The levels of knowledge of a foreign language are defined internationally by the CEFR – Common European Framework of Reference for the Knowledge of Foreign Languages. Within this framework, there are six Italian language levels: from level A1 (absolute beginner) to level C2 (mastery).Before discussing how to move from one level to another, we must cover what is expected for each of them.
Levels of knowledge of Italian
Level A corresponds to the most basic language knowledge and level C to the most advanced:
- Level A1 provides the ability to construct the simplest sentences, the knowledge of grammar basics, the ability to understand an interlocutor in a simple conversation
- Level A2 provides the ability to sustain a simple conversation, to talk about oneself, family, work, hobbies, and the ability to describe everyday situations
- Level B1 provides the ability to communicate on any topic, make detailed descriptions, enrich discussion with interlocutors, talk about feelings, describe emotions, and use more complex constructions. Achieving this level of knowledge of Italian allows you to read simple books in the original language and watch TV programs without subtitles
- Level B2 is characterized by a discursive and spontaneous discourse that does not need preliminary mental preparation. With such a level of mastery of Italian, you can read more advanced literary texts
- Level C1 is characterized by the use of complex synonyms, professional jargon, or other semantic areas, as well as idiomatic expressions, rarer forms, and expressions. This knowledge already allows you to teach Italian abroad
- Level C2 corresponds to total mastery, similar to the language abilities of a native speaker.
If you have doubts about your level of knowledge of Italian, you can take an evaluation test. Today there are many specialized resources online and, of course, in a language school.
Now that it is clear what skills are expected for each level, let’s talk about how to progress from one to the other.
The first steps towards the A2 level
As a rule, the first steps in learning Italian are simple. Italian is characterized by relative simplicity, so students starting from an A1 level (absolute beginners) tend to make rapid progress. However, with inadequate instruction, you may never be able to get to the A2 level, even after many years of study.
It is therefore important that, from the very beginning, you:
- Have the right attitude
- Use the language regularly
- Attend an accredited school with competent teachers.
If these conditions are met, it is possible to reach the A2 level in a few months if you study in Italy in an intensive course, and in about a year if you study elsewhere in a non-intensive course (once/twice per week)
How to reach level B1
Here the path becomes more complex. Starting from level B1, the language learning speed decreases, especially if you are not fully immersed in in the linguistic context where the language is spoken—i.e. in Italy. In this phase, progress feels slower because you enter a phase of consolidation of linguistic knowledge. It is therefore important to stay motivated and continue dedicating time and energy to the study of Italian.
The best option would be to attend an Italian school in Italy to fully immerse yourself in the linguistic context. If this option is not possible, try to find different forms of language engagement to supplement your learning:
- Listen to music in Italian
- Read books in Italian that you find interesting
- Watch movies with Italian subtitles
Gradually, the complexities and difficulties will vanish and you will get closer to a C1 level. How long it will take varies from person to person. It certainly depends on the quantity and quality of your exposure to Italian. And, of course, attending Italian courses in Italy will make the process much faster than if you were to study on your own. Another element to keep in mind is your natural propensity for language learning.
Final steps to reaching level C2
After you have achieved the C1 level, you just have to perfect your skills, learn more lexical nuances, learn more about the history of the language, deal with more complex syntaxes, more rare idiomatic expressions, language manipulation, and different language registers. This will help you read Italian literature with ease and to communicate comfortably and naturally with native Italians on a variety of complex topics.
A good exercise can be to keep a diary or a blog, and of course to attend courses at an advanced level. The main thing is, however, to maintain continuous contact with Italian, exposing yourself to different media in the target language.
Whatever your level of Italian is at this moment, studying at the Italian language and culture center Babilonia will help you improve in a short time because the goal of all our courses, at all levels, is communication and real competence in Italian. Learning Italian in Italy will not only be effective but also very enjoyable