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What are 'levels of English' ?
Levels of English is exactly what it says. For example: Beginner, Advanced, Pre-intermediate are all levels of English.
Fluent is also a level of English, but mostly when we talk about language levels we intend foreign language students level of English.
The international way of describing levels is: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2 and this is the Common European Framework scale, set out by the Council of Europe in the 1990s.
Don't worry about this as you don't really need to know what level B2 or C1 are, but just in case you are curious, A1 is the absolute beginner level, as in no language knowledge and C2 is the top level of mastery of a language where the student is almost fluent in both the language speaking and structuring.
If you speak English fluently yourself, then you don't need to know any fancy method of labelling levels of English knowledge and just use your ears!
But .... you then also have to be able to combine that level to an English language course book level.
Evaluating a student's level of English
You have a short conversation with them. For example, if you ask the student:
How are you ? and the student answers : I am good, then
you know he can use the verb to be, but his grammar is not very good.
If he answers : I good
Then he's a beginner.
The best way to start assessing a student is by asking questions in various tenses:
What do you do ? [ present ]
What did you do yesterday ? [past ]
Where were you yesterday [ past ]
Where are you going after this lesson ? [ future ]
Have you been to Australia ? [ present perfect ]
If you were me, what would you do ? [ conditional ]
And if the student answers perfectly to the tense you used, then you know he is at that level of English.
Ok, fine, but what is 'that' level of English in the course books ? Which course book do I start using to teach this student ?
If the students answers correctly, for example:
Yesterday I went to the dentist [ past ].
You still don't know exactly, but at least you know he is at least at the Elementary level, because the past is the Elementary level.
But how do you know this ?
Finding out more
There are some tricks you can also use.
If the student answers : I am driving, to the question : What do you do ?,
you know immediately that she is a beginner. And she is also a beginner if to the question: Where were you yesterday ?, she answers : I go to dentist.
And so on.
Knowing that a student is a beginner or an advanced student helps ...more or less but let's do this professionally...
Let's get the level right in a professional manner
All the above is fine and interesting, but the scope of gauging a student's level of the English language knowledge is mainly important to be able to decide on which course book you should start teaching that student.
Experienced teachers who have been teaching for a couple of years at least can assess the student just by having a short conversation with him and know exactly on which NEF or NHW course level to start on, but someone who is just starting out to teach English may have some difficulty.
And this is where our Learn to teach English course comes into the game, because one of the first thing we teach you is how to quickly and precisely find out the students level.
In our course we show you how to use certain sections in the New English File and the New Headway course books to pinpoint exactly the student's language knowledge level, and this makes it very easy to know in about 3 minutes on which course book you should start teaching a particular student, whether Beginner or Intermediate, and even to decide whether to start by using the New English file or the New Headway course series. This because even the two courses, although similar, differ in slight aspects and depending on the exact level of the student's English, you will start by using only one of the two course books series... which one ? Do our course to find out.