English Language Levels

Our way of describing English language levels at IH Manchester is based on the CEFR.

What is the CEFR?

CEFR means the “Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment”.

The CEFR is a global scale of language level. It describes what people can actually do in the language. These abilities start from knowing just a few words, to knowing and using the language almost perfectly.

The “Global scales” have three levels, and each level is divided into two:

Proficient user


Can understand with ease virtually everything heard or read. Can summarise 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 recognise 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 organisational 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 specialisation. 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 very 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.

The IH Manchester Classes are named after colours and correspond to the CEFR:

For each level, the CEFR describes what a learner can do in reading, listening, speaking and writing.
For example, at the end of level A1, the learner:
“Can interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help.”
Compare this with C2:
“Can express him/herself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.”
Against this Framework, any formal exam, certificate or syllabus can be matched. In other words, any aspect of learning, teaching or testing a language can be put somewhere on this table.

Making Progress

Individual learners will progress differently depending on many factors, such as exposure to the language and culture, knowledge of other languages, motivation etc.
As a rough guide, Cambridge exams estimate that each level is reached with the following guided learning hours:
A2, 180–200
B1, 350–400
B2, 500–600
C1, 700–800
C2, 1,000–1,200

The Curriculum

When studying English at International House Manchester, students can progress from a A1, Beginner level to C2 Proficient. How much progress you make during your course depends upon a few different things:
– Your level of English when you arrive,
– If you are a good language learner
– Your past experience of learning languages
– How long your course lasts
At IH Manchester we will make the English that you learn relevant to real life. You will learn in a way that you live and work, so you will work in pairs and in groups to solve problems. Your lessons will be structured and organised in a way that helps you to learn.
The curriculum means any activity done while you are studying with us. Everything you do that helps you to meet your English language learning objectives:
– Work completed in class
– Language used on a school social activity or excursion
– Homework
– Activities you do in the school’s supplementary classes eg. “Job Club”
– Advice given to you by your teachers on how best to learn English whilst you are in the UK
To make sure that you have a quality learning experience at IH Manchester, we use the following in our teaching:
Up to date and relevant course book materials, which we adapt to meet your individual needs and objectives.
Supplementary materials, which complement the course books, providing additional learning opportunities.
The use of CEFR Levels and “Can Do” Statements to provide an international standard. These clearly show you the objectives of each course and class so you and your teachers can monitor the progress of your learning.
We teach you natural language used that is used in real life.
We show you how you can best learn. We help you to become an independent learner, so that you will have the skills to continue to improve your English after you have left our school.
Different teachers at our school have different styles of teaching. You will have an opportunity to be taught by all the teachers, when possible. This allows you to experience a variety of teaching methods and to appeal to all individual Learning Styles.

Course Programmes

Most students at International House Manchester follow English language courses of between 15 and 20 hours per week. Most students take 15 hours of lessons before lunch and any other hours after.

Morning Classes

These follow a curriculum aimed at competences defined by the Common European Framework (CEFR). These are displayed in every classroom. Each class works through a course book at the correct level. The teacher plans a scheme of work for the morning classes and collaborates with their team teacher. The course book material allows progress through the different levels. The scheme of work is displayed for students to see at the beginning of each week. Other published materials as well as materials produced by the teacher are used when required.

Afternoon Classes

The afternoon classes practise key receptive (listening and reading) and productive (speaking and writing) skills strategies and techniques. Students can take General English skills lessons or lessons designed to prepare students for exams such as IELTS. Lessons are communicative at all times and help students with the skills they need for day to day living and studying in the UK. Afternoon lessons may also teach the skills to help students prepare for English language exams. Teachers can plan these lessons to cover specific skills needed by specific students eg. Handwriting in English for speakers of Arabic.

Business English

These classes are planned for the afternoon with Business English course books creating the structure of the lesson. Supplementary materials are also used when required. Lessons are communicative at all times and help students to develop the skills they need for their specific professional activity.

One to Ones

These sessions are individually designed for each student. There is a Needs Analysis interview to identify exact objectives to help the student. All the teaching is designed to meet the needs of the individual student.

Additional classes and clubs

IH Manchester provides many free supplementary classes and clubs to help students meet their learning and life objectives.


Students complete sections of IELTS exams and receive advice on exam techniques and strategies from experienced teachers. Advice is also given on learning strategies using past papers. This takes place Monday to Thursday for an hour in the afternoon and is free to IH Manchester students.

Job Club

Students are helped with getting a National Insurance number, writing their CV, interviews and job applications. This takes place Tuesday and Thursday for an hour in the afternoon and is free to IH Manchester students.

Spelling class

Held periodically throughout the year, students get an introduction to English spelling and pronunciation, learn spelling rules and tips and well as strategies for becoming a better speller. The also practise spelling academic vocabulary. The class is free for IH Manchester students.

Our Teaching and Learning Policy

In classrooms at International House Manchester, teachers will:
1. Set suitable aims and objectives for each class. These will be written on the white board at the start of each class, so each student is clear about the purpose of the class and will be able to measure progress. A plan of the week’s classes will also be on display in each classroom.
2. Use the target language only, systematically building on what students already know. We’ll use and teach natural language based on the needs of the students in the class.
3. Present language in clear contexts and situations supported with real life and relevant examples. We believe that learning English means being able to use it when you need it. We want students to understand English grammar, but more importantly we want students to be able to use it. However, we won’t only work on grammar. Natural vocabulary and pronunciation will be equally important parts of your lessons.
4. Support students to work out meanings and use of the target language themselves and give students lots of opportunities to practise language in structured, purposeful activities which reflect their English language needs. Feedback on performance will be provided at appropriate stages of the lesson in a friendly, helpful way to improve accuracy while developing fluency. Fluency activities will be personalised, where possible, to the learners. Teachers will plan their lessons so there are lots of chances for the students to communicate in English.
5. Give students language skills training in reading, writing, listening and speaking, so that they are able to both consolidate classroom learning more effectively and become more independent language learners.
6. Add variety to their lessons, making them motivating for the students.
7. Be open to the opinions of the students. As well as having one-to-one tutorials every two weeks, in which the students and teachers will work together to assess learning and objectives, students should feel comfortable coming to the teacher at appropriate times with problems or concerns.
8. Set homework to consolidate teaching and learning that has taken place during each lesson.
9. Encourage students to take notes and organise materials, making sure all students have a record of their work.
10. Be sensitive to personalities, personal motivations, cultural differences, job requirements, exam goals and individual needs in planning, teaching and all dealings with students.

At International House Manchester, students are expected to:

1. Work in pairs, groups, and as a class to practise recently taught language in a variety of practice activities.
2. Use the target language only.
3. Consolidate and build upon what has been taught in class through completing homework tasks set.
4. Be sensitive to other students’ personalities, cultural differences and individual needs in the class.

English Lessons, Teaching & Learning

General English classes provide tuition in:
· Grammar
· Vocabulary
· Listening
· Speaking
· Reading
· Pronunciation
· Writing
International House Manchester is committed to helping students communicate effectively using natural English.