Language levels: This is the right language level fo your easy-to-understand texts

How to better formulate texts in the appropriate language level

Comprehensibility is not a property of a text. A text is always comprehensible to the person reading it. Therefore, at capito we never examine a text on its own. We always consider the comprehensibility of a text in relation to the people for whom it is made: the target group.

capito digital helps you to write in such a way that you are understood by your target group. To do this, however, you need to know at which language level you can best reach them. We help you find the right language level and tell you how to simplify your texts!

What are the language levels?

In order to more clearly define the almost infinite variety of comprehensibility levels of a language, capito is guided by the CEFR. The CEFR is the “Common European Framework of Reference for Languages”.

Here the language is divided into the 3 “competence levels”:

  • Competence level A: Elementary language use
  • Competence level B: Independent use of language
  • Competence level C: Competent language use
Junge Frau sitzt am Computer und arbeitet an Online-Kurs - Sprachstufen - capito

There are also two levels within a competence level:

  • A1 – easiest level
  • A2
  • B1
  • B2
  • C1
  • C2 – highest complexity

For particularly comprehensible texts, the three easiest levels A1, A2 and B1 are decisive. capito digital tests texts for target groups who feel at home in the language levels A1, A2 and B1.

Level A1

A1 stands for the easiest level to understand. Only simple, familiar words and short sentences are used. The contents are summarised and reduced to the essentials.

Level A2

Information in A2 explains a particular topic in such a way that readers can understand the most important information and act accordingly. A2 is more detailed than A1 and explains many important terms in an easy-to-understand way.

Level B1

Information in B1 is understandable for most people. B1 corresponds to simple colloquial language. Technical terms and foreign words are avoided so that people who are not experts in a particular field can understand everything.

How many people understand which language level?

In the German-speaking world, 93 % of people understand language levels A1, A2, B1 and B2. Only 7 % of people understand language levels C1 and C2.

The big problem: 74 % of the information issued by companies and public authorities is written in C1 and C2 language levels!

This means that much of the information is not understood.

This is a problem. Because reading and understanding texts are essential prerequisites for an independent life.

What does your target group understand - regardless of language level?

If you want to write comprehensibly, you should first consider what problems of understanding there may be in your topic for your target group. Only use foreign words or abbreviations if they are very familiar to the target group. An example: If a text is intended as internal information for the employees of a company called “ABC”, it is possible to use “ABC” as well. Everyone knows what is meant by this abbreviation. However, if the text is intended as information for an external target group, for example as an advertising brochure, it must be explained what “ABC” means.

Also be careful with the use of metaphors, humour, sarcasm or irony. Those who have difficulty reading will have difficulties with these stylistic devices. Often the wording is taken quite literally, and misunderstandings are unfortunately the result.

You see: If you want to write comprehensibly, you should pay attention to more than just the language level!

What do I do if my target group consists of people who understand different levels of language?

In this case, we recommend letting the target group decide for themselves which language level is the right one. For this purpose, you offer the three easily understandable language levels A1, A2 and B1 in addition to your complex original information.

Person blickt auf ein Smartphone mit der geöffneten capito App

The best way to do this – as is often the case – is digitally: capito has developed an app that allows your target group to select their favourite language level – and also to switch between the levels again and again. Of course, this can also be integrated into your website.

How do you make a text understandable?

Before you start writing, think about the following things:

  1. Imagine a specific person from the target group and write mentally only for them.
  2. Define the goal of your text: What exactly do you want the target group to know, do, think or feel after reading the text?
  3. What does the target group already know about this topic?
  4. What does the target group not yet know, but should definitely know
  5. Which topic, word, formulation could be difficult to understand or sensitive for the target group?
  6. In what context will the target group read the text?
  7. What language level does my target group need?

One thing in advance: a simple and always correct assignment of people to language levels does not exist – thank God! People are different, language skills change or can be quite different depending on the topic, context or channel.

But there are a few simple check questions that will help you decide on a language level.

You want to know which language level is right for your target group?

Answer the questions and find out at which language level the target group of your information feels comfortable!

Please note that the result is only meant to support you. As mentioned earlier, different levels of language can be understood within a target group. You should consider the result as a tendency.