.
What is considered A2 level?
  • Listening: you can understand frequently used sentences and everyday expressions (on topics such as family information, shopping and employment, etc.). You are also able to understand simple questions.
  • Reading: you can read more easily more complex texts covering a wider range of topics. You are able to differentiate a present tense from a past tense.
  • Speaking: you can use simple everyday expressions related to everyday routine matters. You can describe your activities in the past. You can also describe a family member: age, physical characteristics, background, environment and what they did over the past weekend, etc. You can also ask simple questions.
How does the 'Learn French With Alexa' website help you reach A2 level?
  • Lessons 13 to 19 cover A2 level.
  • These lessons help you build more complex sentences by introducing grammatical elements such as adverbs (e.g. lentement), comparatives (e.g. plus confortable que), possessive adjectives (e.g. ma maison), irregular and complex adjectives, the near future (e.g. je vais acheter) and past tenses (e.g. il est allé au parc).
  • These lessons also cover in detail how to build questions using various interrogative words (qui, pourquoi, etc.).
B1 level (intermediate)
  • B1 level is the first stage of the CEFR 'independent [language] user' category.
  • If you are B1 level, this means that you are no longer a beginner. You know enough to be able to build more complex sentences in order to communicate. However, you are not fluent and not quite able to engage in a conversation with current affair topics for example.
What is considered B1 level?
  • Listening: at this level, you can understand and take part in simple conversations about everyday situations (at work, school, leisure, etc.)
  • Reading: your reading is more fluent and you can understand texts about more complex topics but not quite current affairs yet.
  • Speaking: you can travel with confidence and make yourself understood using a wide range of descriptive vocabulary, adjectives and various tenses. You can also talk about events, dreams or ambitions and give opinions on various everyday topics.
How does the 'Learn French With Alexa' website help you reach B1 level?
  • Lessons 20 to 29 cover B1 level.
  • These lessons will help you form the future tense (e.g. je travaillerai), the imperfect tense (e.g. je travaillais) and the conditional (e.g. je travaillerais).
  • They also cover more complex grammatical topics such as understanding the difference between relative pronouns (e.g. que and qui).
  • Lesson 26 for example introduces you to the notion of direct and indirect object pronouns. This part of the course is important as it helps you take a leap from a beginner level to a B1 level.
  • The supplementary dialogues and texts are more complex to help you refine your listening skills. There are many exercise videos available to help you practise your listening and reading skills.
B2 level (upper-intermediate)
  • B2 level is the second stage of the CEFR 'independent [language] user' category.
  • B2 level represents the learner who is able to communicate in a more fluid and spontaneous way using more idioms and complex sentence connectors and tenses.
What is considered B2 level?
  • Listening: you are able to understand the main ideas of more complex and abstract subjects (including more specialised fields).
  • Reading: you are able to read detailed texts from different topics and give viewpoints on current affairs.
  • Speaking: you can use a wide range of vocabulary and speak with a degree of fluency and spontaneity.
How does the 'Learn French With Alexa' website help you reach B2 level?
  • Lessons 30 to 36 cover B2 level.
  • In this part of the course, the notion of subjunctive is introduced. The concept of the subjunctive is often unclear to language learners, so understanding it at this point of the course is important as it will help you progress to C1 level (the proficiency level).
  • Tenses such as pluperfect (e.g. j'avais mangé), future perfect (e.g. j'aurai mangé), past conditional (e.g. j'aurais mangé) are also taught over these lessons.
  • Small documentaries and interviews are also introduced at this point to help you practise your fluency and listening skills.
C1 level (advanced)
  • C1 level is the first stage of the CEFR 'proficient [language] user' category.
  • At C1 the learner is able to follow a conversation fluently. However, there may still be some expressions or words that are not quite grasped yet.
What is considered C1 level?
  • Listening: you can understand a wide range of topics. You can also recognise idioms and implicit meaning.
  • Reading: you can read books and understand more complex texts.
  • Speaking: you can express yourself fluently using colloquial expressions and well-structured detailed sentences in most situations: professional, social and academic.
How does the 'Learn French With Alexa' website help you reach C1 level?
  • Lessons 37 to 38 cover C1 level.
  • You are taught how to use the passé simple, the passive and active forms and also how to use direct and indirect speech.
  • Most of all, you are encouraged to do as many exercises as possible provided in this section of the course: reading exercises, dictations, gap fill exercises.
C2 level (proficiency)
  • C2 level is the second stage of the CEFR 'proficient [language] user' category.
  • At C2 level you can understand pretty much everything and speak like a native.
What is considered C2 level?
  • Listening: you can listen to radio, TV programs and conversations with ease and understand complex idioms and nuances.
  • Reading: you can read complex texts and write using a wide range of complex tenses.
  • Speaking: you can summarise in a spontaneous and fluent way any accounts and information from diverse written texts and spoken conversations.
How does the 'Learn French With Alexa' website help you reach C2 level?
  • In lessons 39 and 40, as well as all the videos provided to enhance your fluency, you are encouraged to listen to French radio and TV, to take part in conversational groups and to practise your speaking as much as you can.

Check out some of our other blog posts!

7 strange French foods you probably haven't heard of

Posted on by Josh in the french culture category

France has some of the best food in the world — but it also has some of the strangest! How many of these have you tried?

Read more

The best quotes about Paris

Posted on by Josh in the french culture category

If you're visiting Paris for the first time, you may find yourself lost for words. Luckily for you, Paris has inspired many quotes that may help you articulate your own feelings about the city.

Read more

Have fun learning French Today

People from all over the world enjoy learning French with Alexa Polidoro’s popular French audio and video lessons.