French English

Mission Wildlife in Indonesia, Copyright Cybelle Planet

Level of English required to participate in an English-speaking mission

Many of our missions take place in non-French speaking countries. In this case the working language is, for practical reasons, English. Many ecovolunteers are wondering before leaving if they will have the level of English necessary to participate in the mission they want to join. We can not answer this question, which remains very relative from one person to another. But to help you better assess your level of English, depending on the needs of each project, we suggest you refer to Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) which has been set up by the European Community which defines the levels of proficiency in a foreign language according to know-how.

Each mission has defined, taking into account the criteria of the CEFR, the minimum level of English required for the contribution of ecovolunteers to be optimal. This level is indicated on the pages of the missions that we propose. The criteria below will allow you to self-assess your level.

Criteria for self-evaluation

A1 - Introductory or Discovery Level

A2 - Intermediate or Survival Level

B1 - Level ThresholdB1 - Threshold Level

B2 - Advanced or Independent Level

C1 - Autonomous level: for regular use in contexts of reasonable difficulty

C2 - Mastery level


A1 - Introductory or Discovery Level

Key words: simple questions, close and familiar environment.

Understand (Listen) : I can understand familiar words and very common expressions about myself, my family and the immediate and concrete environment, if people speak slowly and distinctly.

Understand (Read) : I can understand familiar names, words and very simple sentences, for example in advertisements, posters or catalogs.

Speak (Take part in a conversation) : I can communicate in a simple way, provided that the interlocutor is willing to repeat or rephrase his sentences more slowly and to help me formulate what I am trying to say. I can ask simple questions about familiar topics or what I need immediately, as well as answer such questions.

Speaking (Spoken continuous) : I can use simple phrases and sentences to describe my place of residence and the people I know.

To write : I can write a short simple postcard, for example a holiday. I can carry personal details in a questionnaire, for example, write my name, nationality and address on a hotel card.

A2 - Intermediate or Survival Level

Keywords: descriptions, simple conversations.

Understand (Listen) : I can understand very common expressions and vocabulary related to what concerns me very closely (eg myself, my family, shopping, the close environment, work). I can grasp the essence of announcements and messages simple and clear.

Understand (Read) : I can read very simple short texts. I can find particular information predictable in everyday documents such as small ads, flyers, menus and schedules and I can understand short, simple personal letters.

Speak (Take part in a conversation) : I can communicate in simple, routine tasks that require only simple and direct information exchange on familiar topics and activities. I can have very brief exchanges even if, as a rule, I do not understand enough to continue a conversation.

Speaking (Spoken continuous) : I can use a series of sentences or phrases to describe in simple terms my family and other people, my living conditions, my education and my current or recent professional activity.

To write : I can write notes and messages simple and short. I can write a very simple personal letter, for example thanks.

B1 - Level Threshold

Keywords: beginning of autonomy; to fend for himself, to express his opinion.

Understand (Listen): I can understand the basics when plain and standard language is used and if it is familiar with work, school, hobbies, etc. I can understand the essence of many radio or television programs on the news or on topics that interest me personally or professionally if one speaks in a relatively slow and distinct way.

Understand (Read) : I can understand texts written mainly in a common language or relative to my work. I can understand the description of events, the expression of feelings and wishes in personal letters.

Speak (Take part in a conversation) : I can deal with the majority of situations that can be encountered during a trip to a region where the language is spoken. I can take part unprepared for a conversation about topics that are familiar or of personal interest or that relate to everyday life (eg family, hobbies, work, travel and news).

Speaking (Spoken continuous) : I can articulate expressions in a simple way to tell stories and events, my dreams, my hopes or my goals. I can briefly give the reasons and explanations of my opinions or projects. I can tell a story or the plot of a book or movie and express my reactions.

To write : I can write a simple and coherent text on familiar topics or that interest me personally. I can write personal letters to describe experiences and impressions.

B2 - Advanced or Independent Level

Key Words: common understanding and ability to converse; give an opinion, systematically support an argument.

Understand (Listen) : I can understand lectures and speeches long enough and even follow a complex argument if the subject is relatively familiar to me. I can understand most TV shows on news and information. I can understand most standard language movies.

Understand (Read) : I can read articles and reports on contemporary issues in which the authors adopt a particular attitude or point of view. I can understand a contemporary literary text in prose.

Speak (Take part in a conversation) : I can communicate with a degree of spontaneity and ease that makes possible a normal interaction with a native speaker. I can actively participate in a conversation in familiar situations, present and defend my opinions.

Speaking (Spoken continuous) : I can speak clearly and in detail on a wide range of topics related to my interests. I can develop a point of view on a current topic and explain the advantages and disadvantages of different possibilities.

To write : I can write clear and detailed texts on a wide range of topics related to my interests. I can write an essay or report conveying information or stating reasons for or against a given opinion. I can write letters that highlight the meaning I personally attribute to events and experiences.

C1 - Autonomous level: for regular use in contexts of reasonable difficulty

Key words: express spontaneously and fluently, good enough fluency.

Understand (Listen) : I can understand a long speech even if it is not clearly structured and the joints are only implicit. I can understand TV shows and movies without much effort.

Understand (Read) : I can understand long and complex factual or literary texts and appreciate the differences in style. I can understand specialized articles and long technical instructions even when they are not related to my field.

Speak (Take part in a conversation): I can express myself spontaneously and fluently without seemingly having to look for my words. I can use the language flexibly and effectively for social or professional relationships. I can express my ideas and opinions accurately and link my interventions to those of my interlocutors.

Speaking (Spoken continuous) : I can present clear and detailed descriptions of complex topics, incorporating themes related to them, developing some points and completing my intervention appropriately.

To write : I can express myself in a clear and well structured text and develop my point of view. I can write about complex topics in a letter, essay or report, highlighting points that I think are important. I can adopt a style adapted to the recipient.

C2 - Mastery level

Key words: understand without effort, express yourself spontaneously.

Understand (Listen) : I have no difficulty understanding oral language, whether in live conditions or in the media and when speaking quickly, provided I have time to familiarize myself with a particular accent.

Understand (Read) : I can effortlessly read any type of text, even abstract or complex in substance or form, for example a textbook, a specialized article or a literary work.

Speak (Take part in a conversation) : I can participate effortlessly in any conversation or discussion and I am also very comfortable with idioms and common phrases. I can express myself fluently and accurately express fine nuances of meaning. In case of difficulty, I can go back to remedy it with enough skill and that it goes almost unnoticed.

Speaking (Spoken continuous) : I can present a clear and fluid description or argumentation in a context-appropriate style, construct a presentation in a logical way and help my listener to notice and remember important points.

To write : I can write a clear, fluid and stylistically appropriate text. I can write letters, reports or complex articles, with a clear construction allowing the reader to grasp and memorize important points. I can summarize and criticize in writing a professional work or a literary work.