What are the different levels in French language?

When you start learning French or when you go back to it, it’s important to know the different levels.
But sometimes it can be tricky to understand, depending on the country you live in. So let’s take a closer look at this together.

sign you got this next to a phone and computer for online lesson

The European reference for levels in French language

As most of the resources I use are created in France, I organize the levels using the European reference: Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). In this reference, you have 6 levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. A1 being the complete beginner level, C1 the level of most native speakers and C2 the expert level.
Most exams in French language are based on this reference as well (DELF, DALF, …).
If you’d like to know more about this reference, you can read the details here: https://www.coe.int/en/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages .

So what does it mean exactly?

That is a very good question; I’m glad you asked! I know that it can be complex to understand for a lot of people in North America, because the system here is different. As a result, I decided to make it easier and categorize the different levels:

  • Beginners: A1 – A2 part 1

You just started or took some French before and know how to speak about you, what you like or do, food, your life, your family and maybe your travels.

  • Intermediate: A2 part 2 – B1

You have good basics in French, know how to speak about the past or the future, your emotions and can manage to live in French speaking places using the language.

  • Advanced: B2 – C1

You are comfortable using the language in a conversation, at work or when travelling, know a lot of different vocabulary and complex structures, can use almost all the tenses in French and have no problem following a native speaker.

  • Expert: C2

You have no problem using the language or following a native speaker, know a lot of specific vocabulary and complex structures and can use all the tenses in French.


If the expert level seems far from where you’re at right now, know that most native speakers are not C2. Funny story: when I was a teacher in France, most of my students were actually better in French than a lot of native speakers (because they paid attention to the grammar)!

So fear not, you will be able to speak French and order your glass of wine or your baguette long before C1 or C2! Yay!

happy woman jumping with trees around her

You would like to know what your level is? Book a free meet and greet and we’ll do a level assessment together!
No obligation to register after; it’s up to you! 😉

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