High school graduates are currently tested in language skills for the foreign language studied during high school. However, few of them really know what A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2 actually mean. Neither do their parents properly understand the significance of such symbols considered to have been adopted from the English language.
Actually, these foreign language competency levels have been set by the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) based on the three levels generally used in CVs, namely beginner, intermediate and advanced. These EU foreign language competency levels refer to the user’s actual capacity to use the learned language and not to their theoretical knowledge of that language.
Thus, level A is the basic level, with A1 for beginners and A2 for an elementary reception, reading and understanding of texts, but also for oral and written communication. In other words, an A1 graduate is able to communicate at beginner’s level, using familiar expressions and basic statements, being able to request help if necessary. A2 users are able to make a simple description of themselves, but also of people close to them, to communicate through frequently used expressions.
The second level, B, refers to independent users (B1 – threshold/intermediate level, B2 – upper intermediate/vantage level). B1 users can deal with most situations likely to arise in an area where the language is spoken, because they are able to produce simple connected text on topics that are familiar to them, to describe experiences and to explain their opinions. The B2 level recognizes a user’s capacity to discuss on technical or specialized issues. They are able to interact with native speakers with a degree of fluency and to explain points of view.
The proficient user of a foreign language is confirmed by level C: C1 – advanced level, C2 – mastery level. High school graduates with a C1 language certificate will for sure have a big advantage in getting a job because they are able to express themselves fluently and spontaneously, to produce clear texts, to use language flexibly and effectively for various social, academic and professional purposes. Level C2 confirms those who master a foreign language. They are capable to express various subtle meanings spontaneously and very fluently, to understand everything they read or hear, and to make coherent presentations.
Obtaining a higher language competency certificate upon high school graduation can facilitate a career in a field of activity related to foreign languages. Consequently, those interested in translations should aim at getting a good foreign language competency certificate.