In this episode I walk through the ACTFL Proficiency Levels and Performance Descriptors.
What are they?
The ACTFL Performance Descriptors (Can Do’s) for Language Learners…
- Describe language performance that is the result of instruction in a classroom setting
- Reflect how language learners perform in various learning environments.
How are they used in teaching and learning?
- Help teachers create performance tasks targeted to the performance range, while also challenging learners to use strategies from the next next level up (Krashen, i+1).
- Teachers can set realistic expectations at the summative assessment level.
- Describe a pathway for learners to keep track of progress, identify areas that need more attention, and have a clear understanding of how to move to the next level.
How are they designed?
The ACTFL Performance Descriptors:
- “Describe the language performance of language learners in Standards-based, performance-oriented learning environments”
- “Provide descriptive performance outcomes adaptable to fit differences in languages and learners” (Any language at any level)
How are they organized?
- Three levels – Novice, Intermediate, Advanced Range (and superior, but for our purposes)
- Three Modes of Communication – Interpersonal, Interpretive, Presentational (episode 8)
What is involved with each proficiency level?
- Functions (global tasks the learner can perform in the language)
- Contexts (learner can function) and Content (topics)
- Text Type (that which the learner is able to understand and produce in order to perform the functions of the level)
Interpersonal Proficiency Levels:
- Function: Can ask highly predictable and formulaic questions and respond to such questions by listing, naming, and identifying. (May show emerging evidence …)
- Context: Able to function in some personally relevant contexts on topics that relate to basic biographical information.
- Text Type: Understands and produces highly practiced words and phrases and an occasional sentence.
- Function: Consistently able to initiate, maintain, and end a conversation to satisfy basic needs and/or to handle a simple transaction.
- Context: Able to communicate in contexts relevant to oneself and others, and one’s immediate environment.
- Text Type: Able to understand and produce discrete sentences, strings of sentences and some connected sentences. Able to ask questions to initiate and sustain conversations.
- Function: Can communicate with ease and confidence by understanding and producing narrations and descriptions in all major time frames and deal efficiently with a situation with an unexpected turn of events
- Context: Content areas include topics of personal and general interest (community, national, and international events) as well as work-related topics and areas of special competence.
- Text Type: Able to understand and produce discourse in full oral paragraphs that are organized, cohesive, and detailed.
How to use Proficiency Levels (Performance Descriptors) in the classroom
- Unit Can Do (focus on function and text type); global tasks the learner can perform in the language and the language they need to do it
- Assessments (stay with the range)
- Activities: Too low or too high leads to lack of or limited engagement.
- wlclassroom.com/ican — walks through writing I can statements that are truly communicative and there is a link to the ACTFL Performance Descriptors
- wlclassroom.com/levelup — shows what language looks like at each proficiency level and what students can focus on (or do) to level up.