How our language courses work

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Busuu levels and the CEFR

Each language course on Busuu is developed using the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), an internationally recognised standard for creating language lessons. The CEFR is broken down into six stages, ranging from complete beginner to completely fluent. Busuu courses cover the first four stages of the CEFR, from A1 to B2 level.

Busuu levels

Completing Beginner A1 means you can: introduce yourself to new friends, order a drink and some food in your new language, ask and answer simple questions on familiar topics, write short texts and fill in a form with personal details.

Completing Elementary A2 means you can: make plans to go out with friends, describe your friends and family, understand the main point of simple texts and conversations, begin to have longer conversations on familiar topics.

Completing Intermediate B1 means you can: describe your favourite films and music, express emotions, agreement and disagreement, begin to understand TV programs when the topic is familiar, have more complex conversations where you give reasons and explanations.

Completing Upper Intermediate B2 means you can: discuss important issues that affect your life, understand the main point and important details in the news, take part in, extended conversations on familiar and new topics, narrate or write a story, describe the plot of a film or a book.

Topic-based lessons

Our lessons are designed by experts in linguistics and pedagogy to help you achieve fluency in a structured and engaging way. Each lesson is designed around a useful topic, and contains vocabulary, grammar, and practice exercises which gradually build conversational and writing skills. We teach you all the language we need before asking you to form sentences, have a conversation or do a writing exercise. Each lesson repeats language you've learned in previous lessons, reinforcing your memory and building your confidence. We've chosen topics that are relevant to your language level and to the types of conversation you're most likely to be having at each stage of your language-learning journey.

A typical lesson

We build each lesson so that it gives you everything you need to begin communicating on a particular topic. For example, in the following lesson, 'My City', in the Spanish A1 course, we begin with a Vocabulary unit on places you'll find in a city, then another one on how to understand directions. Then we introduce some grammar, with a unit on how to say 'there is' or 'there are' and then another grammar unit on prepositions of place (words like 'in', 'on' or 'at'). Once you've mastered these units, you are ready to start communicating with the language you've learned. We give you a simple writing task, asking you to describe a city you know. This is then sent to members of our community who will give you friendly and useful feedback on your writing. On the website there is also a voice recording exercise, where you can practise describing your city by inserting your voice into a dialogue and listening back to hear how you sound.

All our lessons help build your conversational skills gradually; starting with the vocabulary and grammar you need and then giving you simple but challenging exercises where you get to use the language you've learned in a real communicative task. It's these practice tasks that really build your fluency; requiring you to recall and be creative with the language you've learned - almost as good as a face to face conversation with a native speaker, but not nearly as scary!

Each lesson consists of several activities. The circles in each unit represent an activity. Each activity contains a variety of different exercises. In the example below, the unit contains three different activities.

To complete a lesson, a student needs to pass each activity and each unit within that lesson. To pass an activity, the student needs to score at least 75%. Once they have done this, the circle that represents the activity is filled. In the example below, only the first activity has been passed.

Once all the activities are passed, the percentage score in the top right corner of the lesson view will change to 100%. Note that a student does not have to pass an activity in order to progress through the course. Students are free to skip to any part of the course without completing or passing previous lessons.


Busuu language learning courses are designed to help you improve all the skills you need to become fluent in the language you are learning. We achieve this by giving you a huge variety of exercise types, topics and situations in which to practise your language skills. Here are some examples:

Busuu skills
Busuu skills

Making progress

You can visually track your progress through the Busuu course by seeing your percentage completion score increase and observing the colour of each unit you complete changing. In addition we send you a weekly progress report which tells you what you have achieved in the past seven days.

McGraw-Hill Education Certified Tests

Our English, French, Spanish and German courses each include four end of level tests certified by McGraw-Hill Education. You can take these tests at any time, regardless of whether you have completed a level or not. The tests are designed to show you how far you have progressed in each of the four CEFR levels A1, A2, B1 and B2, and are graded from C- to A+. Upon successful completion of a test, you can download and print a PDF certificate or share your results on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Staying motivated

It can be very difficult to stay motivated for the amount of time it takes to learn a language to fluency. In recognition of this, Busuu courses are designed to maximise both intrinsic (self-directed) and extrinsic (external) sources of motivation. In particular, reward systems, feedback and social elements are optimised to increase students’ feelings of autonomy, competence and relatedness.

Students who engage fully with the Busuu community, whether through submitting or correcting multiple writing exercises, or chatting regularly with friends they make in the community, report a higher degree of motivation for their language studies in general. From their observations, the Busuu team has built up a manifesto for staying motivated to learn a language:

✔ Set achievable goals
✔ Study with others
✔ Use variety to stay motivated
✔ Acknowledge that it takes time
✔ Don’t beat yourself up for taking a break – just keep coming back!
✔ Focus on the skills you struggle with most
✔ Ask for help
✔ Have fun with the language you learn