The German Language Levels: How Long Does It Take To Learn German? (2023)

Are you studying German and you’re wondering how long it will take to master each level of the German language?

Whenever you come across a discussion about learning German online, you usually see people mentioning German language levels and referring to them with letters and numbers (A1, A2, B1, B2, C1 and C2).

In this guide, I will walk you through each of the German language levels, explain how long you might need to reach them, provide resources to help you get there, and describe how proficient in German you’ll be once you’re there.

(Video) How long does it take to become fluent i German

CEFR Levels

Every letter and number combo is a CEFR level. And your CEFR level decides how well you speak German. CEFR is short for the “Common European Reference Framework”, which is a system used in Europe to make language learning and assessment easier.

If you’re wondering how long learning German will take you, understanding the CEFR levels is crucial. And knowing your current CEFR level is the first step to figuring out how much resources and time you will need to snag that job opportunity with a certain CEFR level as a requirement.


So let’s start with the basic question:

How many German language levels are there?

The German language has 6 CEFR levels – starting with A1 (absolute beginner), and ending with C2 (completely fluent). And in this table you will see each level explained in detail.

The A Levels: Beginners

LevelDescriptionCourses & Resources
  • At this level you will be able to use everyday expressions and form simple sentences that are related to everyday life (like asking for water).
  • You will also be able to introduce yourself, state where you come from and ask other people for similar information.
  • You can comprehend what other people are saying at this level as long as they speak slowly and use simple words.
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  • At the A2 level you begin understanding frequently used expressions that are related to a wider variety of topics as long as they are of immediate importance (like work, the environment around you and shopping).
  • Communicating in routine situations and exchanging familiar information will also be easier at this level.
  • A2 German speakers can describe their origin, education and other common attributes about their person or their past.
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A Levels: Recap

(Video) A1 to C2 : overview of German Language levels.

  • These first two German language levels are very elementary, and they’re the bare minimum needed for communication.
  • Reaching the A1 level (from a point of no previous knowledge of a particular language) has been estimated to take between 60 – 80 hours of instruction by both Deutsche Welle and Alliance Française.
  • While there are many different ways to start learning German, I’ve found that the most effective way is through online courses with a community. Smarter German offers exactly that with the A1 Beginner’s German and A2 Elementary German Courses.

The B Levels: Conversational

LevelDescriptionCourses & Resources
  • B1 German speakers have no problem understanding the main points of a conversation when clear standard German is used, especially when the topic is something familiar like school or work.
  • If you reach this level, you can rest assured that you can handle most of the travel situations you will face if you go to Germany.
  • At B1, you will be able to talk about your interests and areas of expertise.
  • B1 speakers can talk about the past, describe their day and their dreams, make plans and explain familiar topics.
B1 Exam PreparationA1-B1 Beginners Bundle
  • At this level, you will start understanding the main ideas in complex texts involving both abstract and concrete topics.
  • If you are a specialist in a certain area, at B2 you will have the ability to easily discuss topics within your speciality.
  • B2 speakers can carry fluent conversations with native speakers with neither side having to speak slowly or use simple words.
  • If you reach B2, you will be able to express yourself in detail and with a wide range of expressions, give your opinions on things and discuss the advantages and disadvantages of different options.
B2 Upper-Intermediate German

B Levels: Recap

  • The B levels in the German language is when you really start to use the language independently, requiring little to no help in keeping the conversation going.
  • The Foreign Service Institute (FSI) suggests that you need about 750 hours to get to the B2 level.
  • Don’t let that number scare you, because Smarter German has made reaching these levels easier than ever with two powerful courses:
    • The first one is designed to get you there as fast as possible by focusing on the B1 German exam (B1 Exam Preparation)
    • The second one will help you elevate your German speaking abilities to the next level with maximum effectiveness (B2 Upper-Intermediate German)

The C Levels: Fluency

LevelDescriptionCourses & Resources
  • At this point, you will be able to understand a wide range of texts with demanding concepts and implied meanings.
  • C1 speakers almost never need to search for a simple word to express their ideas.
  • At C1, you will be able to use German effectively in your social, academic and professional life. You will also be able to express your thoughts eloquently and use different ways to link ideas together appropriately.
C1 Advanced German
  • The last of the German language levels means that you can understand basically anything you read or hear.
  • You will have the ability to summarize long texts and condense complex ideas in order to explain them to other people.
  • C2 speakers express their thoughts in a very precise and nuanced manner no matter how complex these thoughts may be.

C Levels: Recap

  • The C levels are as competent as you can get in German. And it’s difficult to say how long you’re gonna need to get there, since it depends on how often you use the language. The Goethe Institut says you need to have studied German for at least 750 hours to get to this point. But realistically, it might take you up to 3 years to reach the C2 level.
  • You shouldn’t feel discouraged if you feel like the C2 level is out of your reach, since even native Germans struggle with reaching this level. But with frequent and correct learning and practice, you will definitely arrive at your German speaking goals.
  • Smarter German offers you the C1 Advanced German Course that will make reaching the C1 level infinitely easier.

How do I know which level I’m at?

You might have this question on your mind if you’re already learning German. The above table can give a rough idea of where you fit among the 6 German language levels, but the most accurate way to assess your level is by taking an exam.

(Video) German Language Master Class - How long until I'm fluent in German?

The TestDaF (Test Deutsch auf Fremdsprache) corresponds loosely to the CERF levels of B2 and C1, as the test is meant to tell whether a student has the German language skills needed for academic study in Germany, and so it is not suited for beginners. Meanwhile, the Goethe-Institut has adapted their certificates and levels to match the CERF levels.

With all the different levels and assessments involved, German has a bad reputation for being difficult. Many people are too scared of taking the first step. But with my Everyday German Course, you will rediscover the joy and happiness of learning a new language.

If you have any questions on any of the German language levels, let me know in the comments below.

(Video) How well can you learn German in 5 months?


How long does it take to learn German perfectly? ›

The FSI estimates that German takes approximately 30 weeks, or 750 classroom hours to learn. This study was conducted on a group of language students who spent 25 hours per week in class, and three hours daily on individual practice.

How long does each German level take? ›

Basic A1 to A2 – Attending an Intensive course takes A1 in around 60 hours and A2 in 120 hours. Intermediate B1 to B2 – B1 takes 200 hours and B2 takes approximately 300 hours. Advance C1 to C2 – C1 takes around 240 hours and C2 takes around 240 hours to complete the whole course and become a pro at speaking German.

How long does it take to complete C2 German? ›

The Goethe Institut says you need to have studied German for at least 750 hours to get to this point. But realistically, it might take you up to 3 years to reach the C2 level. You shouldn't feel discouraged if you feel like the C2 level is out of your reach, since even native Germans struggle with reaching this level.

How many months does it take to learn German B2? ›

B2 also takes around 3 months if you spend around 8 hours a week. P.S.: There are some people who are good at learning languages and remembering stuff who finished it all in 3-4 months. It all depends on how easy this comes to you and how much time you're spending on it.

How difficult is A1 German? ›

German A1 exam pattern is quite simple. As it's a language, there are 4 modules- Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking. It is 60 points exam and you have to score 36 points (60%) to pass the exam.

What is the fastest way to learn Germany? ›

As with any language, the fastest and best way to learn German is through total immersion, preferably through living in a German-speaking country. If that's not possible, here are some other options: Learn the basics.

What level of German will Duolingo get you? ›

Whether you're a total beginner or you're looking to brush up, Duolingo's German course is definitely one of the best options currently available. The course is now hitting the same heights as the French and Spanish courses — which Duolingo reckon can get you to a B2 level on the CEFR.

Can I learn A1 German in 1 month? ›

German is a difficult language! Within a month, you should be able to get a hang of most of the basics, such as haben and sein and using the Perfekt tense, enough to where you'll be able to navigate your daily life with relative ease.

How long does it take to get to B1 level German? ›

How long does it take to learn German?
Assess your current level & test your German online!Super Intensive course (30 lessons/week)
A1beginner6 weeks
A2elementary6 weeks
B1intermediate6 weeks
B2upper intermediate6 weeks*
2 more rows

Can I learn B2 German in 5 months? ›

As you can see, rapid learning is undoubtedly doable even if you want to learn German from scratch to a B2 level in 5 months or faster. I have done it with dozens of students using the outlined strategy, and results are always great.

Is German C1 exam hard? ›

So how hard is the C1 exam? There's no doubt that the C1 exam is difficult, but it's certainly not impossible. I'm someone who still makes grammar mistakes more frequently than I'd like, sometimes uses the wrong words and can't always find the right vocabulary, but, thanks to some good preparation, I managed to pass.

Is B2 German fluent? ›

B2 is the first level that means that you can speak really fluent and understand 80% of the situations that you find yourself in repeatedly. You can prepare yourself for the exam and even see a sample of the language level here.

Can I learn German B1 in one month? ›

The German B1 level, also known as the intermediate level, It will take you at least 80 hours per week (a total of 4 weeks) to finish your German B1. According to Goeth Institut, you'll take at least 350 and 650 45-minute units of teaching depending on what you have retained from your previous A1 to A2 level.

How long does it take to get C1 German? ›

The whole C1 level takes 8 weeks to complete. See all course dates above and choose between an Intensive and Superintensive course.

Can I learn German B1 in 3 months? ›

In all, that comes to about 200 hours total, meaning that to reach a B1 level in German in 3 months, you should study the language for about ~2 hours and 10 minutes each day. It's a high goal, but if you have sufficient motivation, you can definitely reach it.

Can I get job with German A1? ›

If you are an EU citizen with German A1 you can directly work in several jobs. As a student you may work for up to 90 days a year in Germany.

How many words do I need for A1 German? ›

The official German A1 vocabulary includes, according to the German Goethe Institut, 650 words – that's the bad news. Wow, that's a lot, you may think.

How long does A1 German last? ›

Goethe-Zertifikats A1 through C2 do not expire. Many institutions and employers, however, expect the certificate to be dated not more than two years ago.

What is the shortest way to learn German? ›

Immersion forces German learners to use the language on a daily basis, helps them connect with native speakers, and teaches them valuable knowledge about German culture. Not only that, but it does all of this within a very short period of time. Immersion is, without a doubt, one of the fastest ways to learn German.

Can I study German by myself? ›

Not everyone has the time, money or confidence to take German language classes, or take a trip to Germany. But don't be disheartened: that doesn't mean you can't start somewhere. Taking a free online German language course on an app like Busuu is a great way to get started and take your studies wherever you go.

How long does it take for an American to learn German? ›

In short, the FSI estimated that learning German will take approximately 30 weeks (750 hours) for English speakers. This may seem like a lot of time, but it's a fraction compared to languages like Chinese, Japanese and Arabic, which took students up to 88 weeks to learn.

Which is better babbel or Duolingo? ›

Is Babbel better than Duolingo? After thoroughly testing out and reviewing each language learning program, we feel that Babbel is better than Duolingo for multiple reasons. Based on the strength of their curriculum, teaching style and delivery, we rate Babbel as the superior app over Duolingo.

Can Duolingo get you to B1 German? ›

By reaching the end of Unit 5, Duolingo learners have completed all the lessons in the beginner sections of our courses, called A1 and A2, and are starting intermediate B1 material.

Can Duolingo get you to B2? ›

At Duolingo, we're developing our courses to get you to a level called B2, at which you can get a job in the language you're studying. Reaching that kind of proficiency requires dedication, varied practice opportunities, and a lot of time.

How to self study German A1? ›

8 Simple, Solo Steps to Learn German
  1. Hear and Repeat German Letter Sounds. ...
  2. Stockpile Some Easy “Framework Words” ...
  3. Expand Your Vocabulary with Nouns, Verbs and Adjectives. ...
  4. Start Putting Sentences Together. ...
  5. Memorize Reusable German Phrases. ...
  6. Watch Movies and Videos in German (Dubbed, Then Authentic) ...
  7. Read the news in German.
Nov 17, 2022

Can you become fluent in German in 3 months? ›

You need more than 3 months to be fluent. But even with such a short time, if you adjust your strategy, you can actually learn German and get really close to being fluent. And I don't mean being able to say, 'I'm doing fine' in German as fast as a native speaker or being able to combine words you learned on Duolingo.

What level of German language is required to work in Germany? ›

Depending on the German federal state, level B1 or B2 of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) is required.

How hard is C2 German? ›

The C2 level exam: Think “very hard” & multiply that by a thousand. The Common European Framework of References for Languages level C2 is one of the hardest possible examinations you can do in any language.

Can you get to B1 German in a year? ›

They say that you need to have completed at least 350 45-minute German lessons/practice sessions to reach B1, which would take roughly a year and a half since most people can't take a lesson every single day in a row.

Is German B1 hard? ›

The B1 level is the third level in the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for Languages. It is certainly a step beyond the A1 & A2 exams. Passing the B1 level German exam means that you are on the intermediate level of your journey.

How hard is it to learn German fluently? ›

According to the FSI (Foreign Service Institute) of the US government, an English speaker would need about 750 class hours or 30 weeks of practice to become fluent in German. Of course, this is not 100% accurate for every individual. Some people have a knack for learning languages, others don't.

Can I learn German in 3 months? ›

You need more than 3 months to be fluent. But even with such a short time, if you adjust your strategy, you can actually learn German and get really close to being fluent. And I don't mean being able to say, 'I'm doing fine' in German as fast as a native speaker or being able to combine words you learned on Duolingo.

Can I learn German in 6 months? ›

The average language you need to know 2,000–3,000 words to be fluent. That not including grammar and idiums. Therefore if you wish to learn 2,500 words in 6 month (180 days) you need to learn about 14 words per day.

Can you become fluent in German in 3 years? ›

No. I know that's not the answer you were looking for, but if anyone tries to tell you otherwise they're amazingly wrong. With that said, you can learn a considerable amount if you're willing to put in a lot of time and effort, so I suppose it depends on what you mean by “Learn German”.

What is the hardest part of learning German? ›

Because there are few pronunciation rules

Unlike English, for instance, where every word is pronounced in its own way or French, where to rules are so severe and dictations are done even in the most progressed course levels.

Is German hard for Americans? ›

With plenty of straightforward rules, German is not actually as hard to learn as most people think. And since English and German stem from the same language family, you might actually be surprised at the things you pick up without even trying! And on top of it all, it's definitely a useful one, too.

What is the best way to become fluent in German? ›

11 Tips to Breaking Through and Finally Becoming Fluent in German
  1. Get a German Dictionary.
  2. Buy a German Textbook.
  3. Listen to German Music.
  4. Read German Children's Books.
  5. Read German Translations of English books.
  6. Get a German Sprachpartner (language partner)
  7. Find a Stammtisch (regular meeting of German speakers)
Dec 14, 2022

Is German easiest to learn? ›

Getting Great at German

German might not be as familiar to English speakers as Spanish, but it's still one of the easiest languages to learn. Like Spanish, it's also a phonetic language, which makes pronunciation easy to figure out.

What is the fastest you can learn a language? ›

FSI research indicates that it takes 480 hours to reach basic fluency in group 1 languages, and 720 hours for group 2-4 languages. If we are able to put in 10 hours a day to learn a language, then basic fluency in the easy languages should take 48 days, and for difficult languages 72 days.

How hard is B2 German? ›

B2 is the first level that means that you can speak really fluent and understand 80% of the situations that you find yourself in repeatedly. You can prepare yourself for the exam and even see a sample of the language level here.

How many words do you need to know to be fluent in German? ›

In order to feel comfortable speaking German, you really only need to learn about 3,000 words. In contrast, being fluent in German is defined as understanding 10,000+ words.


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