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I recently completed A1 level, and I'm wondering what I can expect from myself at this stage and in future levels.

Currently, I can make some simple sentences, but I often find myself mentally constructing them in English and then translating them into German, similar to solving a math problem where I apply grammar rules step by step. I would like to overcome this translation dependency and become more proficient in German sentence formation.

With that in mind, I would appreciate insights from experienced German language learners regarding the expected milestones and skills for each level. Could someone with experience in German language learning share some insights on the expected milestones and skills for each level?

I'm also interested in understanding at which level I can reasonably expect to engage in conversations and understand them more naturally. I want to set realistic goals and have a better understanding of the learning journey ahead.

I'm a native English speaker.

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  • With regards to "practical communications": It's never too early to try and engage in situations allowing you to practice, even if you're only partially able to follow. Even A1 level mentions "interactions". As a native English speaker, you're both blessed and doomed: Blessed for the capability to be able to nearly always fall back to English to resolve situations where you got stuck with your current proficiency of German, but doomed by the very same thing that many people will change to English "to make you more comfortable" (and deprive you of your right to learn...)
    – tofro
    Commented Jul 6, 2023 at 7:49

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I don't believe that this question is specific to German, or to any language in particular. Yet these proficiency levels at least roughly compare among languages as they are meant to describe just that rather agnostic of the actual language: the level of proficiency:

In 2001 the Common European Framework of References for Languages was published after many years of research. This framework, also called CEFR, describes what language users who have acquired a new language can do and how well and efficiently they do so. These CEFR levels indicate the various levels of language proficiency of users of a language.

In brief a summary concerning spoken interaction as you ask about that specifically:

  • A1 (beginner): Simple conversations if your peer speaks slowly and can rephrase and repeat things. Topics are familiar or concern immediate needs

  • A2 (pre-intermediate): Simple and routine tasks which require simple and direct information exchang on familiar topics and activities. You can handle very short social exchanges, even though you cannot usually understand enough to keep the conversation going yourself

  • B1 (intermediate): You can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken. You can enter unprepared into conversation on topics that are familiar, of personal interest or pertinent to everyday life (e.g. family, hobbies, work, travel and current events).

  • B2 (upper-intermediate): You can interact with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible. You can take an active part in discussion in familiar contexts, accounting for and sustaining your views.

  • C1 (advanced): You can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without much obvious searching for expressions. You can use language flexibly and effectively for social and professional purposes. You can formulate ideas and opinions with precision and relate your contribution skilfully to those of other speakers.

  • C2 (proficiency): You can take part effortlessly in any conversation or discussion and have a good familiarity with idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms. You can express yourself fluently and convey finer shades of meaning precisely. If you do have a problem you can backtrack and restructure around the difficulty so smoothly that other people are hardly aware of it.

I took these definitions from this website from the definition of 'spoken interaction'. You find there also the expectation or definition concerning 'spoken production', 'listening', 'writing' and 'reading'. With respect to the needed time investment to advance from one level to another I found this blog which references the Goethe Institute. The numbers look plausible, yet I was unable to verify.

These definitions hold true in my experience. Even with a very beginner level of a language you can have these very simple conversations. It may be an effort on your part and on the person's part whom you talk to. Yet it still can be fun - and definitely will be a good learning experience :) Do that more often and you will be in at least A2 in no time and without even noticing it.

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