In this episode, you will learn how to describe your level of language proficiency in English or in any other language. How do you describe your level of English knowledge? Learn with me!

If somebody asks you questions like ‘How well do you know English?’ or ‘How good is your English?’ or ‘What is your English level?’, you can:

  • name your level of language proficiency according to the CEFR,
  • describe what you can do in this language, or
  • describe your general language competency.

Telling about your native language

I am a native speaker of …

  • I am a native speaker of Russian.
  • She is a native speaker of Italian.
  • She is an English native speaker.

If you can speak two languages at the same level of native-like proficiency, you are BILINGUAL.

If you know more than 4 or 5 foreign languages, you can call yourself a POLYGLOT.

  • One polyglot I know can speak 12 foreign languages!


A lot of people try to say ‘I speak in English’ or ‘I speak in Russian’. We don’t normally use IN in such sentences.

Correct: ‘I speak English’ or ‘I can speak English’, ‘I can speak Russian’.

Describing levels of language proficiency according to CEFR

There are three levels of language proficiency:

Basic User / Beginner, Elementary, and Pre-intermediate (A1-A2)

Independent User / Intermediate and Upper-intermediate (B1-B2)

Proficient User / Advanced (C1-C2)

Learn more about the CEFR here

But if you don’t know what it means, a teacher could help you with testing and recommendations.

Phrases to describe what you can do in the language

  • ‘I GET BY in English.’ (you have survival skills in this language: you can ask about something in the shop or in the restaurant)
  • ‘I can hold a basic conversation.’ (you can communicate on simple everyday topics)
  • ‘I know some words in Dutch.’ = ‘I know a few words in Dutch’
  • ‘I studied English at school, but I can’t speak it.’
  • ‘My English is a bit rusty’. (RUSTY = not fresh)
  • ‘I wish I could speak French better’.
  • ‘My English vocabulary could be better’. ‘I think my speaking skills in English could be better’.

Telling about your general language proficiency

You can describe your language skills as Basiс, Conversational, Fluent, or Proficient.

Basic – you can communicate on simple topics or know some phrases in this language.

Conversational – you can communicate on everyday topics with minor grammar or vocabulary mistakes but you can’t write in this language.

Fluent – you have the ability to express any idea without hesitation, with good vocabulary and grammar; people understand you easily. Both your spoken and written skills are good.

Proficient – different from fluent in the way that you now understand the structure of the language and you can explain how this language works to other people. You also can use idiomatic language and understand local accents.

Now it’s your turn! Please answer these questions in the comments: How is your English? What is your level of English? What can you do in English?


Check your conversation skills in English

Grammar Quiz: So do I / Neither do I

Figure Out English Episode 34 Is English difficult to learn?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *