Intermediate and upper intermediate students have a stronger understanding of more specific or concrete topics than beginners, but there is lots of work to do before you'll be able to express feelings and understand more complex thoughts. At the intermediate and upper-intermediate levels, you have made great progress with your English, and you may be considering working in an English-speaking setting. But as with any learning process, practice is very important for upper intermediate students who want to be more advanced.
Your goal as an intermediate learner is to surround yourself with English, especially focusing on topics you are interested in or areas that you are planning to work in. Here are some strategies for continuing your English practice even as you reach the upper intermediate level:
Change the settings to English on your email and social media accounts as well as other devices such as your phone. This will force you to use English constantly, without having to make a choice.
Read as much as possible in English especially about subjects you're interested in. A good place to start is by reading a series for young adults, or the day-to-day news in a newspaper. These should be accessible to upper-intermediate students, although you'll have to look some words up. If you are studying or working in international finance, start reading the Financial Times or Wall Street Journal in English. Take notes and plan to discuss your opinion or thoughts on the pieces you’re reading.
Listen to audiobooks and podcasts that are of interest to you or within your field of expertise. Pause to note any words or phrases that you do not understand, and especially tune in to the tone of voice and emphasis on certain words. Some books and podcasts are more accessible to intermediate level students than others. News podcasts and young-adult fiction will be easier to understand than comedy, for example.
Have fun with it - go to karaoke! Learn the lyrics to your favorite English-speaking songs and sing out loud to a crowd. It's easy to find lyrics to any song online.
Find a colleague and prepare together for mock-job interviews or presentations in English. This will give you the opportunity to sell yourself in English—present your experience, education, strengths, weaknesses, goals, and career path. With an upper intermediate level, you could potentially work in an English-speaking environment, so this practice is very concrete.
Take the EF SET—and take it again as you continue to improve your English. The test is adaptive, so whether you're just barely at an intermediate level or you think you're at the upper edge of an upper-intermediate level, the test is for you. It includes tasks that measure your listening and reading skills, as well as your range of English grammar and vocabulary skills.
The best way to assess your level in English is to take a reliable standardized test. See below for a list of major recognized tests and their corresponding B1/B2 scores:
Score equivalent to the B1-B2 level¹
|EF SET Quick Check||61 - 85%|
|EF SET 50-min||41 - 60|
|IELTS||4.0 - 6.0|
|TOEIC (R&L) Total||550 - 940|
|Cambridge English Scale||140 - 179|
|TOEFL iBT||42 - 94|
|Global Scale of English (Pearson)||43 - 75|
For full score comparisons, please visit our English Score page