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What is your estimate of the CEFR levels?

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rdearman
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 Message 1 of 24
19 August 2014 at 10:56am | IP Logged 
I have to admit I've never taken a real CEFR test. I don't have an official score of my level of French or Italian. I estimate given the criteria listed here that I'm probably between B1 and B2.

But I see posts by people which lead me to believe I'm perhaps being to hard on myself. I think my reading in French is very poor, but I've taken a fairly comprehensive test which indicated my level was a solid/high B2. I should point out here that by nature I am a pessimist.

I spent a night in Rome recently with a load of Italians at a dinner party and conversed the entire night, only two of them spoke English. I left with a headache, but that might have been the wine not the languages. I firmly believe I'm B2 in Italian, but the CEFR would have me believe I'm C1 because the criteria for C1 is:

- Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
- Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

Recently I've seen a post which was like: "I started language learning last week. This stuff is easy, I'll be B2 by next week!". It would appear that some people's idea of what B2 means, and mine are wildly divergent. I've read psychological articles which state pessimists make better estimates, does that mean I'm more accurate at self-assessment?

What about you? Have you done a real CEFR examination? Did you overestimate or underestimate your skills before taking the test? Are you an optimist or a pessimist? If you haven't yet taken an official test, do you think you are too pessimistic or optimistic when you estimate your own level?



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tarvos
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 Message 2 of 24
19 August 2014 at 11:10am | IP Logged 
I haven't sat an official examination in French, but I have completed AF courses at the
B1 level a few years ago and I'm pretty sure my level is above what it was then; given
that my teacher insists on having me use strong C-level materials and expects me to
deal with it comfortably my assumption is that B2 is a MINIMUM for me now, and she
expects me to practically function like a Frenchman in all aspects (quasi bilingual, in
my case trilingual). I therefore believe that I must have reached some kind of plateau
which is close to a C level, but I have no confirmation - we will see when I sit an
actual test (which is in the far future but something I definitely want to do).

As for other languages, I have no idea, but my guesses are usually solid enough that I
am not too far off the actual levels - most of the speaks languages I would be
comfortable sitting B2 materials in, some probably even more, some not so much. People
have assessed me using a B2.2 placement test for German and I passed it with flying
colours, so I should be able to do C1 in German at least passively - actively is
another story.

Note that in all of my speaks languages I have finished reading novels, some with ease,
some not so much. In Russian there's a pretty big gap between spoken and written
language. I should probably read more Russian in order to improve that language. But
altogether my estimations would be B2 minimum for most of these and C1 in some aspects
(Swedish reading comprehension is surely a C1!).

In my other languages guesses can vary wildly but I have mild abilities to express
myself in Hebrew, Greek and Portuguese and I am surely not A1 in any of these. What it
is exactly I don't care about. The point is more that I want to see progress and a
continual desire to improve, and that lacking is more hurtful than tests. I would only
sit tests at higher levels where they are also a marker of professional ability in that
language.

Edited by tarvos on 19 August 2014 at 11:11am

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Radioclare
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 Message 3 of 24
19 August 2014 at 11:38am | IP Logged 
Very interesting topic. I was also looking at the CEFR levels recently, trying to assess where my Croatian was, and by the time I'd finished reading the criteria I wasn't even convinced that I was a B2 in English :D

I am definitely a pessimist though and not the world's most confident person, so my natural inclination is to understate my abilities.

I've seen mock B2 and C1 questions for the Esperanto CEFR exams (written part) and they seemed really straight forward, but that's just a reflection of how easy Esperanto is. There should hopefully be a session of the Esperanto CEFR exams in the UK soon and I'm hoping that if I sit one of those papers I'll get a better understanding of what's required at each level and be able to assess my other languages more accurately.
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garyb
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 Message 4 of 24
19 August 2014 at 12:38pm | IP Logged 
There's a self-assessment checklist floating around somewhere that gives a lot more detail than the usual one or two sentence descriptions and is useful for estimating your level. I can't find it though - the Dropbox link I have is out of date. I think it was Emk who originally posted it so he might be able to provide a working link.

I've not done a test, although I've looked at example papers. My estimates are probably more on the pessimistic side, although I like to say realistic. When you read the descriptions for B2 and C1 it doesn't sound like there's a big difference between the two, when in reality the amount of effort to get from expressing yourself quite well to expressing yourself very well is incredible. More than the effort to get from nothing to quite well, at least for the Romance languages I'm familiar with.

When you're at the beginner/intermediate stage and seem to be making fast progress, it's easy to fool yourself into thinking things will keep moving that quickly, like your "I'll be B2 next week!" quote. I've been there myself: I remember at the start of one of my earlier TAC logs I wrote that I felt I had reached around B2 in French and I'd probably reach C1 by the end of the year if not earlier... How wrong I was. Also, certain situations can fool you into thinking you're better than you really are. At language meetups or in one-to-one conversations I often feel like I'm doing great, only to get a bit of a shock when I visit the country and have to use the language in a much wider variety of contexts.

At risk of stating the obvious, my overall estimate is the lowest of my estimates for the four skills, which is of course speaking. My French reading and listening comprehension has probably been at C1 for a couple of years, and my Italian must be around there by now too: I can follow fast conversations between natives just fine and can watch most films without subtitles. But as I always say, passive skills are comparatively the easy part; it feels like getting my speaking up to a consistent C1 standard could be another few years' work for Italian, and I'm not sure I'd ever get there for French unless I found more speaking opportunities. That's just me though; different learners have different strengths and plenty people pick up speaking more easily than me but have more trouble with listening.

Also, the higher you get, the more difference there tends to be between good days and bad days, and I try to take that into account when I estimate. "C1 on a good day" isn't really C1, but judging your ability from your bad days isn't exactly representative either.
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Via Diva
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 Message 5 of 24
19 August 2014 at 1:37pm | IP Logged 
According to Deutsche Welle CEFR tests I am definitely A2 in German, and I am not sure about that, because some questions I had to answer blindly and some was about my intuition, not the real knowledge. The worst thing is that I felt just the same during A1 test, so for now I think that I am A1-A2 and still far from B1. So much for nearly 1,5 years of... well, inconsistent studying.
As for English I am not sure whether I am B2 or C1, but short tests claim that I am C2. I don't have a need to sit any tests at least in two years, so I have time to make sure that I can leave B2 behind and aim for C level.
Oh, and everything else is A0, of course.
P.S. It would be interesting to evaluate my knowledge of Russian, because our national exam doesn't give a reasonable answer, IMHO.
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luke
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 Message 6 of 24
19 August 2014 at 2:15pm | IP Logged 
Radioclare wrote:
I was also looking at the CEFR levels recently, trying to assess where my Croatian was, and by the time I'd finished reading the criteria I wasn't even convinced that I was a B2 in English :D


That is funny of course because you are a native English speaker.

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emk
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 Message 7 of 24
19 August 2014 at 2:28pm | IP Logged 
garyb wrote:
There's a self-assessment checklist floating around somewhere that gives a lot more detail than the usual one or two sentence descriptions and is useful for estimating your level. I can't find it though - the Dropbox link I have is out of date. I think it was Emk who originally posted it so he might be able to provide a working link.

Here's the CEFR self-evaluation checklist. Please note that this list assumes that you'll answer fairly optimistically, as far as I can tell—I passed a B2 exam with room to spare when this list said I was almost B2. So if you're very critical of your own skills, assume that this list will place you too low on the CEFR scale.

garyb wrote:
Also, the higher you get, the more difference there tends to be between good days and bad days, and I try to take that into account when I estimate. "C1 on a good day" isn't really C1, but judging your ability from your bad days isn't exactly representative either.

Yeah, I'm unwilling to say that I'm C1 without actually sitting an exam, but I read most French quite comfortably (except for things like poetry from the late 1800s and aggressively casual texts aimed at college students). My listening comprehension is usually pretty good for natives talking to each other, but I still struggle with French films. My weakest point is my speaking, which is still really uneven—on very good days, I can sometimes express complicated ideas quickly, but it's hard for me to remain at that level. So it's probabably safe to assume that I'm a fairly high B2 with some C1 skills, but I won't claim anything more without an official certificate. :-)
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Radioclare
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 Message 8 of 24
19 August 2014 at 3:09pm | IP Logged 
luke wrote:
That is funny of course because you are a native English speaker.


Well I did say I was a pessimist ;)

The document emk has linked to is really useful and makes a lot more sense than the level descriptions I was looking at before.


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