A friend of mine was recently talking about applying for a new job and one of the requirements was to have English level B2 or higher. But what does that mean? His English is pretty good although he is not a native speaker and I could have written a letter saying that he has that level but I thought it would be better if he did a formal test and obtained a certificate.

The level B2 refers to one of the six levels described in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and you can find descriptions of the levels for self assessment purposes, in various languages, here: https://www.coe.int/en/web/common-european-framework-reference-languages/table-2-cefr-3.3-common-reference-levels-self-assessment-grid

Of course, if you need to achieve a certain level for a job then it might be too late to study and learn enough by the time you send in your application. So, how long does it take to get to B2?

If you currently have level B1, it takes an average of 200+ hours of guided study to improve to the next level and this can be very demotivating as it might seem like a lot, especially as we all live busy lives already. So, what’s the solution?

The best way to achieve your goals is to make a plan. You know the big target but you need to break that down into smaller and more manageable process steps. Break the 200 hours down into classes and study sessions which cover each of the 4 language skills: reading, writing, speaking and listening. The best way to learn is to do something every day, just like learning and practicing playing a musical instrument.

What can you commit to? If you had one class per week for 90 minutes that would total 72 hours within 48 weeks. Two classes per week would achieve the same result in half the time. Add in 90 minutes of private study on 4 days of the week and that’s another 6 hours per week or 144 hours in 24 weeks. It’s a lot of self discipline but it can be reasonably achieved in 6 months with a bit of planning and focus on the goal.

Besides, if it means a better job with more money, providing a better life for you and your family, maybe it isn’t so unreasonable after all.