Measuring your language proficiency

When learning a language it can be helpful to measure how well you are progressing every so often. There are various ways you could this, including taking language proficiency exams, asking your teacher or tutor to assess your progress, or setting yourself various language-related tasks and seeing how well you can do them.

There are international recognise language proficiency exams for a variety of languages. For French, for example, there are DILF, DELF and DALF exams at various levels which test your reading, writing, listening and speaking. These exams can be taken at test centres in 150 countries, and many language schools offer preparation courses for them. Similar exams are available for German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese, Japanese and various other languages. Having a certificate that these exams provide is very useful if you plan to study or work abroad, or to use your foreign language in a professional setting in your own country.

Some of the language proficiency exams are based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, which divides language proficieny into six levels from A1 (Breakthrough) to C2 (Mastery). If you prefer not to take the exams, you still use the framework to get an idea of your level.

If you set yourself language-related challenges, you can get an idea of your proficiency. The challenges might involve understanding particular texts, such as newspaper reports, magazine articles, comics, poems, novels, textbooks or academic articles. You could see how much you understand of a TV or radio programme, a play, film or lecture; try to have conversations on various topics, or give speeches or presentations; or try writing various kinds of texts. You might find that you can use the language well in some situations, but not so well in others. You could also try any of these challenges several times over a certain period of time to how much progress you’re making.