Tandem tips

A Guide to Our Language Levels and the CEFRL

TandemMay 6, 20195-min read

At Tandem, we believe in productive language exchanges, where two people learn equally from one another. To do this, it helps to find a partner who matches you in terms of the level of language knowledge. That’s why we’re bringing Language Levels to Tandem!

Looking for a way to boost your language skills quickly and effectively? Our Tandem app helps you find a conversation exchange partner to chat with! Whether you want to learn the latest slang phrases, need clarification for a tricky grammar rule or just want to talk to a like-minded language learner, Tandem is the app for you!

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What’s a Tandem Language Level?

A level shows your partner how far along you are on your language journey, and what your next goal is likely to be. You can choose from three levels on Tandem:

Beginner:

This is for members who are making their first steps in learning a language. You might not know any words at all; or perhaps you just know some basics, such as how to introduce yourself or ask for directions. It’s probably a bit too early for you to have an effective language exchange in a video chat, so we advise you to communicate with your partners with text and audio messages to make progress, using the help of our tools like automatic translations.

Intermediate:

This is for members who already have some basic language skills and can speak with some confidence on easier topics. You can go shopping, make plans with others, discuss your travels and describe the plot of your favorite movie, for example. The research of our friends at the Tandem Fundazioa showed that at this stage you are ready for an effective language exchange in a video chat. A good indicator is that you are able to talk about things that happened in the past, for example, using the “perfect tense” in many languages (in English: “I have seen…”).

Advanced:

This is for members who are very confident in their speaking skills. You can have a spontaneous and fluent conversation, understand the news and use the language effectively for work and studies.

See our blog post for a walk-through guide of how to add a language level to your profile.

Where do the levels come from?

We have designed our Tandem Language Levels to correspond with levels in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFRL), an internationally recognized system for learning languages.

On Tandem: Beginner = A1/A2, Intermediate = B1 and Advanced = B2+.

What is the CEFRL?

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages divides language learners into three broad groups - A, B & C. Here’s a table that shows in detail what the levels mean in the CEFRL:

Group A - Basic user

Level Description
A1
  • Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.
  • Can introduce themselves and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people they know and things they have.
  • Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
A2
  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).
  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.
  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of their background, immediate environment, and matters in areas of immediate need.

Group B - Independent user

Level Description
B1
  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise while traveling in an area where the language is spoken.
  • Can produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar or of personal interest.
B2
  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in their field of specialization.
  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.
  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

Group C - Proficient user

Level Description
C1
  • Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer clauses, and recognize implicit meaning.
  • Can express ideas fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.
  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.
  • Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors, and cohesive devices.
C2
  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.
  • Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.
  • Can express themselves spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

These levels are designed to be used with European languages - Tandem members come from all around the world and are learning more than 150 different languages, many non-European. Therefore, the CEFRL should be used as a general reference point, rather than a foolproof method for checking language levels.

For more information on the CEFRL, please see this article.