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  Last update: 3 July 2020

Proficiency levels


The world is becoming more international by the day. English is
increasingly used as the Lingua Franca of business management,
air transport and shipping, science and technology, computers,
commerce, education, and legal affairs, to name a few.


European higher education

To make European Higher Education more competitive and more
attractive for Europeans and for students and scholars from other
continents, the Bologna Declaration of June 1999 has put in motion
a series of reforms. These included Europe-wide adoption of the
Anglo-Saxon Bachelor-Master system, enhanced quality assurance
procedures and improved recognition, synchronisation and
compatibility. To facilitate smooth international transitions in all
disciplines, the number of classes taught in English should increase


Impacts on European industry and businesses

Due to a growing need for internationally recognised certificates, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) was developed for assessing proficiency levels, also affecting industry. European job descriptions increasingly contain English language requirements referring to these proficiency levels. In parallel, so are text books for language study.


Common European Framework (CEFR)

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages
describes in great detail what a language learner should be able to do
at a particular level of proficiency. Five different skills are distinguished:
reading, writing, listening, spoken production, spoken interaction.
For each skill, six levels are defined:

A1 and A2: Basic User

B1 and B2: Independent User

C1 and C2: Proficient User


Language proficiency tests


Cambridge University offers certificates in English ranging from
beginner to near-native level.

Books can be obtained from Cambridge University Press (English Language Teaching).

Exams in the Netherlands are organised by the British Council.


IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is an English proficiency test for academic and general English.


TOEFL (Test of English As a Foreign Language) is an English proficiency test that is used as an admission test in universities around the world.


Dialang provides a web-based test in many languages, where you can learn about your strengths and weaknesses in a foreign language, and determine your own proficiency level (test yourself).


Curious? Take a test!

Want to improve? Get in touch!

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