ACTFL stands for the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. It is a professional organization for foreign language education that engage in a variety of activities to support, enhance, and advocate for foreign language teachers and learners. One of the activity for which ACTFL is has a remarkable reputation is language assessment. ACTFL has established guidelines for measuring language proficiency for learners in academic setting.
The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 sets out five levels of language proficiency in the four skill areas –speaking, listening, reading, and writing—and presents criteria for each level. The five levels can be roughly described as follows.
|Distinguished||Well-Educated Native Speaker|
|Advanced||Limited working skills|
|Intermediate||Can travel in the country|
If you like to check their link to find out what a speaker of each level sounds like, please go to: http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-2012
How do these proficiency levels translate to levels in a college foreign language program? It varies tremendously depending on the language, textbooks, environment, and instructional methods. For example, according to Watanabe’s study (1997), the levels of second year Japanese (having completed approximately 250 hours) ranges between Novice Mid to Novice High while those of the fourth year Japanese ranged between Novice High to Intermediate High. The Advanced level is considered to be a level that is hard to reach unless a learner spends a long time living in the target country.
In many less commonly taught languages, formal instruction goes up to a 200-level, which is roughly equated to the Intermediate level on the ACTFL scale. The modules contain materials aimed at the Advanced and Superior levels so that learners having completed a 200 level can continue to develop their reading and listening skills to reach the Advanced level. OLMO also provides materials at the Superior level for those who have been out of the formal instruction for a long time and wish to refresh and hone their language ability.