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Language Levels

Looking to book a course with Cactus but unsure of your current level ability?

Below you will find a breakdown of each of our levels and their equivalent in other language grading levels.

Once you have completed a level test for the language of your choice you will receive a score and recommended level for your course.

Learn More About Our Levels

Select one of the Cactus Levels to find our more about what each level entails and find the relative CEFR and ACTFL levels.

Beginner
Level Test ScoreCEFR/ACTFL ReferenceCEFR Level NameACTFL Level Name
0-9A1BeginnerNovice (Low / Med / High)

Cactus Beginner Levels: Beginner 1, Beginner 2 and Beginner 3

Level Duration: 20 hours tuition per Beginner Level (3x 20 hour courses = 60 hours total to complete Beginner A1)

Choose this level, if this describes you…

Beginner 1: You are a complete beginner and have no prior knowledge of the language, with the exception of perhaps a few key words.

Beginner 2: You are a “false beginner”, i.e. you have some prior, but very basic, knowledge of the language, and find it difficult to produce more than a few key words and phrases. Maybe you haven’t used the language in a while and/or want to start at ‘the beginning’.

Beginner 3: You have a very basic knowledge of the language. Your vocabulary is very limited and you have no real understanding of the grammar.

E.g. you can introduce yourself, ask simple directions and order food & drink in a café or restaurant.

At the end of Beginner 3 (A1):

  • You can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type
  • You can introduce yourself and others
  • You can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, what you do, people you know and things you have
  • You can ask and give directions
  • You can order food and drink
  • You can make very basic travel and accommodation arrangements
  • You can have a basic conversation, provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.
Elementary
Level Test ScoreCEFR/ACTFL ReferenceCEFR Level NameACTFL Level Name
10-19A2ElementaryIntermediate (Low / Mid)

Cactus Elementary Levels: Elementary 1, Elementary 2 and Elementary 3

Level Duration: 20 hours tuition per Elementary Level (3x 20 hour courses = 60 hours total to complete Elementary A2)

Choose this level, if this describes you…

You can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and very basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.

You can introduce yourself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where you live, people you know and things you have.

You can interact in a simple way, provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

At the end of Elementary 3 (A2):

  • You can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas including basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography and employment
  • You can communicate in simple and routine tasks, requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters
  • You can describe, in simple terms, aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need
  • You can comfortably ‘get by’ when visiting the country, albeit with some difficulty.
Intermediate
Level Test ScoreCEFR/ACTFL ReferenceCEFR Level NameACTFL Level Name
20-29B1IntermediateIntermediate High

Cactus Intermediate Levels: Intermediate 1, Intermediate 2 and Intermediate 3

Level Duration: 20 hours tuition per Intermediate Level (3x 20 hour courses = 60 hours total to complete Intermediate B1)

Choose this level, if this describes you…

You can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g. very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).

You can communicate in simple and routine tasks, requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.

You can describe, in simple terms, aspects of your background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.

At the end of Intermediate 3 (B1):

  • You can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.
  • You can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken
  • You can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest
  • You can describe experiences and events
  • You can talk about dreams, hopes and ambitions
  • You can briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans
  • You could consider working in the country using the language (e.g. bar/counter work, waiting service in cafés or basic office work).
Upper Intermediate
Level Test ScoreCEFR/ACTFL ReferenceCEFR Level NameACTFL Level Name
30-35B2Upper IntermediateAdvanced (Low / Med / High)

Cactus Upper Intermediate Levels: Upper Intermediate Lower and Upper Intermediate Higher

Level Duration: 40 hours tuition per Upper Intermediate Level (2 courses of 20 hours per Upper Intermediate Level).

4x 20 hour courses = 80 hours total to complete Upper Intermediate B2)

Choose this level, if this describes you…

You can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.

You can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.

You can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.

You can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions, and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

At the end of Upper Intermediate Higher (B2):

  • You can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation
  • You can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible, without strain for either party
  • You can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options
  • You can do business with speakers of the language in most run-of-the-mill situations.
Advanced
Level Test ScoreCEFR/ACTFL ReferenceCEFR Level NameACTFL Level Name
36-39C1AdvancedSuperior

Cactus Advanced Includes: Advanced

Level Duration: 20 hours tuition per Advanced course (3-4x 20 hour courses = 60-80 hours total to complete Advanced C1)

Choose this level, if this describes you…

You can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in your field of specialisation.

You can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible, without strain for either party.

You can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue, giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.

At the end of Advanced (C1):

  • You can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning
  • You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions
  • You can use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes
  • You can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, logical flow of text, and clear awareness of the audience.
Proficient
Level Test ScoreCEFR/ACTFL ReferenceCEFR Level NameACTFL Level Name
40C2ProficientDistinguished

Cactus Proficient Includes: Proficient

Level Duration: 20 hours tuition per Proficient course (3-4x 20 hour courses = 60-80 hours total to complete Proficient C2)

Choose this level, if this describes you…

You can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognise implicit meaning.

You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.

You can use the language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

You can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organisational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.

At the end of Proficient (C2):

  • You can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read
  • You can summarise information from different spoken and written sources
  • You can reconstruct arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation
  • You can express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely
  • You can differentiate finer shades of meaning, even in the most complex situations.

Take a Level Test

We offer two types of language level tests which are designed to give you an approximate indication of your ability level in order to help you select the best course for you.

We have a general self-assessment test that allows you to judge your own ability on specific skills related to language learning and multiple-choice grammar tests in specific languages to ascertain your understanding of specific grammar and language skills in your chosen language.

These tests are designed to help you make an informed decision on which course level is best suited to your current skill level. Each one takes up to 10 minutes to complete and results will be displayed on screen as well as emailed to your inbox.

Self-Assessment Placement Test

Grammar Test

  • Arabic Level Test
  • Cantonese Level Test
  • Croatian Level Test
  • Czech Level Test
  • Danish Level Test
  • Dutch Level Test
  • English Level Test
  • French Level Test
  • German Level Test
  • Greek Level Test
  • Hebrew Level Test
  • Hindi Level Test
  • Italian Level Test
  • Japanese Level Test
  • Korean Level Test
  • Mandarin Level Test
  • Norwegian Level Test
  • Polish Level Test
  • Portuguese Level Test
  • Russian Level Test
  • Spanish Level Test
  • Swedish Level Test
  • Thai Level Test
  • Turkish Level Test
let’s go
Level Test ScoreCactus Level NameCEFR/ACTFL ReferenceCEFR Level NameACTFL Level Name
0-9Beginner 1, 2 and 3A1BeginnerNovice (Low / Med / High)
10-19Elementary 1, 2 and 3A2ElementaryIntermediate (Low / Mid)
20-29Intermediate 1, 2 and 3B1IntermediateIntermediate High
30-35Upper Intermediate Lower and HigherB2Upper IntermediateAdvanced (Low / Med / High)
36-39AdvancedC1AdvancedSuperior
40ProficientC2ProficientDistinguished

Level Equivalents

Below is a simple comparison of Cactus Language Levels with CEFR* and AFTCL** equivalents to help you compare your current level.

Our course levels are based on these internationally recognised systems, so you have a universally accepted reference for your studies:

*Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR)

**American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages Proficiency Guidelines (ACTFL)

The course structure reflects this. It is designed to give you a solid foundation in the language and provide you with course content relevant to your ability level.

How long does it take to progress?

Each Cactus level (e.g. Beginner 1) takes 10 weeks, 20 hours course time and 10 hours self-study time to complete. And each Cactus level follows on sequentially and progressively, from one level to the next. E.g. after Beginner 1 you need to take Beginner 2.

After each level you can obtain a certificate of attendance for that level, which is mapped to the internationally recognised CEFR (Common European Framework).

It is possible to complete four 10 week courses per year with Cactus. If you wanted to progress from Beginner 1 (A1) through to Intermediate 1 (B1) (Intermediate/good conversational and functional level of the language) this would take 18 months.

With Upper Intermediate (B2) is it necessary to complete a total of four levels (Upper Intermediate Lower x 2 , Upper Intermediate  Higher x 2) – this is because it takes more time and practise to get to an advanced stage.

With Advanced and Proficiency levels, there is no minimum or maximum number of courses you can take – this is the stage at which you are near native speaking level and progression depends entirely on the individual.

Start learning today

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • Catalan
  • Czech
  • Croatian
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
let’s go

How to book with Cactus

Select language

Simply select which language you would like to learn and from the box below and click lets go.

Take level test

This is a quick test to help you find the right course for your current level of knowledge.

Book your course

Use our simple online booking system to select your course.

  • French
  • German
  • Italian
  • Spanish
  • Arabic
  • Cantonese
  • Catalan
  • Czech
  • Croatian
  • Danish
  • Dutch
  • English
  • Greek
  • Hebrew
  • Hindi
  • Japanese
  • Korean
  • Mandarin
  • Norwegian
  • Polish
  • Portuguese
  • Russian
  • Swedish
  • Thai
  • Turkish
  • Ukrainian
let’s go

Frequently asked questions

What will I learn?

Our Course Outlines give an overview of the content and learning framework of Cactus courses. Includes themes, grammar and vocabulary you can typically expect to cover. These are intended as a guide only. Language teachers may at times adapt the course content to suit the specific level, aims and interests of the class.

How do I know what level I am?

Are you unsure where to start or progress to? Then take our level test and read our level descriptions for guidance.

Do I receive a qualification or certificate?

At the end of your course you receive a certificate of participation. You will be able to be download it from your MyCactus account. This confirms the language and level of course you have taken. Our course levels are based on two internationally recognised systems. You will have a universally accepted reference for your studies. (Important: Please note that you must complete the end of course questionnaire sent to you to be able to get your certificate! You will receive the course questionnaire by e-mail at the end of your course.)

Do I need a course book?

You will need a course book to attend your course. Course books are not included in the course fees. We recommend that you buy your own course book separately before your course starts. We will let you know which course book you will require and advise where you can purchase this. Please note that a course book often covers more than one level. So if you progress to the next course, you may not necessarily need to buy a new book. Again, we will advise you of this at the time. The course book is chosen by our teachers and academic team. This is based on which book is most suitable for the level of the class whilst offering the most communicative approach.

Still have questions?

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