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ACTFL Proficiency Scales

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Jesus Robla Vicario

on 17 October 2017

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Transcript of ACTFL Proficiency Scales

What's the use of this scale?
At the Superior level, readers are able to
understand texts from many genres
dealing with a wide range of subjects, both familiar and unfamiliar. Comprehension is
no longer limited to the reader’s familiarity with subject
matter, but also comes from a command of the language that is supported by a
broad vocabulary
, an
understanding of complex structures
knowledge of the target culture
. Readers at the Superior level can
draw inferences from textual and extralinguistic clues
Superior-level readers understand texts that use precise, often
specialized vocabulary
complex grammatical structures
. These texts feature
supported opinion
, and
, and use
abstract linguistic formulations
as encountered in academic and professional reading. Such texts are typically reasoned and/or analytic and may frequently contain
cultural references
Superior-level readers are able to understand
lengthy texts of a professional, academic, or literary nature
. In addition, readers at the Superior level are generally
aware of the aesthetic properties of language
and of its
literary styles
, but
may not fully understand texts in which cultural references and assumptions are deeply embedded.

The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines are
descriptions of what individuals can do with language
in terms of speaking, writing, listening, and reading in real-world situations in a
and non-rehearsed context.
This is
not based on any particular theory
pedagogical method
or educational curriculum
They are an
instrument for
of functional language ability.
The Reading Proficiency Guidelines describe
what readers are able to understand from what they read
describe how reading skills develop, how one learns to read, nor the actual cognitive processes involved in reading.
Superior Level
Superior Level
Sample Text
Should a private corporation (
) become the librarian for the world’s collected knowledge? Even if it offers to play nice, share revenues, and make books easily accessible now, what about in the future? (...)
Readers must be able to
process a reasoned, thoughtful argument about an abstract topic
cultural references
(Google, Library of Congress). They must also understand the author’s use of precise and
specialized vocabulary
(in perpetuity) and
complex grammatical structures
(And no matter how good protections may sound at the outset, what assurance is there that Google’s policy won’t change in the future?).
deal with subject matter that is most likely unfamiliar.
comprehension comes in part from command of the language that is supported by a broad vocabulary and an understanding of more complex structures
knowledge of the target culture.

The Guidelines describe the
tasks that wri
an handle
at each level as well as the content, context, accuracy, and discourse types. They also present the
limits that writers encoun
hen attempting to function at the next le
The Guidelines describe
the product rather than the process
or purpose of the writing.
Able to produce most kinds
of formal and informal correspondence, in-depth summaries, reports, and research papers on a variety of social, academic, and professional topics. Their treatment of these issues moves beyond the concrete to the abstract.
Ability to explain complex matters
, and to
present and support opinions
by developing cogent arguments and hypotheses.
Effective use of structure, lexicon, and writing protocols
Organizational and developmental principles (e.g., cause and effect, comparison, chronology).
Capable of extended treatment of a topic which typically
(from a series of paragraphs to a number of pages.
Writers at the Superior level demonstrate a high degree of control of grammar and syntax, of both general and specialized/professional vocabulary, of spelling or symbol production, of cohesive devices, and of punctuation. Their vocabulary is precise and varied. Writers at this level
direct their writing to their audiences
Writers at the Superior level do not typically control target-language cultural, organizational, or stylistic patterns.
No pattern of error; however, occasional errors may occur
, particularly in low-frequency structures.
These errors do not interfere with comprehension!!!!!

Superior Level
Superior Level
Sample Text
Years ago this community was homogeneous. In most cases at least one parent or a grandparent stayed at home so that there was supervision of the students at all times. In today’s environment, the parents, largely new immigrants, find it necessary to work two jobs each and do not have the support network of close family members in the vicinity. The alienation that the newly arrived parents feel as they work in environments that are not pleasant combined with long hours causes them to arrive home feeling besieged on most days.(...)
social topic–the plight of immigrant families. abstractly and concretely
variety of sentence structures (They silently wonder why...)
complex syntax (Despite having brought their children to this country...)
and vocabulary (besieged)
strong awareness of writing for the audience
relationship among ideas consistently clear
high degree of control of grammar
sporadic errors (understand the immigrants point of view)
do not interfere with the communication or distract the reader
Analysis conclusion
... being done this is measured by the so called proficiency tests, language courses can actually focus on training for the exams themselves. If this is the case, then the exam will lose its reliability and some language learners will be classified above their actual level. Which produces the devaluation of the exam achievements and the selection of unqualified personnel.
The tests focus in evaluating actual language skills.
The evaluating methods comprehend formal (semantic, grammatical and stylistical) and contextual skills (how knowledge of the culture that allows us to improve our communication with its members)
Who determines what vocabulary or structures are more "advanced" or more "complex"?
The test structure and evaluating items can be trained.
The ACTFL Language Proficiency Scale is a tool that evaluates non-native learners' actual language ability under real-life linguistic situations. This is useful to better know what kind of linguistic performance you can expect from somebody and which are the speakers limitations in terms of language on the different skills (reading, writing, listening and speaking).

This might allow teachers keep track of their students' improvement, employers know the kind of linguistic performance they can expect from potential employees and also help language students be aware of their communicative limitations so they can set up new goals, just to mention a few uses.
Although achieving the SUPERIOR level
is not an easy task
, lots of job opportunities, scholarships and academic programs require it. Therefore, some language schools offer proficiency-exam-focused language courses.
It is in fact a very logic and useful tool for measuring language skill.
Why does it happen?
How can we prevent this from happening?
Employers and academic foundations should
check their demands
, since sometimes they ask for more proficiency than they actually need and everybody can see the evaluating items. Achieving Superior-level standards is easier said than done.
Language teaching centers should be
aware of the damage
that test-training courses bring to actual language learning and to the working and academic societies by furnishing it with untrained people.
ACTFL Proficiency Scales
Reading and Writing
Group 2
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