A level for every student

Whatever your level, at El Patio there is a course that is just right for you. 

How can we be so sure? Because we run courses at virtually every level imaginable. 

El Patio levels

The levels at El Patio are organised according to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) scheme – Marco común europeo de referencia (MCER).

Our levels run sequentially according to language ability, from Elementary (for beginners) through to Proficiency (for those who have attained a level of Spanish equivalent to that of a native speaker).

All roads lead to Lima

If you've studied elsewhere or have spent time in a Spanish-speaking country, we can help you work out your level (see below). Then you can join in where you need to take your next step.

All coures are offered in a 10-week format (1.5 hours a week) and many are available in a 5-week Rápido format (3 hours a week) if you want to progress more quickly.

Level and grammar topics

Here is an overview of all our levels with the main grammar topics seen at each level. Only the key tenses are shown here. See the 'What to expect' section below for a more detailed overview of each level.

Online level tests

Where do I fit in?

If you're unsure of your level, have a look at our online level tests. Keep on going until it gets too hard (i.e. you get less than 50%).

We're also very happy to assess your level over the phone or in person – just get in touch.

'Get Set' for the next level

To help you prepare for the next level, we've created the 'Get Set' series.

These have an overview of what is seen at each level, as well as useful links to online resources and exercises.

What to expect

Elementary levels

In the Elementary levels you're introduced to the basics. You spend the first 3 levels (Elementary 1–3) getting the present tense firmly in place before introducing the first of the past tenses – the pretérito perfecto – in Elementary 4.

At this level you can expect to get a footing in the language, you become articulate in everyday expressions and language, and can order food and drink, find your way around cities, tell the time and ask for basic things. You can also introduce yourself and others and find out about other people – where they live, about the people they know and about the things they have.

By the end of the Elementary levels expect to be able interact in a simple way provided the other person talks slowly and clearly and is prepared to help. 

Lower Intermediate levels

The emphasis of the Lower Intermediate levels is on introducing the past tenses. The pretérito indefinido is introduced in Lower Intermediate 1 and in Lower Intermediate 3 and 4 you work with this tense alongside the pretérito perfecto, which was first introduced in Elementary 4. In Lower Intermediate 5 the pretérito imperfecto is introduced for the first time.

At this level expect to find greater confidence with your Spanish and to be able to understand sentences and frequently used expressions in common situations, such as when talking about your family, going shopping, describing local geography and talking about work. 

By the end of the Lower Intermediate levels expect to be able to describe in simple terms aspects of your background, immediate environment and other matters most relevant to you.

Upper Intermediate levels

In the Upper Intermediate levels you really expand the range of what you can talk about. In Upper Intermediate 1 you learn the futuro simple, in Upper Intermediate 2 you see the pluscuamperfecto and then in Upper Intermediate 3 the present subjunctive is introduced for the first time. The Upper Intermediate levels are also where you really consolidate the past tenses you learnt in the Lower Intermediate levels.

At this level expect to be able to understand native speakers talking at a normal pace about common situations. You start to express yourself and are able to talk about the things that matter to you.

By the end of the Upper Intermediate levels expect to be able to describe experiences and events, dreams, hopes and ambitions and briefly give reasons and explanations for opinions and plans.

Advanced levels

The final piece of the subjunctive puzzle is introduced in the Advanced levels with the imperfecto de subjuntivo. The conditional tense is also fully introduced here. In Advanced 3 you learn the future and conditional tenses in the their compound form and in Advanced 4 you learn the intricacies of the passive voice and reported speech. Over all, the Advanced levels bring together all aspects of the subjective mood, introducing all key aspects and uses.

At this level expect to be able to understand complex ideas on both concrete and abstract topics as well as topics relating to areas you specialise or are particularly involved in. You can interact with relative ease and spontaneity and don't struggle understanding native speakers or being understood by them.

By the end of the Advanced levels expect to be able to speak and write about a wide range of subjects and to be able to engage in discussion around the subjects and issues you feel most passionate about.

Superior & Proficiency levels


In the Superior levels you undertake the task of synthesising and deepening all grammar topics previously introduced in the lower levels. The subtle complexities, exceptions and details of the language are explored so as to solidify what you know and give you greater flexibility with your Spanish.

At this level expect to have a firm grasp on the language and to feel that Spanish is now your own. You can understand a wide range of demanding longer texts and recognise implicit meaning. You're able to express yourself fluidly and spontaneously without noticeable effort, and are able to use your Spanish flexibly and effectively in most spheres of your life such as in social, academic and professional contexts.

By the end of the Superior levels expect to be able to be able to speak and write in a detailed and in-depth way about complex topics.


In the Proficiency levels you operate in Spanish almost as you do in your first language. You've learnt all the necessary structures of the language and are now immersed in the process of refining and polishing your Spanish. This level of learning is about spending time with the language and becoming intimate and precise with how you use it in a wide range of contexts.

At this level expect to understand virtually everything you hear or read. You're able to reflect on the world around you and summarise information and reconstruct arguments and accounts coherently.

By the end of these levels expect your Spanish to be almost completely indiscernible from that of a native speaker, being able to express yourself spontaneously, very fluently and precisely, differentiating finer shades of meaning even in more complex situations.


Elementary 1 – Elementary 4 (4 levels)

Aula Internacional Plus 1/A1 English Ed. 2020 

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Lower Intermediate 1–5 (5 levels) 

Aula International Plus 2/A2, Libro del alumno Ed. 2020

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Upper Intermediate 1–6+ (6 levels + )

Aula Internacional Plus 3, Libro del alumno Ed. 2020

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Advanced 1–3 (3 levels + )

Aula Internacional Plus 4/B2.1 Libro del alumno Ed. 2020

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Advanced 4–6 (3 levels + )

Aula Internacional Plus 5/B2.2 Libro del alumno Ed. 2020

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Superior 1–6+ (6 levels + )

Vitamina C1 

Take your Spanish further

If you're super keen or need to have your level of Spanish officially certified, the DELE exams through the Instituto Cervantes are excellent. 

We support students preparing for these exams in a number of ways. Contact us to find out more.

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