Why is it important to know the German language levels and how to reach them? Here is an article with all German language levels explained.

Key takeaways

This article will help you understand the differences between the German language levels. You will also learn what it takes to reach a new level and how long it might take you to get there. The article covers the basic levels A1 and A2, which are the bare minimum to get along in Germany based on my experience.

By reaching the independent user levels B1 and B2, you can also have more fluent conversations in your daily life and business. Last but not least, I will also cover the proficient user levels based on the Goethe Institut tests C1 and C2.

From my experience, it should be your goal to reach at least the German language level C1 so that you are well equipped for work.

What are the different levels of the German language? 

Before I dig deeper into each level in the rest of this article, let me begin explaining the different German language levels to you. The levels are there to sort your German knowledge into one of the three broader levels: primary user, independent user, and proficient user.

The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) defined the levels. Primary users are in A1 or A2, independent users in B1 or B2, and proficient users in C1 or C2. The higher the number and letter combination, the better your German. 

Sometimes the CEFR is also referred to as GERS (Gemeinsamer Europäischer Referenzrahmen für Sprachen). So let me give you an overview of the requirements to reach each level and answer a few questions in the following chapters.

A1 German language level explained

German Language Levels Explained: A1 level in German

The German language level A1 means that you can only communicate familiar topics. The people you talk to need to speak slowly and clearly to you so that you can understand them. You should also be able to have short conversations about everyday situations.

Is A1 in German easy to reach?

Based on my experience, you will need about 70 to 90 hours of lessons to get to language level A1 in German. The A1 and A2 levels are very elementary, and the minimum to have a conversation. You can reach the A1 level with zero knowledge within that timeframe.

A2 level in German

German Language Levels Explained: A2 level in German

Now, others can understand when you talk about routine situations at that level. In addition to that, you can ask and answer questions about familiar topics.

Is A2 in German easy to reach?

With roughly eight weeks of intense training and 20 lessons per week, you can advance to the German language level A2. If you put some effort into it, I’d say that level A2 is easy to reach.

B1 German language level

German Language Levels Explained: B1 level in German

Your German made tremendous progress as soon as you reached the intermediate level. You can express yourself when it comes to plans and other experiences. In addition, you can justify decisions and almost effortlessly follow a conversation around familiar topics or common themes. Those can be work, travel, school, or leisure.

How difficult is B1 in German to reach?

As soon as you reach level A2 in German, it would help if you learned more about grammar and vocabulary. Based on my experience, the leap between A2 and B1 is big, and your German will improve significantly. Based on that, it’s not as easy as moving from German language level A1 to A2.

How long does it take to get to B1 in German?

If you continue your intense training of about 20 lessons per week, it may take up to ten weeks to reach that level. That also depends on how good your teachers are.

B2 in German language

German Language Levels Explained: B2 level in German

The B2 German language level is another huge step forward. You can now understand the critical parts in complex texts, even in abstract topics. In addition, you can communicate clearly and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various positions and options.

How long do I need to get the B2 in German?

Beginning from B1, it may take another ten weeks of intense training to reach the German language level B2. What made a big difference for me was the daily communication with my coworkers and friends. I learned many colloquial language terms or “Umgangssprache” thanks to this daily practice.

Is B2 level in German enough to study in Germany?

Studying can be challenging, especially if the courses are in German only. One of my friends who moved to Germany with his son, who had reached the German language level B2, told me he struggled a lot during his first few years at university. So I would answer that question with a no. 

Is B2 level in German enough to work in Germany?

By reaching the B2 language level in German, you can start working. Depending on the profession you are working in, this can be the bare minimum to get a position.

If you have a higher qualification like a bachelor’s or master’s degree and consider working in a better position, I recommend putting more time into learning German properly. Your next goal should be to reach the C1 level at least.

Is B2 German fluent?

The German language level B2 based on the CEFR rating is almost fluent. But in everyday situations, it is eloquent. Still, you won’t be able to understand longer and more challenging conversations, which might require some thinking before you can answer.

C1 level in German

German Language Levels Explained: C1 level in German

The German language level C1 is the first essential level you should have when you consider working in Germany from my own experience. You are now an advanced student by reaching the C1 language level in German.

From now on, the texts you understand can be longer and more challenging. You are also able to grasp implicit meanings. Additionally, you can now have spontaneous conversations without any problems. Whether you talk about private or professional matters, you no longer have any difficulties.

Why is it essential to have a C1 level in German?

By reaching a C1 level in German, you are ready for business life in Germany. 

Is C1 in German fluent?

The German language level C1 is almost fluent. People will still recognize that you are not a native German. On the other hand, you can have more or less fluent conversations without too many difficulties about almost any topic.

C2 German language level explained

German Language Levels Explained: C2 level in German

Congratulations! Now you’ve reached your final level of the German language levels based on the GER rating system. You can effortlessly understand everything you hear or read. When you express yourself about any topic, you no longer make any noticeable or significant grammar errors.

Is C2 in German the highest language proficiency?

Yes, it’s the highest level in the GERS or CEFR rating that you can officially achieve. You may consider taking the Goethe-Test PRO for the C2 level, specifically for professionals and business people.

Why should I get C2 in German?

By reaching the German language level C2, you gained near-native mastery of Germany by non-native speakers. This especially comes handy if you want to study, research, or work in Germany.

How long does it take from A1 to C2 in German?

First, let me consider that you have enough time to take an intensive course in German with at least 20 lessons per week. Reaching levels C1 and C2 in German highly depends on your time and efforts. From my experience, I can tell you that it will take you at least 34 weeks to get from level A1 to B2. I estimate it will at least take another year of intense learning to reach C2 in German.

Conclusion

I hope I explained the German language levels well enough, making them easy to understand. Your final goal should be reaching at least the German language levels B2 or C1. 


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About the Author

Alex

Alex works in product management and has been living in Germany for more than 12 years. He has been speaking German for more than 22 years. His passion is to help people, who want to live a good life in a German speaking country, to learn German super fast. Want to connect with him? Send him an email and he'll get in touch with you.

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