The German Language Levels | SmarterGerman (2023)

Are you studying German and you’re wondering how long it will take to master each level of the German language?

Whenever you come across a discussion about learning German online, you usually see people mentioning German language levels and referring to them with letters and numbers (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2).

In this guide, I will walk you through each of the German language levels, explain how long you might need to reach them, provide resources to help you get there, and describe how proficient in German you’ll be once you’re there.

CEFR Levels

Every letter and number combo is a CEFR level. And your CEFR level decides how well you speak German. CEFR is short for the “Common European Reference Framework”, which is a system used in Europe to make language learning and assessment easier.

If you’re wondering how long learning German will take you, understanding the CEFR levels is crucial. And knowing your current CEFR level is the first step to figuring out how much resources and time you will need to snag that job opportunity with a certain CEFR level as a requirement.

So let’s start with the basic question:

How many German language levels are there?

The German language has 6 CEFR levels – starting with A1 (absolute beginner), and ending with C2 (completely fluent). And in this table you will see each level explained in detail.

The A Levels: Beginners

LevelDescriptionCourses & Resources
  • At this level you will be able to
    use everyday expressions and form simple sentences that are
    related to everyday life (like asking for water).
  • You will also be able to introduce yourself, state where you
    come from and ask other people for similar information.
  • You can comprehend what other people are saying at this
    level as long as they speak slowly and use simple words.
A1-B1 Beginners Bundle

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  • At the A2 level you begin
    understanding frequently used expressions that are related
    to a wider variety of topics as long as they are of
    immediate importance (like work, the environment around you
    and shopping).
  • Communicating in routine
    situations and exchanging familiar information will also be
    easier at this level.
  • A2 German speakers can
    describe their origin, education and other common attributes
    about their person or their past.
A1-B1 Beginners Bundle

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A Levels: Recap

  • These first two German language levels are very elementary, and they’re the bare minimum needed for communication.
  • Reaching the A1 level (from a point of no previous knowledge of a particular language) has been estimated to take between 60 – 80 hours of instruction by both Deutsche Welle and Alliance Française.
  • While there are many different ways to start learning German, I’ve found that the most effective way is through online courses with a community. Smarter German offers exactly that with the A1 Beginner’s German and A2 Elementary German Courses.

The B Levels: Conversational

LevelDescriptionCourses & Resources
  • B1 German speakers have no problem
    understanding the main points of a conversation when
    standard German is used, especially when the topic
    something familiar like school or work.
  • If you
    reach this level, you can rest assured that you can
    most of the travel situations you will face if you
    go to
  • At B1, you will be
    able to talk
    about your interests and areas of expertise.
  • B1
    speakers can talk about the past, describe their day
    their dreams, make plans and explain familiar
B1 Exam PreparationA1-B1 Beginners Bundle
  • At this level, you will start
    understanding the main ideas in complex texts
    involving both
    abstract and concrete topics.
  • If you are a
    specialist in a certain area, at B2 you will
    have the
    ability to easily discuss topics within your
  • B2 speakers can carry fluent conversations with
    speakers with neither side having to speak
    slowly or use
    simple words.
  • If you reach B2,
    you will be able to
    express yourself in detail and with a wide range
    expressions, give your opinions on things and
    discuss the
    advantages and disadvantages of different
B2 Upper-Intermediate German

B Levels: Recap

  • The B levels in the German language is when you really start to use the language independently, requiring little to no help in keeping the conversation going.
  • The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) suggests that you need about 750 hours to get to the B2 level.
  • Don’t let that number scare you, because Smarter German has made reaching these levels easier than ever with two powerful courses:
    • The first one is designed to get you there as fast as possible by focusing on the B1 German exam (B1 Exam Preparation)
    • The second one will help you elevate your German speaking abilities to the next level with maximum effectiveness (B2 Upper-Intermediate German)

The C Levels: Fluency

LevelDescriptionCourses & Resources
  • At this point, you will be
    able to understand a wide range of texts with demanding
    concepts and implied meanings.
  • C1 speakers
    almost never need to search for a simple word to express
    their ideas.
  • At C1, you will be able to use
    German effectively in your social, academic and
    professional life. You will also be able to express your
    thoughts eloquently and use different ways to link ideas
    together appropriately.
C1 Advanced German
  • The last of the German
    language levels means that you can understand basically
    anything you read or hear.
  • You will have the
    ability to summarize long texts and condense complex
    ideas in order to explain them to other people.
  • C2 speakers express their thoughts in a very precise and
    nuanced manner no matter how complex these thoughts may

C Levels: Recap

  • The C levels are as competent as you can get in German. And it’s difficult to say how long you’re gonna need to get there, since it depends on how often you use the language. The Goethe Institut says you need to have studied German for at least 750 hours to get to this point. But realistically, it might take you up to 3 years to reach the C2 level.
  • You shouldn’t feel discouraged if you feel like the C2 level is out of your reach, since even native Germans struggle with reaching this level. But with frequent and correct learning and practice, you will definitely arrive at your German speaking goals.
  • Smarter German offers you the C1 Advanced German Course that will make reaching the C1 level infinitely easier.

How do I know which level I’m at?

You might have this question on your mind if you’re already learning German. The above table can give a rough idea of where you fit among the 6 German language levels, but the most accurate way to assess your level is by taking an exam.

The TestDaF (Test Deutsch auf Fremdsprache) corresponds loosely to the CERF levels of B2 and C1, as the test is meant to tell whether a student has the German language skills needed for academic study in Germany, and so it is not suited for beginners. Meanwhile, the Goethe-Institut has adapted their certificates and levels to match the CERF levels.

With all the different levels and assessments involved, German has a bad reputation for being difficult. Many people are too scared of taking the first step. But with my Everyday German Course, you will rediscover the joy and happiness of learning a new language.

If you have any questions on any of the German language levels, let me know in the comments below.


The German Language Levels | SmarterGerman? ›

C1 level German is considered advanced and shows the holder has full control of German grammar and vocabulary. The only higher CEFR level is C2, which even native German speakers can struggle to reach.

Is C1 German enough? ›

C1 level German is considered advanced and shows the holder has full control of German grammar and vocabulary. The only higher CEFR level is C2, which even native German speakers can struggle to reach.

Is German A1 enough? ›

Levels A1 and A2: These levels provide you with basic knowledge of the German language. If you have no previous knowledge, attending an A1 course is highly recommended. Levels B1 and B2: Here is where you will learn German at an advanced level.

How fluent is B2 German? ›

Is B2 German Considered Fluent? It's generally considered that reaching B2 is having basic fluency. You'll have a vocabulary of about 4000 words.

What level of German is considered fluent? ›

The German language has 6 CEFR levels – starting with A1 (absolute beginner), and ending with C2 (completely fluent).

Is C1 considered fluent? ›


He/she can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for the right expression. He/she can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

Can you reach C1 in German in 1 year? ›

You can definitely and easily reach C1 level within a time frame of 1 year. I completed A1- B1 level in 4 months(4 hours of German class, five days a week). I used to revise the grammar chapters on regular basis, as it would be much easier to build up new sentences. I also used to read some books and online material.

How difficult is B1 German? ›

The B1 level is the most difficult because of the lot of grammar and vocabulary knowledge that you need to grasp. No matter, how difficult or lengthy it looks, learn things slowly and reinforce all you have done as you may go through.

How long does it take to learn German from A1 to C1? ›

How long does it take to learn German?
Assess your current level & test your German online!Intensive course (20 lessons/week)
A1beginner8 weeks
A2elementary8 weeks
B1intermediate8 weeks
B2upper intermediate10 weeks*
2 more rows

How long does it take from A1 to A2 German? ›

German has different levels from A1 to C2. Basic A1 to A2 – Attending an Intensive course takes A1 in around 60 hours and A2 in 120 hours. Intermediate B1 to B2 – German level B1 takes 200 hours and B2 takes approximately 300 hours to become fluent.

Can you reach B2 German in 1 year? ›

Even though most of them learn relatively fast and achieve B1/B2 level in about 12 months, just a few of them get to B2 level in 4-8 months.

How difficult is C1 German? ›

The Level C1 in German requires a very high language level and is therefore correspondingly difficult. For many students, the C1 level in German is a great challenge. However, there are also many resources to prepare for the exam. With the right motivation and the will to pass the exam, anyone can pass the C1 level!

Is B2 German enough to get a job? ›

If you´d like to work in Germany you´ll get by if your German is on level B1/B2 (online test). The certificate issued by GLS is recognized by many employers and even some universities in Germany.

How long does it take to get B1 German? ›

The German B1 level, also known as the intermediate level, It will take you at least 80 hours per week (a total of 4 weeks) to finish your German B1. According to Goeth Institut, you'll take at least 350 and 650 45-minute units of teaching depending on what you have retained from your previous A1 to A2 level.

How long will it take to speak German fluently? ›

According to the U.S. Foreign Service Institute (FSI), you'll need about 750 hours of study to become fluent in German. This means that if you study 12-15 hours a week, you'll be able to speak like a pro in just a year!

What level of fluency is duolingo German? ›

At Duolingo, we're developing our courses to get you to a level called B2, at which you can get a job in the language you're studying. Reaching that kind of proficiency requires dedication, varied practice opportunities, and a lot of time.

Is C1 considered native? ›

A C1 level of English allows for a full range of functionality at work or in an academic setting. The C1 level would allow for full autonomy in a native English-speaking country.

Are native speakers C2 or C1? ›

A well-educated native English speaker is technically at a C2 level. Relatively few English learners reach this level because their professional or academic goals do not require it.

Is B2 good enough? ›

Level B2 corresponds to a more advanced, more independent level than previous levels. A B2 user can communicate easily and spontaneously in a clear and detailed manner. This is not yet an experienced speaker, but a B2 user is able to understand and be understood in most situations.

Can I learn C1 German on my own? ›

Having learned 3 languages to fluency myself through self study, I know the answer is YES. Provided that you are a passionate language learner and also live at least 2 years in a German speaking country then C1 Level is absolutely realistic to achieve.

Is German B2 difficult? ›

How hard is B2 level German? The German language is complex yet highly systematic. For a systematic language, you need a systematic course structure though. If the course material you are using has a thought-out structure, then it shouldn't be difficult.

How much time i need from B2 to C1? ›

How long does it take to learn English?
Level of English (CEFR)Number of hours of instruction
A2 to B1300 hours
B1 to B2200 hours
B2 to C1200 hours
C1 to C2200 hours
2 more rows
Jan 25, 2019

Is B1 enough to get a job in Germany? ›

You will also need a minimum Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) level B1 German to obtain a job-seeker's visa in Germany. For work and freelance visas, there is generally no designated German language requirement.

Is B1 level German enough? ›

The third level in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages is level B1. It is definitely a step beyond the A1 and A2 exams. Passing a level B1 exam means that you are entering the intermediate level of your journey through the German language.

What is the hardest German language exam? ›

Going Toe-to-toe with the Goethe Zertifikat

If the TestDaF is the academic German level test, then the Goethe Zertifikat is the all-around one. It's by far the most famous test of the German language and is accepted by everybody who needs any kind of proof of German ability.

How many words required for C1 German? ›

How Many Words You Should Know (for Every Language Level)
Language LevelNumber of Base Words Needed
2 more rows

How many words should I know for C1 German? ›

If you want to reach C1 level of proficiency in German, you'll need an active vocabulary of at least 5,000 words. Don't worry, our advanced German vocabulary lists are not that long.

How hard is the German A1 test? ›

The A1 test isn't to be taken lightly, but it's not impossible either. It's a very basic test, and it's not designed to throw any curveballs at you. If you go about things intelligently, you can pass this test and not have to worry about it ever again.

Is C1 fluent or bilingual? ›

C1 is synonymous with business fluent language skills. C2 is synonymous with (almost) native language level.

How hard is C1 level German? ›

The Level C1 in German requires a very high language level and is therefore correspondingly difficult. For many students, the C1 level in German is a great challenge. However, there are also many resources to prepare for the exam. With the right motivation and the will to pass the exam, anyone can pass the C1 level!

How hard is it to get C1 German? ›

There's no doubt that the C1 exam is difficult, but it's certainly not impossible. I'm someone who still makes grammar mistakes more frequently than I'd like, sometimes uses the wrong words and can't always find the right vocabulary, but, thanks to some good preparation, I managed to pass.

What is C1 German equivalent to? ›

C1 – Advanced - German Proficient level
TopicsRate of Speech
The same topics as Level B2 plus the ability to speak on completely new topics spontaneously Understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts and also grasp implicit meanings140 WPM or less


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