ALTE / CEFR explained

ALTE / CEFR explained

The Common European Framework of Reference

All courses and exams at The English Academy Dublin are aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: published by the Council of Europe. This internationally recognised framework describes language ability in a scale of levels which ranges from A1 for beginners to C2 for those who have mastered a language.

Our qualifications are plotted against the six levels of the framework:

This makes it easy for anyone involved in language teaching and testing (learners, teachers, teacher trainers etc.) to see the level of different qualifications. It also means that employers and educational institutions can easily compare qualifications and see how they relate to exams they already know in their own country. Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment.

About the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is an international standard for describing language ability.

It is used around the world to describe learners’ language skills.

Watch this short video to learn about the CEFR.


Guided learning hours

The English Academy is often asked about the number of study hours required to reach a certain examination level. It is not possible to give a categorical answer to this, as hours of study required will vary depending upon several factors such as your language learning background, the intensity of your study, age as well as the amount of study/exposure outside of lesson times. The following figures are, however, sometimes quoted as an approximate guideline:

Common European Framework Guided Learning Hours
A2 approximately 180–200
B1 approximately 350–400
B2 approximately 500–600
C1 approximately 700–800
C2 approximately 1,000–1,200

Cambridge ESOL is a founder member of ALTE (Association of Language Testers in Europe), a group of leading language testing organisations in Europe. In order to make examination results easier to understand, ALTE members have developed a series of 'Can Do' statements for each of the CEFR levels. These statements describe what language users can typically do with the language at different levels and in different contexts (general, social & tourist, work, study).

For example, these are the ALTE 'Can Do' statements for general language

ALTE Can Do Statements: overall general ability
CEFR LEVELS Listening / Speaking Reading Writing
C2 CAN advise on or talk about complex or sensitive issues, understanding colloquial references and dealing confidently with hostile questions. CAN understand documents, correspondence and reports, including the finer points of complex texts. CAN write letters on any subject and full notes of meetings or seminars with good expression and accuracy.
C1 CAN contribute effectively to meetings and seminars within own area of work or keep up a casual conversation with a good degree of fluency, coping with abstract expressions. CAN read quickly enough to cope with an academic course, to read the media for information or to understand non-standard correspondence. CAN prepare/draft professional correspondence, take reasonably accurate notes in meetings or write an essay which shows an ability to communicate.
B2 CAN follow or give a talk on a familiar topic or keep up a conversation on a fairly wide range of topics. CAN scan texts for relevant information, and understand detailed instructions or advice. CAN make notes while someone is talking or write a letter including non-standard requests.
B1 CAN express opinions on abstract/cultural matters in a limited way or offer advice within a known area, and understand instructions or public announcements. CAN understand routine information and articles, and the general meaning of non-routine information within a familiar area. CAN write letters or make notes on familiar or predictable matters.
A2 CAN express simple opinions or requirements in a familiar context. CAN understand straightforward information within a known area, such as on products and signs and simple textbooks or reports on familiar matters. CAN complete forms and write short simple letters or postcards related to personal information.
A1 CAN understand basic instructions or take part in a basic factual conversation on a predictable topic. CAN understand basic notices, instructions or information. CAN complete basic forms, and write notes including times, dates and places.

At the end of your course at The English Academy, you will be given a Certificate clearly indicating the level you achieved on both the ALTE and CEFR scales. This Certificate is very useful if you plan to continue your English studies after returning home as any professional Academy will instantly be able to ascertain your starting level.