Tag Archives: intermediate

Supporting Proficiency Growth in the Language Classroom

One of our priorities as language teachers is to support students in their efforts to communicate proficiently and with confidence. Though this can seem to be very lofty objective, there are practical procedures that we can implement to facilitate students’ progression to higher proficiency levels. These techniques and approaches offer guidance for teachers looking to empower their students on the path to proficiency.

Supporting Proficiency Growth in the Language Classroom (French, Spanish)

Language Proficiency

Before we jump into the strategies, let’s take a moment to consider language proficiency. How do you currently assess your students’ proficiency levels? Are you familiar with the ACTFL guidelines and their descriptions of Novice, Intermediate, and Advanced proficiency? It’s crucial to have a clear understanding of where your students are and where you want them to go. Take look at this blog post to see what language text types look like at the various proficiency levels.  You can also learn all about the proficiency levels in this podcast episode.

Let’s explore some strategies that will support students in leveling up their proficiency..

Novice Proficiency: Building a Strong Foundation

  • Comprehensible Input: Novice-level students thrive on comprehensible input. This means providing them with language that they can understand, even if it’s slightly beyond their current proficiency level. Engage them with simple stories, visuals, and gestures that make the language come alive.
  • Repetition and Recycling: Repetition is key for Novice learners. Encourage students to practice vocabulary and phrases repeatedly through games, dialogues, and interactive activities.

Intermediate Proficiency: Moving Toward Independence

  • Authentic Communication: As students progress to the Intermediate level, shift the focus to authentic communication. Encourage them to express opinions, share experiences, and engage in conversations.
  • Expanding Vocabulary: Intermediate learners benefit from expanding their vocabulary. Introduce them to synonyms, idiomatic expressions, and culturally relevant words and phrases.

Practical Strategies to Empower Students in Increasing Proficiency

Integrated Skills: Encourage students to read texts, watch videos, and engage in discussions that require them to use all aspects of language – listening, speaking, reading, and writing.

Cultural Context: Connect language proficiency to cultural context. Help students understand how language is used in real-life situations within different cultures.

Feedback and Assessment: Provide timely and constructive feedback. Give students specific comments on their language use, highlighting areas for improvement.

Self-Assessment: Have students reflect on their language progress and set goals for improvement.

Peer Collaboration: Arrange activities that require students to work together, provide feedback to each other, and learn from their peers.

Celebrate Progress:  Celebrate progress, no matter how small. Recognize students’ achievements and growth in proficiency. Whether it’s an improved pronunciation or successfully navigating a conversation, acknowledging their efforts boosts confidence.

Putting It All Together

Supporting students’ proficiency growth is a dynamic journey. It involves understanding their current proficiency levels, scaffolding their learning, and fostering a supportive and engaging classroom environment. As language teachers, we have the privilege of guiding our students along this exciting path, equipping them with the skills and confidence to become proficient communicators.

Help Students’ Foreign Language Writing Rise from Novice to Intermediate (SlideShare)

Help Students' Foreign Language Writing Rise from Novice to Intermediate (SlideShare) (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comThese activities will scaffold foreign language writing from the novice to the intermediate level through guided sentence writing.   The content is left up the writer.  Check out the SlideShare Presentation below for details.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity that Moves Students from Novice to Intermediate

At the novice level, students are speaking with single words and lists initially, then move on to chunked phrases.  As students move up to the intermediate proficiency level they begin to create discrete sentences on their own that move beyond chunked phrases.  This tends to be the most challenging for students as they begin to create with language and are not relying on memorized phrases to chunk together.  Teachers can help scaffold this process for students by assisting them in creating sentences.

Foreign Language Speaking Activity that Moves Students from Novice to Intermediate (French, Spanish) www.wlclassroom.comI have found that using question words with students is a simple and effective way to have students add details to their sentences that move from memorized, chunked phrases to discrete sentences that are created by the student.  The more they do this the more they will grow in confidence and begin to do it on their own when writing.

Here is a version of Memory (or concentration) with a twist. Instead of using pictures and words this version uses verb forms.  Half of the cards have a subject pronoun and an infinitive. The other cards have the correct verb form to match each subject/verb pair.  Along with the conjugated verb forms are 2 or 3 questions words as well as an affirmative or negative symbol [(+) (-)]. 

In order for the player to win the pair he or she  must say a complete sentence that includes the subject and correct verb form as well as the information from the question words and in the negative if indicated. If the player is not able to make a complete sentence he does not get the pair of cards and must turn them back over.  The winner is the player who has the most cards when all of the cards have been claimed.  The verb cards look like this:


This activity helps move student speaking from the novice level to the intermediate level by showing them how easily and effectively they can can speak in complete, discrete sentences.

You can download resources to use with this proficiency-building activity by clicking the links below.