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The levels explained

The different levels at Dutch Academy are related to the European framework of language ability.

First, the CEFR levels are explained. 

Or go straight to description of the levels and course goals at Dutch Academy.


The Netherlands uses the CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference for Languages) to describe language ability. It uses a six-point scale, from A1 for beginners, up to C2 for those who have mastered a language. 

However, the steps between the levels are not equal. The corresponding vocabulary knowledge illustrates this: level A1: 1000 words, level A2: 2000 words, level B1: 5000 words, level B2: 10000 words. So it takes more time to go from A2 to B1 than from A1 to A2, which is why the advanced level (B1) consists of four courses. 

If you would like to take a test to prove your Dutch skills, it will be measured in CEFR levels. The CNaVT (Certificate Dutch as a Foreign Language) designs these yearly exams, and Dutch Academy is an official examiner of the CNaVT.


The courses at Dutch Academy are therefore based onto the CEFR and will help you reach your desired level.

The CEFR level overview

This is an overview of the CEFR levels, sourced from the official translations of the Council of Europe.

Proficient user


  • Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read.

  • Can summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts in a coherent presentation.

  • Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.



  • Can understand a wide range of demanding, longer texts, and recognize implicit meaning.

  • Can express him/herself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions.

  • Can use language flexibly and effectively for social, academic and professional purposes.

  • Can produce clear, well-structured, detailed text on complex subjects, showing controlled use of organizational patterns, connectors and cohesive devices.


Independent user


  • Can understand the main ideas of complex text on both concrete and abstract topics, including technical discussions in his/her field of specialization.

  • Can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible without strain for either party.

  • Can produce clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects and explain a viewpoint on a topical issue giving the advantages and disadvantages of various options.



  • Can understand the main points of clear standard input on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.

  • Can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken.

  • Can produce simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest.

  • Can describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes & ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.


Basic user


  • Can understand sentences and frequently used expressions related to areas of most immediate relevance (e.g., very basic personal and family information, shopping, local geography, employment).

  • Can communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar and routine matters.

  • Can describe in simple terms aspects of his/her background, immediate environment and matters in areas of immediate need.



  • Can understand and use familiar everyday expressions and basic phrases aimed at the satisfaction of needs of a concrete type.

  • Can introduce him/herself and others and can ask and answer questions about personal details such as where he/she lives, people he/she knows and things he/she has.

  • Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.

Why four courses?

Levels at Dutch Academy

The courses at Dutch Academy are based on the CEFR.


There are three levels of group courses:

  • The beginner courses have a target level of A1.

  • The intermediate courses have a target level of A2.

  • The advanced courses have a target level of B1.

After reaching Level B1, you can continue with private lessons to reach level B2. At this level, it’s not about learning new topics. It’s all about applying well what you learned and expanding your vocabulary and language knowledge around specific topics. To reach B2, it is best if you practice speaking with native or

C1/C2 level speakers.

Below is an overview of the objectives of all the levels (A1 to B2) taught at Dutch Academy.

Not sure which level fits you best? Get in touch!

Beginner: target level A1

In the beginner courses you will build the foundations for ​speaking, listening, reading and writing in Dutch.

You will learn:


  • 1000 most common words in Dutch


Basic grammar

  • Conjugation of verbs: present tense (presens) of regular, irregular and modal verbs, imperative (imperatief), present perfect (perfectum)

  • Sentence structures: main clause word order (hoofdzin), structure of questions (vraagzin), inversion word order (inversie), use of conjunctions, imperative (imperatief).

  • Pronouns: subject and object pronouns

  • Plural nouns

  • Telling time

  • Adjectives, comparatives, superlatives, behaviour of adjectives with de/het words

  • Diminutive (dimunitief)


Basic skills

At the end of the beginner's courses, you can…

  • … have a conversation where you greet someone, introduce yourself, introduce someone else, make an appointment, and say goodbye.

  • … order in a restaurant, go shopping at a market, supermarket and clothing store, and instruct someone to cook a dish.

  • ​… talk about your day, ask and give directions, go to a family party, go to the municipality, and go to the doctor.

Intermediate: target level A2

In the intermediate courses you will expand your knowledge and skills by practicing with more complex sentences and situations. The main objective of the intermediate level (A2) is to apply the learned grammar in speech.  


Required prior knowledge:

  • 750-1000 most common words in Dutch

  • The basic grammar elements (see previous level)

  • The basic skills (see previous level)

  • Between 60-100 hrs of studying


You will learn:


  • 1500-2000 words

  • Common Dutch expressions


Intermediate grammar

  • Verbs: the regular and irregular present perfect (perfectum), regular and irregular simple past (imperfectum), separable verbs, reflexive verbs, the formal imperative, the prefix position of separable verbs, use the simple past of ‘shall’ as a friendly request, position verbs + te + infinitive, verbs + om + te + infinitive, aan het + infinitive, and verbs and prepositions.

  • Sentence structures: conjunctions, the subordinate clause (bijzin), the position of adjectives in sentences and when to add an -e.

  • Reference words and pronouns

  • Adverbs  

  • Negations

Intermediate skills

At the end of the intermediate courses, you can...

  • … talk about activities in the past, give your opinion, talk about the position of people and objects, have a conversation in a clothing store, describe people and objects, talk about your education and work experience, and organize a party.

  • … describe how you live, explain your choices, ask and accept help, understand information in public transport, explain why you are late (and think of excuses), talk about the news, evaluate a conversation or event, and quickly explain emergency situations.

  • … talk about post secondary education, describe people, objects and situations, write formal and informal letters, talk about medical issues, understand instructions on medication manuals, understand information on company invoices, and give arguments for your point of view. 

Advanced: target level B1

In the advanced courses you will refine your speaking, listening, reading and writing skills in various challenging situations.

Required prior knowledge:

  • Know 1500-2000 words

  • Intermediate grammar

  • Intermediate skills

  • Around 300 hrs of studying


The main objectives of this level:

  • At level B1, you know how to apply all basic grammar (as specified for the previous levels) actively in speech.

  • You are able to quickly construct sentences (without thinking) and can say things in different ways (although: there can still some mistakes in speaking).

  • Typically, the student on this level has reviewed the vocabulary and grammar of the previous levels several times. The knowledge has reached the ‘long term’ memory.

  • And preferably, the student has speaking experience in a Dutch speaking environment.


  • 5000 words

  • Common expressions


Advanced grammar

  • Verbs: reflexive verbs, the different uses of zullen, understanding the passive voice (passivum), use zijn as an auxiliary verb (hulp verbum) in the perfect tense (perfectum), fluent in the different verb times (presens, perfectum, imperfectum).

  • Sentence structures: indirecte vraagzinnen met ‘of’, indirecte vraagzinnen met een vraagwoord, bijzin voor de hoofdzin, als-dan-zinnen, sentences with dat/of, and indirect constructions with vraagwoorden.

  • Advanced adjective conjugation

  • The position of er

  • De or het

  • Advanced adjectives, comparatives and superlatives (with or without -e)

  • How to structure your story


Advanced skills

At the end of the advanced courses, you can...

  • … describe past experiences, talk about your future plans, talk about your lifestyle, compare old and new habits, and write a detailed text about someone’s life.

  • … have a formal job interview, give and understand instructions and advice, explain your job responsibilities, and train a new colleague.

  • … give your opinion about cities and countries, understand important information of municipalities, understand public announcements, recognize and talk about cause and effect, explain difficult situations, and ask for information.

  • … quickly distinguish facts from opinions in texts, describe your experiences in a country, compare information, determine the subject of long news items, understand simple statistical information, describe simple statistical figures, explain the essence in simple statistical figures, be part in a discussion, and perform a monologue.


Professional: target level B2

After reaching level B1, you can continue with private lessons at Dutch Academy to reach level B2. During lessons we will practice B2 exams, learn a lot of vocabulary, and practice speaking using a large variety of topics.

Required prior knowledge:

  • 5000 words

  • Preferably some experience speaking in a Dutch environment

  • Significant amount of speaking experience


You will learn:


  • 10,000 words


Professional grammar:

  • At this level, it’s not about learning new grammar. It’s all about applying well what you learned. And we’ll cover lots of different themes during private lessons to build your vocabulary and language knowledge around specific topics.


Professional skills:

  • In order to reach B2 level you need a lot of real-life speaking experience (preferably 3-6 months speaking Dutch full time in a Dutch environment from the moment you reached B1 level). 

Not sure which level fits you best? Get in touch!

Interested in taking an exam? Learn more here

Levels at Dutch Academy
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