English Learning Levels & Examinations


Description of Competency



Understands high frequency phrases

May not yet understand Roman script (depending on parent language)

Understands very little when spoken to


No functional communicative ability

Upper elementary

Gets by using basic words

Able to express common courtesies

Understands in predictive situations only

Able to read and write basic text

Vocabulary limited to greetings and simple every day words 

Key English Test

Gets by on a basic level in predictive situations only 

Lower Intermediate

Able to convey simple information

Understanding of basic grammatical constructs

Vocabulary extended to routine categories

Understanding increased - able to understand simple questions / statements

Business English Certificate Preliminary

Satisfies basic survival needs

Upper Intermediate

Able to convey more complex information

Understanding of increased grammatical constructs - including perfect, conditional tenses

Understands more complex questions and statements

Can 'get the gist' with a broad range of literature

Able to converse fairly competently when discussing social and work situations

Business English Certificate Vantage


First Certificate in English

Reliable communication

Lower Advanced

Able to sustain conversation

Able to participate in business meetings - understands broadly what is happening, although contributions are limited

Interacts spontaneously with a high degree of accuracy

Basic understanding and recognition of accents and idioms

Produces acceptable business documentation and related material 

Business English Certificate Higher

International English Language Testing System

Good level of competence 

Upper Advanced

Participates effectively in business meetings and contributes well to discussions

Interacts on the same level as an educated native speaker

Supports opinions using native-like discourse

Understands accents and idioms

Produces business documentation and related material with the competency of a native speaking colleague

Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE)

Communication at professional level