What is my language level?

You’re intending to enrol on a modern language course and aren’t sure about your language level. The notes below offer guidance to help you make the right decision.

Our courses put the emphasis on speaking, listening and improving understanding. There are four levels to enable progression:

  • Beginner
  • Beginner 2
  • Post Beginner
  • intermediate
  • Advanced 

Read below for details of the levels. For more information about which level of course to enrol for, refer to the detailed course description on the website.

Good luck with your course!


Most beginners already know a few words or phrases of the language they’re interested in, but have no knowledge of how that language works – don’t know how to ask questions, don’t know how to answer them, know virtually nothing of pronunciation and can’t read the language in any meaningful way.

If you recognise yourself in that description the Beginners course is for you. And even if you don’t know how to use 'bonjour' in French or 'ciao' in Italian, Beginners is for you.

Beginner 2

Beginner 2 courses are usually offered in the January programme. They are essentially the second part of a ten week beginners course, building on what has already been learned in courses which have come to an end at Christmas.

You should only enrol for a Beginners 2 course if you’ve learned

  • basic vocabulary – days of the week, numbers, greetings, common expressions relating to travel, ordering a meal, giving and taking directions, asking questions etc.
  • common phrases in everyday use
  • how to ask very simple questions and understand simple answers.

Post Beginners

Ideally, you’ve completed a Beginners course on the Adult Education Programme. Or you may have spent some time in the country where the target language is spoken, have studied it at school, or picked up many of the essentials of the language through Edinburgh friends whose mother tongue is the language to be studied. What post beginners have in common is a basic understanding of the language, but little confidence in their performance and a recognition that they need guidance and practice to progress effectively.

Post Beginners have:

  • vocabulary relating to everyday situations
  • a range of common phrases and expressions
  • a basic knowledge of the most commonly used grammatical structures


If you’ve lived in the country where the language is spoken, or have studied it in more depth at school it’s likely that the intermediate course is for you. The course concentrates on authentic situations, dialogues and documentary materials such as newspapers and magazines. Tutors will also explain some of the more challenging grammatical structures in common use and generally encourage fluency.

You should enrol for the intermediate course if you are already

  • competent in the basics of the language
  • able to sustain simple conversations
  • able to understand simple passages, but not complete, newspaper articles.


There are a few advanced courses on the programme for the languages which are most popular with our students.

You should enrol for an advanced course if you are fluent in the language but would like to practise, maintain and develop your fluency.

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