by Aggie Chapman
How do we know that we are at the B2 level? Well, two things may give us a hint: we are able to say pretty much what we want to say, and what we say or write doesn’t raise eyebrows, as even when we make mistakes, it’s still clear what we’re trying to say. Things like weighing up the pros and cons are well within our abilities, as is signalling the difference between facts and opinions.
There is a wide range of topics that are considered to be familiar to us. These we can discuss at length, using a variety of simple and more complex vocabulary and grammatical structures. We are even able to adjust our language when communicating with somebody whose level is lower than ours or rephrase what we want to say in order to avoid using structures we’re not fully comfortable with. Our speech is quite well organised and structured, we rarely hesitate, and even then, it’s mostly for the lack of ideas rather than words to express, unless the topic is more abstract or specialist.
We are aware of formal and informal register – we use different language to communicate with friends and with people we don’t know, in official situations. Our language level is sufficient to start dealing with specialist materials such as industry-specific or academic articles, though we probably resort to using a dictionary at least a bit then. Not to mention that we are ready to read fiction – if you haven’t read your first book in English yet, it’s high time to do so!
Watching films and TV series is no problem, the speech doesn’t have to be slow for us anymore and the presence of a few different, yet not too strong, regional accents doesn’t bother us too much. Background noises? No problem, either. Even if we don’t understand everything, especially things like colloquial speech, slang or cultural references, we can easily follow the plot, laugh at jokes and probably learn a few new things in the process.
We have quite a bit of control over our pronunciation – we know how to pronounce words, and place stress in the sentence. We can also use stress to highlight what is important in our speech. While it is not error free, it definitely bears fewer features of our mother tongue.
We can also produce are a range of written texts such as emails, letters, stories, as well as articles or even essays. We can structure them well and organise into paragraphs of suitable length and connect these with a selection of connecting words and phrases so as our text has a good flow. What we write does tend to be quite short, but we can communicate two or three key ideas in one piece.
On completion of the level we can take a B2 exam which tests all our language skills and opens doors at some universities in English speaking countries or the countries where universities open an option of studying in English. The Cambridge First exam is perhaps the most famous B2 exam, though there are other options such as BEC.