First things first…Precisely what is the CEFR?
The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is a guideline used to determine foreign language proficiency and one of its objectives is to harmonise assessment across Europe. The CEFR establishes six levels of language competency: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2. Each level outlines the expected abilities as learners proceed from beginner to master of the target language.You can use the requirements established by the CEFR below, in order to assess your level independently.
Taken from the Council of Europe (ALTE) standards.
How long will it take to get from A1 to C2 in Russian?
How long is a piece of string? The truth is, no one can provide you with a definite answer to this question because the precise length of time it will take you is largely dependent on factors both within and beyond your control. Although the CEFR scale makes it appear as though you will develop your skills in a linear fashion, this is far from the reality. Whilst in the beginner phase, you will acquire knowledge rapidly and find your progress is very noticeable with every minute that you dedicate to the task of learning Russian. However, as you progress to the intermediate and advanced levels (B1 to c2), it is no longer enough to simply learn and understand words. You’re expected to use the language independently, speak with fluency, attune your ear to the language, express written thoughts fluidly and in a grammatical manner, etc. At this point, your progress is more subtle, despite hours of work put into studying.
Your drive to succeed will shape the intensity and duration of your language study, and enable you to persevere even when you hit the intermediate plateau and feel like you’re not seeing progress as quickly as you would like. If you have learnt a language before, that will arm you with not only a tried-and-tested technique, but also valuable knowledge about how to do so more efficiently than before. Time is your greatest ally and if your personal or professional life hinders your ability to study on a regular basis, your journey will inevitably take longer than someone who is able to get in a solid 3+ hours of dedicated language study per day. Once you add the learning system elected, choice of textbook, access to native speakers and the financial resources for one-to-one tuition to the mix, you can see why speed of attainment may differ so drastically.
Nonetheless, if you’re really keen to have at least a rough idea, a great place to start is with the Foreign Service Institute’s (FSI) website. The FSI prepares US diplomats for posts abroad through intensive language training and has calculated the average time taken for its students to achieve what they define as ‘general professional proficiency’. This is roughly equivalent to a C1 level according to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which is a widely-used international standard for determining the quality of an individual’s language skills. According to the FSI, Russian is a Category III language, and as such it will take approximately 44 weeks to acquire professional proficiency in Russian, involving approximately 1,100 classroom hours.
How can I prove my language proficiency in Russian?
The Test of Russian as a Foreign Language (TORFL) is a Russian proficiency exam, which can be taken in order to prove competence in the Russian language. Performance is evaluated in accordance with the CEFR.