The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

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zKing
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The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby zKing » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:14 pm

I took an interest in the CEFR levels lately and, like many, I found the official descriptions to be a bit vague, so I've done some searching to see what others had to say about the descriptions, samples of vocab at different levels, and I think I've formed a much better description of the levels:

A1: Beginner
  • Can ask the purchase price of 37 different fruits. Can't understand the response.
  • Can introduce self with the same register and word choice of a 1930's diplomat. Can't understand the response.
  • Can say "Giraffes live on the plains of Africa"
  • Believes true fluency will be attained after another 6 months of study
A2: Waystage
  • Has 23 websites on language learning bookmarked
  • Has 27,563 unseen cards in Anki
  • When greeted by native speaker can turn multiple shades of red and stand motionless with mouth open for several minutes
  • Can start a Polyglot YouTube channel and teach others how to learn languages.
  • Believes true fluency will be attained after another 6 months of study
B1: Threshold
  • Can have conversations with native speakers provided they speak completely in learner's native language.
  • Can produce the first two words of most sentences before stopping cold and searching for a word for 2 minutes.
  • Can watch TV in the TL and tell people they got the 'gist', such as "there were three people talking, one seemed angry about something".
  • Can claim C1 on resume.
  • Believes true fluency will be attained after another 6 months of study
B2: Vantage
  • Can have conversations with native speakers provided they don't say anything interesting.
  • Can no longer be considered by natives as the 'cute' foreigner who is trying hard to learn the TL, but as the annoying guy who asks the cashier to repeat everything four times.
  • Can understand that most TV programming is crap in the TL too.
  • Believes true fluency will be attained after another 6 months of study
C1: Operational Proficiency
  • Can survive in a TL working environment and smile and nod foolishly whenever anyone says anything colloquial, slangy or related to pop culture.
  • Can understand and be exposed to the full brunt of any cultural or racial discrimination in the TL.
  • Believes true fluency will be attained after another 6 months of study
C2: Mastery
  • Can have a long effortless, complex conversation and be told that they really suck at speaking the language because they have an accent.
  • Can give a detailed account of the long, often difficult, multi-year journey to reach C2, explain the things tried, what worked and didn't work and have an A2 say their opinion on language learning methodology doesn't matter because their success is clearly only due to their natural gift for languages.
  • Had the opportunity to say "Giraffes live on the plains of Africa", but in the excitement of the moment forgot the verb for "to live".
  • Believes true fluency will be attained after another 6 months of study

Edit: fixed some nits.
Edit: added based on community input
Last edited by zKing on Mon Jan 04, 2021 7:22 am, edited 9 times in total.
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Adrianslont
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby Adrianslont » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:20 pm

You have a future in language learning-related comedy. It’s a small niche but your material is awesome - that kind of painful comedy that makes you squirm.
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby tarvos » Mon Jul 30, 2018 9:22 pm

Seems about right, except for the fact my C1 language number would disproportionately exceed the number I usually give X)
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby Teango » Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:40 am

I particularly like how you came full circle on the subject of giraffes. :)
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby Dylan95 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 5:29 am

This reminds me of the good ole days when I first became interested in language learning. I asked for the first disc of a Rosetta Stone course for my thirteenth birthday. I thought that completing it was all I needed to become "fluent" in French :lol:
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby Jaleel10 » Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:04 am

Can understand that most TV programming is crap in the TL too.


Yep, 90% of Spaniards tell me that most of their TV is crap. They are often baffled at my love for Spanish media :lol:

A1: Beginner

Believes true fluency will be attained after another 6 months of study


I feel attacked :x
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby garyb » Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:55 am

Let's just close down the forum now because this topic will never be topped!

Most TV is crap, certainly in all the languages I study. There are a few high-quality prime-time series, often from premium channels, that we focus on here, but they aren't representative of the vast majority of programming and if you actually switch on a TV in the country and channel-hop for a little while you'll understand this quite quickly.

EDIT: That said though, I do find that native speakers usually discount even the good stuff and see English-language series as the holy grail. Sometimes they've never even heard of the stuff I'm watching.
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby Cavesa » Tue Jul 31, 2018 12:02 pm

This is awesome, thanks for the thread and the ideas!

May I add a few?

A1: -people complain the coursebook is teaching them stuff they won't ever need.
-the level most publishers aim their marketing weapons at.

A2: -people are surprised they can't understand the real native media yet,
as everyone else on the reddit suggests to just practice now that they've learnt all the theory.
-The level some publishers already hide behind the word "advanced" in their advertisements.

B1: -people complain a lot about the intermediate plateau.
-Many finally realise they actually need to learn the A1 stuff they thought they would never need again and this time properly.

B2: -people encounter the REAL intermediate plateau.
-It is common to finally have fun in the language, it is just frustrating every bit of progress seems to take approximately 1.5 eternity
-Language stuff publishers don't believe anyone gets so far.

C1 -people realise the many gaps they have but are often confused about filling them.
-the imposter syndrome is very common somewhere around here.
-most language schools don't believe anyone gets so far.

C2 -your level and eventual certificate draw attention but you know damn well how much is still there to learn
-most teachers and even some testing centers officially offering the C2 exams don't believe anyone could actually get so far.
-You keep hearing nonsense about language learning, and when you give a different answer based on your experience (which the other side usually doesn't have), you are being told your opinion is invalid, as "you are just gifted for languages" :-D

EDIT: one typo and I tried to fix the formatting that had originally looked just fine in the reply window and got messed up after submiting.
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby zKing » Tue Jul 31, 2018 7:42 pm

Wow! Thank you all for the love, I'm glad folks found it entertaining! Most of these came to me as I was reading the official descriptions and having the smart-ass part of my brain yell out "what you really mean is..." And when I finally decided to sit down and write it out, I also took a shot at poking fun at the absurdity and white lies of the language learning industry, sprinkled with that ever present frustration we all face marching up the language learning hill. It kind of wrote itself in like an hour.
And I was chuckling to myself about it for a long while after that.
Yes, I'm one of those guys who laughs at his own jokes. :D
Adrianslont wrote:You have a future in language learning-related comedy. It’s a small niche but your material is awesome - that kind of painful comedy that makes you squirm.

Sadly I think I used almost all of my material in that one post. It's like that once-in-a-lifetime debut album that has the best songs of a band's decade long struggle to make it. I think my follow up material would be the sophomore slump album that was written in a rush on the tour bus and mangled by too much record company executive input. :D
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sophomore_slump
Cavesa wrote:May I add a few?

Haha, awesome stuff! Yes, please! Others should feel free to throw out their one-liners. I _know_ there must be a ton more I wouldn't think of!
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Re: The REAL meaning of the CEFR Levels

Postby kanewai » Tue Jul 31, 2018 9:51 pm

Cavesa wrote: A2: -people are surprised they can't understand the real native media yet, as everyone else on the reddit suggests ...

But no one on reddit ever admits to being anything less than B-1!
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