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C2 CEFR Level | What Does It Mean?

CEFR Level C2, the pinnacle of language proficiency, is a coveted achievement for language enthusiasts. In this comprehensive guide, we delve deep into what the C2 CEFR level means, how to reach it, and the rich vocabulary and expressions associated with it.

Let’s discover the skills, resources, and practical tips to advance from C1 to C2, explore the profound linguistic nuances of C2 vocabulary, and learn about available C2-level exams and certificates.

We'll also address common questions about the importance of C2, native speaker comparisons, and the role of language learning platforms like Duolingo.

Join me in the pursuit of linguistic mastery and let’s unlock these new opportunities for personal and professional growth through CEFR Level C2 - together.

cartoon person scaling an incline with the words "C2 CEFR LEVEL"

What Is The C2 CEFR Level?

The C2 level demonstrates a native-like ability to read, write, and speak a foreign language. At the C2 level, a language learner can:

  • Understand virtually everything heard or read with ease, including complex ideas and abstract texts.

  • Summarize information from different spoken and written sources, reconstructing arguments and accounts coherently.

  • Express themselves spontaneously, fluently, and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in the most complex situations.

  • Write clear, well-structured, and detailed texts on complex subjects, using various text types and styles.

  • Use language effectively for professional, academic, and advanced-level purposes.

  • Adapt to different types of discourse, including technical discussions and debates, and understand a wide range of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms.

Reaching the C2 level represents the highest degree of language proficiency, indicating that a person is an extremely competent and advanced user of the language.

It's often required for advanced academic and professional purposes, such as research, professional writing, and working in highly specialized fields.

Notably, not many language learners reach this level, and it often represents near-native or native-level proficiency in a foreign language.

cartoon woman saying "The C2 level demonstrates an advanced (native-like) grasp of the language.   A learner with a c2 level can enjoy the language in just about every way that a native can."

How Many Words Are Needed To Reach C2?

To reach the C2 level, a learner should have an active vocabulary of approximately 10,000 words and a passive vocabulary of 20,000.

It's important to note that vocabulary is just one aspect of language proficiency, and C2-level proficiency involves much more than just a large vocabulary.

To reach the C2 level, you should also have a deep understanding of grammar and syntax, a high level of listening and reading comprehension, the ability to express yourself with precision and nuance, and the capacity to understand and participate in complex and nuanced conversations.

How Many Study Hours Are Needed To Reach C2?

A highly motivated and dedicated learner might need around 1,000 to 2,200 hours of study and practice to reach C2 proficiency. This estimate assumes a rigorous study regimen and includes formal language classes, self-study, immersion experiences, and constant practice.

Of course, 1,000-2,200 hours seems like a huge difference, no?

The thing is, there are a ton of factors that play into this number, but for all practical purposes, we’ll blame the majority of this gap on the “what language you’re learning” factor.

cartoon woman saying "The C2 level requieres one to know about 20,000 words, and have studied for about 1,000-2,200 hours "

Is C2 Advanced or Native?

C2 is both advanced and native-like in that a person with this level can utilize the language as well, and sometimes better than a native speaker. For example, I have met native Spanish speakers who only test out at a C1 level.

The Difference Between C1 & C2 Level

C1 indicates advanced proficiency with the ability to understand complex texts, engage in discussions, and use the language for various purposes.

C2 represents mastery with native-like fluency, a deep understanding of the language, and the ability to use it effectively in all contexts. In summary, C1 is (advanced) proficient, whereas C2 is native-like.

How To Reach The C2 Level

Reaching C2 is an extremely difficult task, and having the motivation to get there is hard to obtain. I mean with the C1 level, we can do absolutely everything we want to with the language.

However, if you’re in a specific situation in which you need to reach C2, or you just want to challenge yourself, let’s take a look at how you should go about doing this.

Language Immersion: Go Abroad

Going abroad is almost always optional, but if you want to get to a C2 level, you should definitely spend some time living in your target language.

Luckily, you can do this in an economical way depending on what language you choose to study.

For example, I am at a C1 in Spanish, and I chose an economic city in Mexico to travel to in a few months to increase my exposure to the language.

In total, my trip will only cost about 2,000 and I’ll be gone for two months, not bad right?

Read, Read, Listen, Watch

Even when you’re abroad living in the language, don’t revert to your native language unless you are talking to your family.

When I took a trip to Panama a couple months back, I refused to allow myself to listen to YouTube videos, Netflix, or Music in English. This helped me go from B2 to C1 in a relatively short amount of time.

Get A Private Tutor

I usually tell people “Going abroad and getting a tutor are optional ways of progressing,” however, I have never spoken with anyone who has told me they’re shooting for C2.

So just as in the last section where I highly suggested that you take a trip abroad, I will strongly suggest that you get a well-trained private tutor to help you get to C2.

As I have mentioned in this article, most native speakers wouldn’t be able to pass a C2 exam without preparation, so you need a good coach to get you through this!

Advanced Courses

There are many resources from which you can get C2 courses, however, do your research before going with any company or school. If you don’t want (or can’t) enroll in a course, buy a C2 workbook for your target language like this one here from Amazon.

Extensive Reading

Read as much as you can! Something that really pushed me from B2 to C1 was when I began to read daily. I buy a new college-level book monthly in Spanish, I read it, extract the vocabulary I don’t know, study it in other contexts, and repeat.

Trust me, in good non-fiction books, you’ll find vocabulary that you never thought about learning that will really come in handy!

cartoon woman saying "If you want to reach the c2 level: Go abroad Stay immersed constantly get a private tutor Sign up for advanced courses read advanced books for natives"

C2 Vocabulary & Expression Examples

Reaching C2 proficiency in a foreign language demands a profound grasp of expressions and vocabulary, entailing a multifaceted set of challenges. Complex expressions may involve idiomatic phrases, colloquialisms, and regional variations, adding layers of intricacy.

Furthermore, vocabulary at this stage transcends basic communication; it demands the ability to use specialized terminology, from scientific jargon to literary lexicon.

Achieving C2 vocabulary entails precision and appropriateness, recognizing the right words for context, tone, and formality.

It's a pursuit of linguistic artistry where subtlety and accuracy meet eloquence, challenging even the most dedicated learners. Let’s take a look at some of these intricate C2 words and phrases.

C2 Vocabulary Examples

  • Ineffable: Something so extraordinary or indescribable that it cannot be expressed in words.

  • Ubiquitous: Present, appearing, or found everywhere, especially at the same time.

  • Esoteric: Intended for or understood by only a small, specialized group; obscure or difficult to comprehend by the general public.

  • Perspicacious: Having a keen sense of understanding and insight, often related to perceptive judgment.

  • Insuperable: Impossible to overcome, defeat, or surpass.

  • Alacrity: Promptness and eagerness in responding or doing something.

  • Supercilious: Behaving or looking as though one is superior to others; displaying haughty arrogance.

  • Inefficacious: Lacking the ability to produce the desired effect; ineffective.

  • Perspicuity: Clarity and clearness in expression or communication; the quality of being easily understood.

  • Ambivalent: Having mixed feelings or contradictory ideas about something or someone.

  • Verisimilitude: The appearance of being true or real, especially in artistic or literary works; the quality of seeming lifelike or believable.

  • Anathema: Something or someone that is vehemently disliked, detested, or cursed.

  • Serendipity: The occurrence of fortunate events by chance in a happy or beneficial way.

  • Obfuscate: To render something unclear, obscure, or confusing, often by deliberately making it difficult to understand.

C2 Expression Examples

In the realm of conjecture: Refers to something that exists in the realm of educated guesswork or speculation.

  • A surfeit of information: An excessive or overwhelming amount of information.

  • To be in the doldrums: To be in a state of stagnation, boredom, or lack of progress.

  • A tough nut to crack: Refers to a difficult problem or a person who is hard to understand or influence.

  • To separate the wheat from the chaff: To distinguish the valuable from the worthless or to identify the best individuals among a group.

  • To cast aspersions: To make unfounded or damaging statements about someone's character, integrity, or reputation.

  • A flash in the pan: Something that initially shows great promise but quickly loses its success or significance.

  • To be the epitome of something: To be the perfect or most typical example of a particular quality or concept.

  • A double-edged sword: A situation or decision with both advantages and disadvantages.

  • A Herculean task: Refers to a task that requires great strength, effort, or determination to accomplish.

  • To go the extra mile: To make an additional effort beyond what is expected or required.

  • To fall on deaf ears: When something is ignored or disregarded by others.

  • To steal someone's thunder: To take attention or credit away from someone by one's own actions or achievements.

  • A picture paints a thousand words: Suggests that a visual representation can convey a complex idea more effectively than a description.

  • To be at loggerheads: To be in a state of strong disagreement or conflict.

cartoon woman saying "C1 cefr vocabulary & Expression examples: Ineffable Ubiquitous Esoteric Perspicacious Insuperable Alacrity | A surfeit of information A tough nut to crack To separate the wheat from the chaff To cast aspersions To be the epitome of something To fall on deaf ears"

C2 CEFR Tests

English (CEFR C2):

The Cambridge English Proficiency (CPE) exam is a well-known C2-level English test. You can find information about it on the official Cambridge English website or on language test websites like the British Council or Pearson.

Spanish (CEFR C2):

The Diplomas de Español como Lengua Extranjera (DELE) C2 exam is a widely recognized C2-level test for Spanish. Information about the DELE can be found on the official website of the Instituto Cervantes.

French (CEFR C2):

The Diplôme Approfondi de Langue Française (DALF) C2 exam is a reputable C2-level French test. Details can be obtained from the official website of the French Ministry of Education or from Alliance Française.

Italian (CEFR C2):

The Certificazione di Italiano come Lingua Straniera (CILS) C2 exam is a recognized C2-level Italian test. You can find information on the CILS exam on the official website of the University for Foreigners of Siena, which administers the exam.

Portuguese (CEFR C2):

The Certificado de Proficiência em Língua Portuguesa para Estrangeiros (CELPE-Bras) is a respected C2-level Portuguese exam. Information can be found on the official CELPE-Bras website.

Chinese (CEFR C2):

For Chinese, the Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi (HSK) is a standardized test used to assess proficiency in Chinese. While the HSK primarily covers levels 1-6, there isn't an official C2-level test; however, you can still find advanced materials and exams in Chinese proficiency through Confucius Institutes and language centers.

Other C2 CEFR Certifications

If you are looking to get certified in your target language, you have many options. The easiest ones are Busuu & Lingoda. Both of these platforms will not only teach you the C1 level with well-thought-out content, but they will also certify you as long as you remember what they taught you.


In this section, we’ll go over some common questions that are asked by students who are looking to achieve a higher CEFR level in their target language.

Is CEFR Level C2 Good?

CEFR Level C2 represents the highest level of language proficiency, indicating mastery of a language. Achieving C2 is excellent and demonstrates an advanced command of the language. It's highly regarded and can open doors to various opportunities in education, work, and communication.

Is A Native Speaker C1 or C2?

Native speakers typically have a command of their language at a C1 level or even higher. However, the C2 exams require specific and technical words that most natives do not use or have a full understanding of - so it may seem that a C2 speaker can articulate their thoughts better than most native speakers.

Does Duolingo Get You To C2?

Unfortunately not, Duolingo is a platform that can help users progress from beginner to intermediate levels (B1/B2) in various languages. While it can be a valuable tool for beginners, reaching a C2 level requires additional, intense study, practice, and immersion.

Is CEFR Level C2 Necessary for Language Fluency?

Absolutely not, B2 is considered the first level of “fluency” and opens the doors to many possibilities. C2 however is a level that brings a complete understanding of the language and culture of the people who speak it.

cartoon woman saying "Are you planing on reaching the c2 level?  Let everyone know how you plan on doing it in the comment section so we can learn from you!"

Conclusion: C2 CEFR Level | What it means…

This comprehensive article explores CEFR Level C2, the highest level of language proficiency. It defines C2 and outlines the skills it entails, such as understanding complex texts and precise expression.

Achieving C2 demands a vast vocabulary, deep grammar knowledge, and advanced listening and reading skills. C2 proficiency is not a necessity for fluency, but it offers a profound understanding of a language.

If you are truly striving to reach the C2 level in your target language, my hats are off to you, good luck on your journey!

If you’re interested in knowing more about the CEFR levels, check out this article I did explaining the requirements and abilities one would have during each level.


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