How to Test Language Proficiency Level Online

I tested my Swedish and German CEFR levels online in a morning, and how you can do the same for French, Italian, Spanish, German or English

It’s one of those things you put off doing because you don’t want to see the result. But in the spirit of wresting control of my life from dreamer-mode back over to action-mode, I thought it was high-time I found out where I was at. I make a lot of plans to learn various languages, with Irish, Icelandic, Korean, Chinese and Japanese also on the table. Keeping things realistic and obtainable with my limited resources seems the sensible path though. Improving what I already have (Swedish) and considering the closest, most professionally viable cousin to it (German), makes most sense from a next-steps point of view.

As such I took the dw.com placement test for German, to see where I stand and whether it would be worth my time to pursue more German given how knowledge of Swedish seems to actually help out a fair bit. With Swedish and German I figure my way into Danish/Norwegian will be much simpler, albeit indirect.

For Swedish I took the language level test at the folk universitetet website which is all in English. It can be used for each FIGS language, as well as English and Swedish. So, French, Italian, German and Spanish, if not familiar with the acronym. I may be tempted to explore Spanish further in the near future…

Results

German: 70% pass on A1, recommendation to start on A2.

Swedish: C1 for vocab/grammar/reading, B2 for listening, the rest I’d self assessed around B2/C1.

Swedish I’d still consider the weakest of my working languages, with French being the other non-mother tongue. But it is good to know that I’m at least approaching the level of fluency I had hoped for when starting out all those years ago. As with many things, the closer you get to the end the harder it feels. And with how far I have left to go, it does seem like another big effort is required. On the other hand a lot of groundwork is done now and if it’s mainly a case of adding higher-level or subject-specific vocabulary, as well as some grammatical finessing, I can live with that. I can start to plan. As for the results, probably as expected, as I spend a lot of time reading Swedish but less time listening. I try to get a news broadcast or two in a week but at least with reading you have time to study words in context and “replay” sentences as you re-read them. Not always the case with audio or live conversation. More exposure required.

One thing of note on the FU test site, is that you start by self-assessing your level, then it adjusts based on your responses. I wonder if I didn’t give an accurate enough self-assessment at B2 for most things, and whether I missed out on a chance for C2 grades by it testing me at C1, or whether it would have notched up to C2 if my performance on C1 was better. Worth bearing in mind if you do the tests.

German I have an interest in for historical, professional and personal reasons. I also like the idea of German opening roads into Dutch a little more, as well as it being the “mother” Germanic language. But as it stands, I’d imagine a year of self-study could get me into the B2 area. It does feel like Swedish gives you a big leg up as so many words are more or less the same in usage and formulation. This could end up being a stumbling block for speaking and writing as things can get confused, but generally it does feel like a helping hand into meaning and grammar that I didn’t have before. What I probably need to tackle head on first is the case system in German. If I can get that 70-80% understood and operational I’d feel much more confident in moving on to higher levels.

Plan for further study

So there we have it. Time to make a plan!

I’ll continue consuming Swedish and German media (news, series) as well as doing my Swedish translation work, knowing now what I have to do to push through to C2 and A2 respectively. The top five next steps for my language study should be:

  • Work through the B2/C1 Rivstart book
  • Take the dw.com coursework for A2 and above
  • Read around and watch videos on the German case system
  • Seek out higher-level Swedish material: research studies, political works, debates
  • Seek out fast-paced and lively natural discussion with subtitles in both

Hopefully this time next year I can report back with improvements in both. It’s surprisingly reassuring to use this testing to accelerate progress and to switch from the passive learning I’ve done over the last 5-10 years to something much more active.

I’m active enough on Twitter if you’d like to share your results or write a post of your own, I’m happy to share it etc.

Happy studying!

Published by and tagged translation and writing using 821 words.

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