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Teachers & Learners – Language Levels of Learners

Teachers & Learners – Language Levels of Learners | ITTT | TEFL Blog

A consideration for the categorization of your language learners is actually their language level.

So within any class the language level the students should all have, (assuming that your class is not a mixed ability class) is usually at one particular level.

Typically your students will have had some form of level test to put them into one of the levels and in ESL teaching there are often five different levels of grouping described.

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Level one, the most basic level is called Starter. Moving on from that the Elementary level, the next one beyond that is level three, called the Pre-Intermediate level and then on to the Intermediate level and finally level five, which is called the Upper-Intermediate level.

We can outline some general characteristics of those learners in each of the five levels.

True Starters and False Beginners

Within the starter level there are actually two categories. The first category is called true starters, where they have no experience at all. If you think of a language that you have absolutely no experience in and can't say a single word of, then you are a true starter in that particular class. There's another category within the starter level though, which we call the false beginner. The false beginner has actually had some exposure to the language be it through TV or radio. Perhaps they've met tourists in a particular destination or so on and so forth or they may have been taught this language a long time ago and have not used it for a long time but they're still in the starter level.

Elementary Level

In the next level, the elementary level, they will have a basic knowledge of things like subjects and verbs and a fairly limited vocabulary that will allow them to talk about a limited range of subjects.


Moving on to the next level, the pre-intermediates, they should be able to discuss a number of topics but within those discussions they will still make some basic errors in both language and vocabulary.


In level four or the intermediate students, they should be able to discuss a large range of topics but there will still be some issues in terms of both their fluency and their accuracy

Upper Intermediate

Finally in the upper intermediate grouping, they should be able to discuss virtually anything that you can come up with and they should have a fair deal of fluency, although there still will be some problems with accuracy.

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