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Language Center of UZH and ETH Zurich

Course levels

Our language courses are based on internationally recognized language-level descriptors. We use the Council of Europe's Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), levels A1-C2. The CEFR recognizes three basic language-skill levels:

A: Basic User:  Basic language use
B: Independent User: Independent language use
C: Proficient User: Competent language use

Basic User

At A1 (Breakthrough) level you are able to use simple sentences. You can introduce yourself and others, ask and answer questions about others and about your studies and work, and deal linguistically with simple daily situations. To do this, you depend on your interlocutor to speak slowly and clearly and to help you with difficulties in making yourself understood.

At A2 (Waystage) level you are frequently able to communicate in simple routine situations where the content is familiar. For example, you can talk about your family and yourself and you are able to do the shopping.

Independent User

At B1 (Threshold) level you are able to understand the main points of technical texts and give a highly simplified overview of a very familiar technical topic. You are able to communicate linguistically and interculturally in everyday life, on campus, during an internship, at work, and while travelling. You can communicate in a simple and coherent way about familiar topics, personal interests, experiences, and intentions.

At B2 (Vantage) level you can understand complex texts and discussions on concrete and abstract topics (from your field of expertise). You can express yourself clearly and in detail on a wide range of subjects, explain your point of view, and express the advantages and disadvantages of various options. You can interact spontaneously and fluently with native speakers without too much effort for either party.

Proficient User

At C1 (Effectiveness) level you can study in your target language without major issues and communicate effectively at work. You understand complex texts (from your specialist area) and can also grasp implicit meanings. You can express yourself clearly and in a structured and detailed manner, both orally and in writing, on complex subjects; you are able to use various types of cohesive devices.

At C2 (Mastery) level you can master almost all situations linguistically and interculturally. You can write your thesis or a technical essay largely independently. You understand what you have read and heard with ease. You can summarize information from various written and oral sources, and you can present reasons and explanations coherently. You can recognize and apply nuances of meaning in complex situations. You can communicate effortlessly, spontaneously, accurately, and fluently in a variety of communicative settings.

Detailed information on starting and finishing levels are available in our course descriptions.

Below are the level descriptors and checklists for initial self-assessments in various languages. To assess your language level, use the document(s) that are in your first language or in a language that you speak at a high level. Then apply the descriptors/checklists in the document(s) to the language you wish to assess.


Assessment grids: Self-assessment checklists:
Deutsch (PDF, 211 KB) Deutsch (PDF, 96 KB)
Englisch (PDF, 77 KB) Englisch (PDF, 328 KB)
Französisch (PDF, 211 KB) Französisch (PDF, 116 KB)
Italienisch (PDF, 92 KB) Italienisch (PDF, 137 KB)

For self-assessment grids in other languages and information on the European Language Portfolio go to  this website.