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Welcome to the Language Level Description page at the International Language Institute (ILI), where we provide a clear roadmap for determining your proficiency level in a language.

What is my language level?

At ILI, we understand that language learning journeys vary, and we prioritize assessing your speaking ability to ensure you’re placed in the right level for your skills.

Our process begins with you reading through the level descriptions and self-placing based on your speaking proficiency. Despite years of language learning experience, we emphasize the importance of verbal communication in determining your level.

If you’re uncertain about your placement, don’t worry; simply reach out to us for a quick informal level check over the phone. Additionally, our teachers conduct informal evaluations on the first day of class, observing your interactions in pairs or groups to confirm that you’re in the appropriate level.

Our goal is to support your language learning journey and ensure you’re positioned for success. Let’s embark on this journey together at ILI.

The 9 Proficiency Levels for Language Classes at ILI

Level 1: Beginner Part 1

If you have little or no background in the target language, this class is for you! Maybe you know a few words, exclamations or short phrases—or maybe not. No worries, at this level, you will learn: the sound system and pronunciation, basic greetings, numbers, telling time, speaking in the present with regular verbs and describing places.

Level 2: Beginner Part 2

Continue to practice building short conversations about daily life, describe people, places and pets, adding grammar, practice speaking in the present and in the future (“going to”) and learn about food and ordering at a restaurant.

Level 3/4: Elementary

Improve your command of the present and future tenses, and expand your proficiency with irregular verbs in the present. Develop skills in expressing preferences and describing the weather, along with an introduction to discussing routines using reflexive verbs. By the end of this course, you will be able to express yourself in the present, the future and immediate past.

Level 5/6 Upper Elementary

Review of the present and future (going to…) and learn how to talk about your life experiences in general as well as what you did with an introduction to the past tense. Also focus on the different types of pronouns that are used with regular verbs, reflexive verbs and direct/indirect objects.

Level 7: Intermediate

Compare some of the various structures used to express yourself in the past tenses. The past tense is usually challenging for many students, so it is common that students take this level a couple of times to work on fluency and accuracy before they move on to the next level. It also reinforces different grammar points from previous levels.

Level 8: Upper Intermediate

Ready to have longer conversations using a mix of present, past and future tenses? Introduction to phrases and grammar to help you express your mood, feelings and opinions with the present subjunctive. You will practice having longer conversations about your life, work, hobbies, interests and opinions.

Level 9: Advanced

Explore more sophisticated grammar structures like past subjunctive, other compound verb tenses and the conditional as you continue to improve your fluency and accuracy of the different verb tenses. A great opportunity to gain confidence in speaking through activities aimed at recreating real world situations for you to respond to in a natural way.

How Long You May Need to Study to Reach Your Language Goals

The answer is not simple, because many factors can affect the rate of your progress, such as:

  • Your study language level at the beginning of your studies.
  • The number of hours in class practicing the language.
  • Your degree of immersion in the language outside of school.
  • Your own learning pace.
  • Your commitment to homework, self-study, and using your study language outside of school.
  • The methodology of student-centered, study language-only instruction in the classroom.
  • Your comfort level with active participation and self-directed, student-centered learning.
  • Your native language. For instance, speakers of languages related to English, such as Spanish or French, tend to progress in English more quickly than speakers of languages unrelated to English, such as Arabic and Chinese.

In our World Language Program, students might choose to repeat a certain level to reinforce their grasp of certain grammar and vocabulary, either because they want to or because their teacher suggests it. When students reach the intermediate level, it’s typical for their progress to slow down a bit and that is considered a normal part of the process of learning a language. We will guide you along the way!

Need help with level placement?

Unsure of the language level you are at? Don’t worry, we are here to help.

Heather Hall smiling

Ask Heather for a language assessment. She will arrange for an instructor to assess you in a 5-minute conversation, and then when you register, we can place you in the class that will be best for you.

If you are a zero-level beginner, you’ll start in our Level 1 class, so no need for an assessment.

What to do next

  1. Read through our level descriptions and choose the one that suits you best
  2. If you are still unsure, request a level check
  3. Then, chose the language you want to learn and register for your chose course!

The ILI Promise

At ILI, we believe that all our actions should stem from grace and loving kindness.

Portrait of Caroline Gear - Executive Director
  • We operate as an equal opportunity organization.
  • We nurture relationships beyond the classroom.
  • We are committed to providing the highest quality language instruction and teacher training.
  • We promote intercultural understanding and celebrate the diversity in our local communities.
  • We work collaboratively to build and sustain the communities we serve.
  • We believe in life-changing teaching and learning.