How to reach level B1 in English?

Now that we have passed the beginner levels ( A1 and A2 of the CEFR ), it is time to dive into the intermediate levels in English! This will be an exciting stage in your learning process, as this is where you will start to be more independent and be able to enjoy content in the original version in English! So, let’s go for level B1 in English !

What is the B1 level in English?

This is the level where you will finally become an independent language user! In other words, it will allow you to speak English well enough to communicate with native speakers without difficulty , especially when it comes to familiar topics. This is a super rewarding level to reach as it allows you to start enjoying original content like music , series , newspapers, podcasts , movies , etc.… entirely in English! Sure, you won’t recognize every word, but you’ll get the gist of it, and then it gets really interesting!


What does level B1 in English contain?

According to the CEFR, this is what you must be able to pass this level:


What skills?

  • Understand the main points when clear and standard language is used and whether it is about familiar things in the areas of work, school, leisure, etc.

  • Get by in most situations encountered while traveling in an area where the target language is spoken.

  • Produce simple and coherent speech on familiar subjects and in one’s own areas of interest.

  • Recount an event, experience or dream, describe a hope or goal, and briefly state reasons or explanations for a project or idea.

What is level B1 in English?How to reach level B1 in English?


What grammar?

Here are the grammatical constructions you need to know to reach level B1. We have gathered for you the best resources to familiarize yourself with all the notions of level B1; everything is just a click away:

In EnglishIn French
Describing placesDescribe a place
Describing past experiences and storytellingDescribe past experiences, tell a story
Describing feelings, emotions, attitudesDescribe feelings, emotions and states of mind
Expressing opinionsTo express one’s opinion
Expressing agreement/disagreementExpressing agreement/disagreement
Talking about movies and booksTalk about a movie or a book
Initiating and closing a conversationStart and end a conversation
Checking understandingCheck understanding
Managing interaction ( interrupting , changing topic , resuming or continuing)Leading a conversation: interrupting someone, changing the subject, resuming or continuing an exchange
Linkers (sequential, past time)Link words (logical and temporal connectors)
Connecting words expressing cause and effect, contrast, etc.Linking words expressing cause , consequence, contrast , etc.
Markers to structure informal spoken discourseElements of the informal register
Wh-questions in the pastQuestions in wh- in the past tense
Complex question tagsComplex recovery questions
Not simpleThe preterite
Past simple (irregular verbs)The past tense of irregular verbs
Past continuousThe past continuous/progressive (in Be + V-ing)
Used toUsing used to to describe a past habit
Would expressing habit in the pastExpressing a past habit with would
Not perfectPast Perfect
Future continuousThe continuous/progressive future
Basic use of the present perfectThe basics of the Present Perfect
Present perfect vs. Present (single or continuous)Differences between Present Perfect, Present Simple and Present Continuous
Present perfect vs. Not easyPresent Perfect or past?]( )
Present perfect continuousThe progressive Present Perfect
More present perfect examplesMore examples of the Present Perfect

A picture is worth a thousand words :
learn to describe past experiences!
How to reach level B1 in English?

In EnglishIn French
Zero and first conditionalConditionals of types zero and 1
Second and third conditionalConditionals of types 2 and 3
Common phrasal verbsThe most common phrasal verbs
Advanced phrasal verbs (Extended/splitting, B1 verbs)Advanced phrasal verbs (level B1)
Single PassiveThe passive voice in simple tenses
Reported speech (range of tenses)The indirect style (reported speech)
Might, may, will, probablyThe modals might, may, will, probably
Must/can’t (Deduction)Express deduction with must and can’t
Must/have toModals must / have to
Should (Deductive/Suppositional)Expressing an inference or guess with should
Ought toThe semi-modal ought to
Need toThe semi-modal need to
Should have, might have, etc.Expressing modality in the past tense with should have, might have , etc.
possessive pronounsThe possessive pronouns
With countable and uncountable nounsPossessive pronouns with countable and uncountable nouns
Broad range (eg all the, most, both)More quantifiers ( all the, most, both, etc. )
Collocation of adjectivesCollocations with adjectives
Adverbial phrases of time, place and frequency including word orderAdverbial phrases of time, place and frequency , and word order
Adjectives and adverbs (contrasting adjectives and adverbs)Adjectives and adverbs (differentiating between adjectives and adverbs)
Adverbial phrases of degree/extent, probabilityAdverbial phrases of intensity, probability
Comparative and superlative forms of adverbsComparative and superlative forms of adverbs
Broader range of intensifiers (too, so, enough, etc.)More intensifiers ( too, so, enough , etc)
Wide range of adverbs (extremely, much too, etc.)More adverbs ( extremely, much too , etc.)

The list of grammatical constructions is adapted from the British Council and EAQUALS .

Do you know all the grammar of our checklist ?How to reach level B1 in English?


What vocabulary?

In EnglishIn French
Things in town, shops and shoppingCity elements, stores and shopping
Travel and services vocabularyVocabulary of travel and services
Contrasting opinions (on the one hand…)Compare / contrast opinions ( on the one hand… )
Colloquial languageThe colloquial language
Work and jobsWork
Leisure activitiesLeisure activities
Books and Literaturebooks and literature
News, lifestyles and current affairsInformation, lifestyles and news
MediaThe media

What subjects?

The individualThe people
Personal particularsTalking about oneself
AppearanceThe appearance
Inner characteristicsThe character
Evening-wearCasual or evening wear
Relatives , friendsFamily members
Acquaintances, neighborsAcquaintances, neighbors
Classmates/schoolmates, colleaguesClassmates, colleagues
Family membersAbout family members
Family occasions/celebrationsfamily celebrations
Distribution of tasks in the familyDivision of tasks in the family
Places of livingLiving spaces
House/ block house/ flatThe house, the apartment, the neighborhood
Flat furnishing/gadgetsFurniture and home accessories
Furnishing/ gadgets of the kitchen and the bathroomKitchen and bathroom appliances and accessories
Rent and billsrent and bills
Transport, means of transportMethods of transportation
public transportationPublic transport
Time table/informationSchedules, information
Buying tickets/preparing for a journeyBuy a ticket, prepare your trip
Traveling abroad/travelling documentsTraveling abroad, travel-related documents
Shops / marketsThe shops, the market *
Department stores/departmentsDepartment stores, shelves
Groceries, household goodsgroceries, household items
electric applianceselectrical appliances

Be narcissistic: talk about yourself in English !How to reach level B1 in English?

Communication, keeping in touchCommunicate, keep in touch
Post (letter, telegram, parcel)Post (letter, parcel)
Telephone (traditional, mobile, text messages)The telephone (wired, mobile, SMS)
Internet (email, Skype, chat)Internet (email, Skype, chat)
Financial services (transfer, exchange)Financial services (transfer, exchange)
Restaurant (menu, ordering, paying)At the restaurant (the menu, order, pay)
Hotel (booking, payment)At the hotel (book, pay)
culture/entertainmentCulture, leisure
GuestsThe guests
CinemasAt the movie theater
TheatersAt the theatre
MuseumsAt the Museum
Library (school, at home, public)The library (school, home, public
Time/weather, seasonsThe weather, the seasons
Seasons / weatherThe seasons and the weather
weather forecastWeather forecast
Health/illnesshealth / disease
At the doctor’sAt the doctor’s
Common illnesses and their symptomsCommon diseases and their symptoms
Prescriptions / medication / pharmacyPrescriptions, medication; the pharmacy
popular sportspopular sports
national sportsnational sports
doing sportsPlay sports

Not only are you being lied to when they tell you that we jog
every morning, but also when they tell you that it’s an English word !
How to reach level B1 in English?

MediaThe media
RadioThe radio
Newspapers / magazinesNewspapers and magazines
Gardening / DIYGardening, DIY
Reading / listening to musicReading , listening to music
Studying/workingstudies and work
Types of schoolsThe different kinds of schools
SubjectsThe subjects
Popular professions/workplacesCommon occupations; work place
daily routineDaily life
Colleagues/ bosses/ classmatesColleagues, bosses, comrades
European UnionThe European Union
Members of the EUMembers of the European Union
Travelling/ work/ mobilityTravel, work, mobility
Culture and civilizationsCulture and civilizations
Basic practical information regarding the home country and the target language ( weather , currency , eating habits , daily routine , celebrations , shopping opportunities, etc.)Basic practical information on the country of origin and the country of the target language (weather, currency, eating habits, daily life, festivals, local specialties, etc.)
tourist attractionstourist attractions

The topics are taken from the ECL Examination System site .

Brits fail to label a map of Europe

Funny video: don’t be like the English.
Learn the geography of our continent!


How to reach level B1 in English?

First of all, I must warn you: if you were shy until now and you avoided speaking in English, you will have to quickly break this habit! To reach level B1, you have to open up, start actively using the language on a daily basis and even make a few English-speaking friends. Talking is essential at this stage. The possibilities and advantages that the Internet offers us are enormous, so how not to take advantage of them?! You can find an English correspondent , a site to do a language exchange, contact a native teacher online or English- speaking communities near you !

Here are some other useful tips to help you reach the B1 level :

  • Spend some time learning vocabulary the smart way or learning to learn , so to speak. Many high-level words in English are actually of Sanskrit origin (there are historical reasons for that), so you already know them! Sometimes there are small differences in spelling and always big differences in pronunciation. Also watch out for fake friends !

  • Talk to yourself ! It’s only when you speak to each other in a foreign language to practice that you can’t come across as completely crazy! Practice the new subjects in front of your mirror, your computer or record yourself! Move your muscles and help them learn to pronounce English well !

  • Start integrating authentic content into your daily life! Dive into the various resources like TV , sitcoms , series , books , podcasts , music , etc. It’s a good idea to start not just using learner materials anymore, otherwise you risk sounding like a book when you speak and failing to understand things that are even slightly out of your comfort zone. So get started!

There is no secret: to learn English, you have to use it!How to reach level B1 in English?


Method to reach level B1 in English

Are you looking for a method that will take everything we just talked about into consideration and help you reach not only B1, but even an advanced level in English? Discover the Click & Speak method : vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation are organized into digestible and understandable sections!


How long to reach level B1 in English?

Many learners are unaware that it is better to measure time spent learning English in hours rather than years or months . So how long does it take to reach B1? If you are starting from scratch, that is to say that you do not yet have level A1 , you will need 350-400 hours of study . If you already have an A1 level, you will need around 240-300 hours of work and if your current level is A2 , you will need around 170-200 additional hours to reach B1! A piece of cake , right?


Resources for level B1


Listen to practice at B1 level

Here are 6 sample sentences from Click & Speak , to give you a clearer idea of what to expect at this level:

  • How did you do on the math test? = Did you pass the math test?
  • I found the ad in the newspaper. = I found the advertisement in the newspaper.
  • I asked if I could get a copy of it. = I asked if I could have a copy.
  • We’ve known about the dangers of smoking for a very long time. = We have known about the dangers of smoking for a very long time.
  • He said if he manages to learn Russian, then he will learn Japanese too. = He says that if he manages to learn Russian, he will also learn Japanese.
  • Culture is what’s left after everything has been forgotten. = Culture is what remains when everything has been forgotten.

Written comprehension level B1

One of the components of the B1 exam in English is the written comprehension test . Here are some sites that will allow you to practice it:

  • British Council
  • Exam Français
  • Test-English

B1 level test?

What do you think ? Do you already have a B1 level? It’s normal not to know yet: the CEFR system helps us to progress but it is not perfect, so I suggest you take a free mock exam for this level ! Depending on your results, you can start by reviewing level A2 or go directly to level B2!

To conclude, I wanted to share with you what having a B1 level really means, or my personal experience . This is the level in Russian I currently have and I’m quite happy with it: I can enjoy content in the original version, read, watch videos, listen to music and I can still understand the general idea, even though the details sometimes escape me. I know the basics of grammar and can express myself in rather short and simple sentences although I can understand a lot more than I can produce. The main thing is that I can survive in Russian : I can talk about several familiar topics without difficulty and, of course, with some mistakes. I assure you that you will never regret the time, the energy or theinvest in your English learning: it really is a lifetime investment, rather than just an expense! So: what are you waiting for?

And if you feel that B1 is too basic for you, no problem: upgrade to B2 in English !