Appendix B – Second Language Proficiency Levels




Reading /
Written Comprehension

Writing /
Written Expression

Speaking /
Oral Interaction

U *

Below Beginner

Demonstrates a proficiency lower than Level A.



A person reading at this level can fully understand very simple texts; grasp the main idea of texts about familiar topics; and read and understand elementary points of information such as dates, numbers, or names from relatively more complex texts to perform routine job-related tasks.

A person at this level can write very limited units of information; ability to write isolated words, phrases, simple statements or questions on very familiar topics using words of time, place or person.

A person speaking at this level can understand most speech that deals with concrete and routine topics and is delivered slowly and clearly in standard speech. Can make self understood in short contributions, even though pauses and false starts are very evident. Can talk about everyday aspects of routine activities and can handle a simple question-and-answer exchange. Has sufficient basic vocabulary and grammatical structures to conduct routine transactions involving familiar situations and topics. Structures and vocabulary borrowed from another language can interfere with the clarity of the message. Pronunciation requires close attention from the listener, but there are no long stretches that are unclear.



A person reading at this level can grasp the main idea of most work-related texts; identify specific details; and distinguish main from subsidiary ideas.

A person at this level can write short descriptive or factual texts; ability to write with sufficient mastery of grammar and vocabulary to deal with explicit information on work-related topics.

A person speaking at this level can understand the main points of clear standard speech that deals with concrete, work-related topics and is delivered at normal speed. Can give a simple description of a concrete topic, can explain main points comprehensibly and can compare and discuss alternatives when complications arise. Can speak with some spontaneity, although pauses for grammatical and lexical planning and repair are evident in longer stretches. Has sufficient vocabulary and a variety of simple structures to handle concrete, non-routine situations and topics and can link a series of simple elements into a connected sequence when giving a factual description. There may be miscommunication in some areas, but most stretches are clear. Pronunciation is generally clear enough to be understood, despite an evident accent from another language. Listeners will, at times, need to ask for repetition or clarification.



A person reading at this level can understand most complex details, inferences and fine points of meaning; and have a good comprehension of specialized or less familiar material.

A person at this level can write explanations or descriptions in a variety of informal and formal work-related situations; ability to write texts in which the ideas are developed and presented in a coherent manner; ability to write texts in which vocabulary, grammar and spelling are generally appropriate and require few corrections.

A person speaking at this level can understand linguistically complex speech that deals with work-related topics and is spoken in standard dialect at normal speed. Can give clear, detailed descriptions of complex topics and can summarize a discussion. Can express and sustain opinions and can respond to complex and hypothetical questions. Has a fairly natural and even delivery, with occasional hesitations, but most hesitations are for ideas. Has a broad range of vocabulary and structures when talking about complex and abstract topics, with a relatively high degree of control. Makes errors, but these rarely lead to misunderstanding. Pronunciation is clear, even if an accent from another language is noticeable. Occasional mispronunciations occur, but they rarely interfere with communication.

E *


Demonstrates an ability to indefinitely sustain a C level of proficiency.



Ability normally acquired through specialized training or experience. Used only for translation and text editing where expert, professional and technical knowledge is required.

* Level is not used to describe position language requirements

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