Based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF):
No prior knowledge
Can only understand, read and speak individual words
Entry level – intermittent communication
Can understand and respond to very simple instructions and questions on everyday topics in isolated phrases. Can understand very simple texts on familiar everyday topics, given enough time and/or help through illustrations. Can pass on very basic information about themselves or familiar situations in simple, disjointed statements.
Advanced entry level – rudimentary communication
Limited vocabulary – fluent language use not possible
Can give simple descriptions of familiar topics and what he/she likes or dislikes in the form of a list. May revert to use of his/her native language. Can understand and identify main points in short, simple texts on familiar topics provided that they use simple vocabulary. Can describe everyday situations with simple statements joined with simple words to form a list.
Basic vocabulary – simple phrases
Communication with fixed phrases – limited range of topics
Can describe many topics within his/her field of interest. Can adapt to some complex situations. Can read straightforward correspondence and documents with some words relating to his/her field of interest following important threads of argumentation and identifying main conclusions. Can write straightforward documents on a variety of matters in his/her field of interest by linking existing elements into a linear sequence.
Simple production – limited fluency, grammar errors
Independent production – with a few misunderstandings
Can give basic presentations with reasonable fluency within his/her field of work and react to most questions from the audience. Can read most documents easily and understand specialized sources outside his/her field provide he/she can use a dictionary. Low frequency idioms may still cause difficulties. Frequent use of circumlocution. Can produce well-structured, detailed texts based on material drawn from various sources.
Functional production – control in most situations
Differentiated production – wide range of vocabulary
Can express him/herself fluently in almost every situation and present a wide range of topics with relevant supporting detail. Vocabulary is extensive and allows finer shades of meaning. Understands fine points like emotional, allusive and diplomatic usage although non-standard or foreign pronunciation may present problems. Can understand long and complex documents including implications. Can write clear, well-structured documents, citing examples and supporting arguments from other sources and drawing appropriate conclusions.
Specialized production – complex structures
Near perfect production – high degree of accuracy
Can negotiate complicated issues in a fluent and persuasive manner with virtually any partner. Is familiar with colloquial expressions and connotations. Recognizes implications and hidden meanings. Can understand non-standard accents and cultures after a period of adjustment. Can interpret virtually all documents and understand subtle distinctions of style and implicit meaning. Can write complex texts clearly and in an interesting way, structuring them so that the reader can easily follow the flow and identify key points.
Full business versatility – perfect usage and rhetoric
CEFR – Common European Framework of Reference for Languages A1 – A2 = Breakthrough / Waystage B1 – B2 = Threshold / Vantage C1 – C2 = Proficiency / Mastery