For beginners, you need to understand the standard language level of competence to determine which tier you should start learning.
German language skills take time and your language learning should be at the right German language course.
At least 4 weeks per level is required to get the basic knowledge of levels of language competence.
So when you learn German language levels, determine if you’re in the beginner, intermediate, and advanced levels.
What is CEFR?
CEFR or Common European Framework of Reference for Languages is a six-tiered system for language skills competency.
Many European languages follow this framework for the advancement of European multilingualism.
It outlines in detail what language learners must learn in order to utilize a language for communication, as well as what information and abilities they must acquire in order to act successfully.
The description also includes information on the cultural context in which language is used.
The Framework also specifies degrees of proficiency, which allow learners’ development to be measured at each stage of learning and throughout the course of their lives.
According to the official statement of the Council of Europe, “The CEFL is provided to users as a descriptive tool that allows them to reflect on their decisions and practice, as well as place and coordinate their efforts for the benefit of language learners in their individual situations.”
German Language Levels
Your German language proficiency is measured through different German language levels.
It takes at least 60 – 80 hours of consistent study to achieve the next level in German courses.
To reach at least half of the CEFL system, you need 8 weeks or 160 lessons to complete.
Sometimes these numbers are changed depending on what type of learning that school is offering (intensive, slow-paced, detailed, online courses, etc.)
Most CEFR Levels start at A1 but we’d like to acknowledge how some people really don’t have any knowledge of speaking German prior to their classes.
Hence, you’ll see our level rankings this way:
Total Beginner to Beginner (A1)
Also known as the basic language level, the A1 level is for students who have zero or no knowledge of German.
Completing German A1 for total beginner to beginners means that you can make simple inquiries and ask for directions.
You can also introduce yourself, your family members, and your age.
You can also tell the German clock time at this level.
The most complex sentence discussion you can make for level A1 is to return a faulty item to the store and ask for a refund or same-item exchange.
In short, this level is your first step to becoming a native German speaker.
Elementary to Intermediate (A2 to B1)
Elementary German (A2)
Topics for the A2 level include travel, living abroad, holidays, and events. You can also talk about your past and need to establish the different gender noun declensions and conjugations.
At some point, you can try reading the headlines of German newspapers and some short articles about the lifestyle and culture of Germany.
They can also describe similarities and differences between their country and Germany with a few sentences.
It is crucial for students in the A2 level to press on for B1 because they have to memorize tables and grammar rules.
Brush up with a few memorization techniques to learn German in six months or less.
For intermediate (B1)
You can now express more of yourself and what you want to say in a normal conversation.
B1 topics revolve around leisure activities, business life, and focus on articles, verb conjugation (Präsens, Perfekt, Präteritum, Konjunktiv), modal verbs, trennbare Verben, declination of adjectives, and prepositions.
Students at the B1 level also know the do’s and don’ts in German culture and talk to German native speakers without the help of a translator.
You can now also help other beginners with no German knowledge in their studies, especially with the basic use of German grammar and noun genders in articles.
Upper-Intermediate to Advanced (B2 to C1)
The B2 level is the second half of German language skills. At this rate, you already have a good grasp of the language and can interpret it for other people.
Students in B2 may engage in heavy topics like politics, history, and religion and even read more news about Germany and the world.
You’re not there yet, but just after 80 more hours and everyday conversation examples, you’ll get the hang of German (even German slang).
Topics include Nomen-Verb-Verbindungen: specific noun-verb-combinations, Passiv (passive voice), indirekte Rede (indirect speech), Konjunktiv I, Plusquamperfekt (past perfect), Akusativ, Genitiv (Genetive) cases.
More importantly, you’ll have to study complex conjunctions and prepositions.
Congratulations! If you’ve reached the C1 level, you are almost fluent and only need deep vocabulary words to flourish your sentences.
You can now interpret art, philosophy, and religion, and state your own views with little to no preparation.
Students in this level also enjoy more poem structures and films that depict German life, and also construct and engage in debate topics if necessary.
Many students need the motivation to continue their fluency because this level is where everyone gets stuck.
Our tip: review your speaking, listening, reading, and writing skills with other students before you take a placement test.
Fluency/Mastery or C2 in your German skills means you are at the same level as native speakers, almost like German is your native language too.
Language experts say that achieving fluency is realistically possible after a year or two if you’re only doing 3-4 hours a day.
But if you’re very serious about achieving C2 for this foreign language, it might take you at least 7-10 months to think, speak, read, and listen to complex texts and German discussions.
If you’re dreaming of working in Germany, you must at least have B2 to C1 level for careers that involve the medical, industrial, math, science, political and similar fields.
However, German factories allow workers to get at least A2 to B1 level and then continue their studies in Germany.
Some shops even allow English speakers and won’t require German to a certain extent.
Should you get a German Language Certification?
Enrolling in German universities will help you do well in your placement tests and get a high score on your German language certification exam.
But, do you know where to get this language certificate?
A few German universities host official exams to test your skills apart from your German grammar and vocabulary comprehension.
Be prepared, these exams are official and cost some money since the certificates are recognized globally.
Some of the language centers are:
- Goethe Institute’s Goethe-Zertifikat
- The German TELC (The European Language Certificate)
- BAMF – Bundesamt für Migration und Flüchtlinge (Federal Office for Migration and Refugees)
- Deutsches Sprachdiplom der Kultusministerkonferenz (German Language Certificate of the Education Ministers Conference) designated for foreign students
You can choose from any of these language placement centers but some, such as foreign workers or students must get their GLC from their respective countries before entering Germany.
It’s easy to search for a local German placement center online or with your local government’s help.
Know your German language level via an online placement test
Taking a placement test online will determine if you are beyond intermediate or just a beginner.
These tests are free on most online teaching platforms to see if you have mastery of vocabulary, grammar rules, and knowledge of complex topics.
You can also get a free placement test if you’re enrolled in German language classes at a local university in Germany or from where you live.