There are many many ways of learning languages: taking online or offline classes, doing an immersion, or learning by yourself with all the available resources out there. Spanish is no different, as you can have a million ways of learning it, plus, it’s hugely beneficial for personal and professional purposes. If you are one of the millions of people in the world that are learning Spanish, congratulations! You are diving into a remarkable learning experience! However, if you are self-taught, or even if you have a Spanish teacher, have you ever wondered to yourself “how to know my Spanish level?” Or what’s the difference between all of them? What are the level indicators? Look no further! Here we’ll solve all those doubts.
From A1 to C2
According to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), Spanish has six levels (each with its own sublevels) with A.1 being the basic beginner one, and C2 is the most advanced “expert” one. As with any other language, passing from one level to the other depends on your ability to meet the level indicators. Also, remember that the higher you are, the more difficult it’s to jump to the next one, simply because indicators are more difficult to meet according to all the topics you cover. But don’t worry, it’s not as difficult as it seems!
Here are the summarized indicators for each level as we use them at Whee. These are the things you’ll learn on each level and the things you’ll know once you have finished it. For example, if you are able to meet all the indicators of level A1.1, then you can pass to A1.2 and so on; or if you realize that you are capable of doing everything the A1.1 level indicators say, then you are probably an A1.2 and so on with each level.
Basic/beginner levels (aka survival)
- You are capable of introducing yourself by giving basic personal information such as name, nationality, age, profession, passport number, telephone number, etc., in a real context situation. And you can also communicate the basic personal information of others.
- You can ask for basic needs such as directions, emergency help, and vocabulary, in a real context situation that requires this type of communication.
- You are able to distinguish the basic vocal and consonant sounds of Spanish, and the combination of basic sounds such as qu,gu, ll/y, r/rr, etc.
- You describe the basic aspects of people, places, and objects with their correct nouns and gender.
- You know the basic uses of fundamental verbs such as ser and estar (to be), tener (to have), ir (to go), among others, and you can use them in different contexts (house, shop, city, work, etc…) in a simple way.
- You can distinguish the basic syntactic structure of sentences.
- You know the basic numbers and are able to understand simple money terms in your country’s (or someone else’s) currency to obtain basic goods such as food, transportation, and accommodation.
- You understand and talk about travel itineraries and places in terms of accommodation, transport, food, etc., and you are able to compare and negotiate different offers with someone (if it’s the case).
- You can locate, talk, relate, and compare objects and places in a city, and you can give clear directions to reach them (either in a form of a presentation or directly to someone else).
- You are able to talk about your own habits as well as someone else’s and express recommendations to change or improve them.
- You can describe common simple actions and objects using the proper present indicative with the regular and irregular forms of verbs.
- You express your likes and preferences and ask about someone else’s while using all the interrogative pronouns in Spanish.
- You are capable of distinguishing a habit from an action in the process.
In a nutshell: When you finish A1 levels, you are able to understand basic phrases, introduce yourself and others, ask questions about personal details such as where do you live, what do you do, etc., express and talk simply about feelings, emotions, likes and preferences, and interact in a simple way with other native or non-native speakers as long as they speak slowly and clearly.
Elementary/ intermediate levels(aka survival pt.2)
- You can tell short stories in the past and properly distinguish between specific facts and their details. Keep in mind that in the case of Latinoamérica, you use the simple preterite (yo comí) and in Spain, you use the perfect preterite (yo he comido).
- You distinguish the communicative difference between the past simple and the imperfect and conjugate them correctly in their regular and irregular forms.
- You are able to properly describe your own impressions and those of others about what happened in the past, and justify the actions if necessary.
- You are capable of recognizing and expressing greetings, farewells, and forms of formal and informal treatment in different real context situations in a specific place, while also comparing them to your own culture.
- You can properly talk about the projection of your own future plans and those of others by using the simple future.
- You describe the course and impact of your own actions and those of others in the past by correctly using the past preterite in its regular and irregular forms.
- You properly use the discursive resources to tell a good story in the past: sequential, contrast, and oral support of connectors (entonces, pues, de hecho), together with por (route and course) and para(goal and destination) prepositions. Check about por vs. para here.
- You are able to enrich your oral and written speech with the topics of the prior indicators, including direct and indirect object pronouns and adverbs of manner and place.
- You are capable of recognizing that there might be some difficulties or misunderstandings with members of other cultures even if you don’t know how to behave in such situations, and so, you can properly ask how to do it.
In a nutshell: When you finish A2 levels, you are able to understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to various topics, describe past events and people and places in the past, describe yourself in the past, describe objects in terms of color shape, etc., understand the simple future, and talk about basic notions of cultural aspects.
Intermediate-high levels(aka conversational)
- You distinguish previous events from those that have already passed by properly using the pluperfect preterite and the preterite already learned.
- You know how to give orders and recommendations by using the positive and negative forms of the imperative, along with the correct distinction of the direct and indirect object nouns in Spanish.
- You are able to express your thoughts by properly using the correct verb modes in all indicative tenses (opinions facing facts) and the present subjunctive (opinions avoiding the facts) in their regular and irregular forms.
- You think and express possibilities by using the present subjunctive in its regular and irregular forms.
- You are capable of spontaneously expressing yourself in a conversation by alternating all the different tenses learned so far.
- You recognize and express the intrinsic cultural value of objects and the importance of cultural manifestations within your own country and those of others.
- You can formulate hypothetical situations and give an opinion about their scope by properly using the imperfect subjunctive.
- You express the transition of one state to the other by using different verbs related to change.
- You can do a structured speech in which you contrast real and imaginary situations, even by using direct quotes from the participants of the story.
- You are able to discuss, in simple terms, how some actions might be perceived differently by members of other cultures.
In a nutshell: When you finish B1 levels, you are able to tell stories or hold a conversation using all the past tenses, formulate a hypothesis about the future, express probability and make predictions, express wishes and plans, talk about the duration of an action that started in the past and continues in the present, and understand and talk about costumes and traditions of other cultures.
Advanced levels (aka upper conversational)
- You properly distinguish the semantics of all the prepositions in Spanish which allows you to evaluate the meaning of common verbal periphrasis.
- You can alternate between active and passive voices in a conversation or speech by accurately using the different values of the pronoun se.
- You are able to state solid hypotheses and common moral dilemmas in debates by properly using the perfect tense of the subjunctive mood in Spanish.
- You are capable of interpreting and explaining different points of view from other social groups while being conscious of prejudices and stereotypes about your own country or those of others.
- You can distinguish hypothetical actions in the past by properly using the infinitive in accordance with the pluperfect subjunctive.
- You state, with solvency, hypothesis, and common moral dilemmas by properly using the pluperfect of the subjunctive mood in Spanish.
- You are able to deliver a speech with coherence and cohesion by properly using the relative pronouns and advanced connectors.
- You are able to discuss, in simple terms, how some actions might be perceived differently by members of other cultures.
In a nutshell: When you finish B2 levels, you are able to give a speech, talk, and debate about the quality of life in our society (or related topics), you are able to try to convince someone and set conditions to do something specific, formulate a hypothesis about the past, express the reasons of having certain feelings, write and understand texts, tv, films, news, etc., and understand and transmit different points of view from other cultures.
Expert levels (aka proficiency and mastery)
- You show a critical spirit in the analysis and in the production of argumentative texts of formal and informal character, whether they have an academic, business, journalistic, or entertainment nature.
- You can properly distinguish the meaning of poetry with metaphors and other figures of speech of a particular culture and/or country.
- You evaluate the scope, planning, execution, and evaluation of your own projects and those of others in an academic or professional context.
- You produce oral and written texts completely in Spanish with a proper style according to its intention and structure, and you are able to present it to an audience (whether they are experts in their field of knowledge or just common spectators).
- You are able to consistently evaluate and infer the meaning of complex ideological or humorous speeches or texts by studying them deeply.
- – You are capable of pronouncing individual and contextualized phonemes with vowel and consonant sounds, and thereby, properly distinguish all the accents in written Spanish.
In a nutshell: When you finish the C1 level, you have fluent, wide, and precise communication, you can adapt and act in different situations depending on the context, you can write clear, coherent, well-structured, and detailed texts of different natures with a certain complexity, and you can understand the implicit meaning of texts.
- You are able to spontaneously express yourself with complete fluency and precision even in complex situations.
- You can understand, with ease, almost everything you read or hear, and you are able to construct and reconstruct your own arguments and those of others in a perfectly coherent way whether they are spoken or written.
In a nutshell: Congratulations! You have mastered the Spanish language. This is a native level, so if you reach C2, you are already “on the other side”.
Keep in mind that if you need an official certificate of your Spanish level, it’s better to do a proficiency test such as the DELE, the SIELE, or the D.I.E. Exam.
A useful recommendation!
If you are keen on taking some classes or practicing with some good Spanish tips and resources, check our page of Spanish classes online, our Instagram page, and our blog. You can also write to firstname.lastname@example.org for additional info about the school or the classes.
We hope that these indicators help you know your Spanish level and therefore, boost your learning journey! There are a lot of resources out there, so now you are able to know which ones will suit you best according to your level and knowledge. And, don’t forget to always have fun while you are learning!