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I thought "intermediate" was the appropriate label for the second of a three-level system of grading skills level, but I just saw a CV template on which the levels are defined as "basic", "medium", and "advanced". This made me wonder which one is more appropriate.

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Medium is defined as "something intermediate in nature or degree." I'd say the two words are entirely interchangable. –  Urbycoz Feb 26 '13 at 14:28
    
@Urbycoz: Perhaps it goes without saying, but I'll mention it anyway: the two words are entirely interchangable in this context. (I wouldn't order "eggs over intermediate", e.g., or say that my nephew is in "medium school".) –  J.R. Feb 26 '13 at 16:13
    
I just reedited your question to include the words you think ought to be there. Sorry you didn't like my first edit: I had no intention of changing your meaning, just clarifying it. The meaning of this second edited version is the same as the meaning of the first, just in British English and using "skills level" (that's the BrE) instead of "proficiency" (that's just EFL/ESL jargon). If you still don't like it, then please just reedit it yourself. –  user21497 Feb 26 '13 at 16:53

3 Answers 3

up vote 3 down vote accepted

Intermediate is used for skill level.

he is taking a class in intermediate ballroom dance.

Medium is used for measurements like clothes size or temperature.

set your microwave at high, not medium, to warm up your soup.

the shirt is medium size for an adult but extra large for a teenager.

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I give you the accepted answer because I'm mad at Bill Franke. He edited my question just for fit his answer, when I wasn't talking about language proficiency, rather about skills level. –  yzT Feb 26 '13 at 13:45
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@yzT It’s your question: if you don’t like the edit, feel perfectly free to edit it back into saying what you want it to say. –  tchrist Feb 26 '13 at 13:52
    
Franke took a word from your title and moved it to the text. Not a major change in my opinion –  mplungjan Feb 26 '13 at 14:00
    
@yzT: I'm sorry that you're mad at me for making your question clear. Just to set the record straight, language proficiency and skills level are synonymous terms in the language teaching profession. As tchrist pointed out, you are free to reject any edits that you don't like. You won't hurt my feelings if you point out that I've made a mistake. However, you do yourself a disservice when you point out that you're angry because you preferred to ask an unclear question and didn't want it made clearer. –  user21497 Feb 26 '13 at 15:10

For those of us who teach EFL/ESL, the three terms are generally Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced. However, Basic, Intermediate, and Fluent are equally acceptable. Medium is no good, IMHO, except when talking about how you like the yolk in your fried egg cooked: over medium, or how you like your steak broiled: medium (rare) = pink, not bloody dark red.

Fluent comes in two flavors, however. Some people are workplace fluent (they can read and write as well as speak and understand fluent professional job-related English) and others are practically native-speaker fluent (they can speak, understand, read, and write as well as any educated native speaker and understand cultural references as well as relatively arcane idioms).

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The Linguafolio project aims to create a standard L2 assessment in the US along the lines of the EU's proficiency description. The Common European Framework of Reference for languages, the European Language Portfolio, and Europass use such a system. The levels go from A1 ("beginner") to C2 ("native/near native" proficiency).

The assessment asks L2 speakers to respond to sets of statements beginning with "I can," such as "I can answer personal questions about my name, where I live, and how old I am," all the way to things like "I can edit a business letter in technical terms appropriate to my field." Students complete an ongoing self-evaluation, and part of the assessment is usually completed by a native speaker.

The rubric, if you will, is a growing (not really pet at this point, I hope) project with many FL departments in different American colleges and universities. I hope the resources will help you in your self-assessment.

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