When you start learning a language, you are logically at the lowest level of knowledge and competence in communication in this language. You are an absolute beginner. 

How do children learn their mother tongue ?

We do not have the time to learn a new language like children learn their mother tongues, so we do it by studying it, that is to say by learning its pronunciation the best we can, learning some ready made dialogs that introduce vocabulary, expressions, grammar, doing some exercises, etc.

Once we have started studying a new language, we also need to regularly measure our level of knowledge and our progression, and officialize them. 

This is one of the reasons why the Council of Europe has elaborated the CEFR (also called CEFRL), which means the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. 

To know more about the CEFRL, please refer to this article.

One of the aims of the CEFRL, which is a big (and very interesting) document full of pages, is to provide a guide for quality, coherent and transparent teaching of languages. 

It has reorganized in a coherent manner the levels of knowledge and competences that students are supposed to acquire at every stage of their learning. Those different levels are named by letters, followed by 1 or 2. 

It begins at level A1, although it is more and more common to see a level A1.1 before A1. 

A1.1 is the level of the absolute beginner, when you don't know how to say "hello" yet.

Some schools of languages will start at level A1, that is to say they will include level A1.1 in their curriculum. 

For some other people, level A1 is composed of two levels: A1.1 followed by level A1.2. 

For my lessons, I have chosen to separate level A1.1 from the rest of A1. The reason is that I believe A1.1 should not be treated quickly, as a simple introduction to the rest of A1.

Complete beginners starts at A1.1 and then carry on with the whole A1 program, that is to say with a revision of A1.1. 

I think this method is much more coherent than proposing A1.2 immediately after A1.1, as a completely new programme, without any revision of A1.1 first.

However, students whose level allows them to start directly at level A1 without taking the A1.1 course first will usually not need this revision.

Logically, A2 follows A1.

Each level has a set of competences to acquire in oral understanding, oral expression, written understanding and written expression. 

To acquire these competences, you need to work on activities that will progressively introduce the vocabulary, the grammar, the syntax... and also all the cultural and social elements, as they can not possibly be separated from the language itself.

Level A is mainly the level of concrete everyday life subjects.

What is the programme at level A1.1, level A1 and level A2?

I will not write the full programmes as it would be too long, but let's see some of the main objectives for each elementary level:

At the end of level A1.1, you will be able to:

Introduce yourself, understand familiar words and very common expressions about yourself, your family and your concrete and immediate environment,

- Understand public announcements, predictable instructions, standard recorded messages, repetitive information,

- Use simple sentences and expressions to describe where you live and the people you know,

- In the context of simple conversations, ask and answer simple questions on familiar subjects, tell about your situation (identity, marital status, …) use basic expressions of greeting and leave, ask some news about others,

- Provide information relating to your identity, marital status, in questionnaires or administrative forms,
- Understand and write texts consisting of one or two sentences containing familiar words and expressions...

You will learn the masculine and feminine, the difference between "tu" and "vous", and when to use them, the present tense, some everyday life vocabulary, you will learn to understand phone numbers, addresses, dates...

At the end of level A1, you will be able to:

- Take an appointment, on the phone for example, confirm it, reschedule it, cancel it,
- Make a reservation, order something, 
- Congratulate somebody, 
- Ask and answer questions about your agenda or someone's agenda,
- Talk about your personal tastes,
- Talk about your projects, using a tense called the "near future" (the equivalent of the English "I am going to... + verb"),
- Take some information about places,
- Describe people, talk about others,
- Give instructions,
- Use quantities and measures...

You will learn to write a letter to someone, for example a letter of invitation, read and understand cooking receipes, you will learn to use the near future, and also a past tense called the "passé composé", you will learn more particularly the verbs "to be", "to have", "to say", "to live", "to go", "to work", "to come", "to understand"..., you will learn how to ask questions starting with "who", "when", "where", "which", "how much", "why"... you will learn how to say "this is", "there is", "there are", the negation, rituals on the phone...

You will learn the vocabulary of:
- days, months, seasons,
- the time,
- personal and everyday life objects,
- countries and nationalities, 
- family, family relationships,
- everyday life activities,
- leisures, sports...,
- means of transport,
- travelling and going on holiday,
- food, cooking,
- clothes and accessories,
- the weather...

And many other subjects that will be very useful, if not indispensable, for your everyday life in France or any other francophone country, and/or will allow you to start having great conversations with French speaking people. 

At the end of level A2, you will be able to:

- Describe events and experiences that took place in the past,
- Talk about your future,
- Start giving your opinion about miscellaneous (simple) subjects,
- Express your feelings,
- Start describing things or objects which are not in your immediate environment, like monuments...,
- Exchange ideas and opinions about an outing,
- Express a disagreement about something,
- Give advice, ask for some advice,
- Talk about your work experience, your work environment,
- Tell about a souvenir,
- Compare things...

You will learn another past tense called the "imparfait", the three different groups of verbs in French, you will learn a verbal form used to give orders, you will start learning more about the "participe passé", you will learn to express a cause, a consequence, an opposition, an objective...

You will learn the vocabulary of:
- traditions and customs, 
- health,
- social relationships,
- events like TV news...
- money, payments...
- the school system...

And so much more!  😀

To know all about the cultural content of the lessons, please read this article.

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