Although there are tests on the market that may yield a more detailed diagnosis than most teacher-made tests, unless they are pragmatic and relevant they often lead to overly specific skill set evaluations. In addition, the tests on the market are expensive and longer than necessary. Teacher-made tests may be highly subjective, but they are usually short, easy to use, and flexible. They can include exactly those items and areas that are appropriate to a specific situation and therefore be effective for the initial placement of the student.
The following contains a list of proficiency guidelines including language behaviors typical of students at various levels of proficiency. It is concise and fairly easy to use, and the items within it are expressed in a positive manner – in other words, it focuses on what the students can do at each level rather than on what they can’t do.
- Depends almost entirely upon gestures, facial expressions, objects, pictures, and often a translator in an attempt to understand and be understood.
- Occasionally comprehends simple oral and written words and phrases.
- Begins to comprehend more complex English, but only when speaker uses simultaneous gesture clues, speaks slowly, and repeats.
- Speaks with much hesitation if at all.
- Shows increasing recognition of written forms.
- May even be able to write short sentences.
- Is comprehending more and more in short social conversation, but with difficulty.
- Speaks to get basic needs met, but remains hesitant; makes frequent errors in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation; often falls silent.
- Can read very simple text.
- Can write a little, but very restricted in structure and vocabulary.
- may experience dramatic increase in social vocabulary recognition, both oral and written.
- has difficulty with idioms.
- Often knows what he or she wants to say but searches for appropriate words, both oral and written.
- Makes frequent errors in grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.
- Is often asked to repeat and is frequently misunderstood, orally and in writing.
- Is beginning to comprehend substantial parts of normal conversation but often requires repetitions, particularly in specific linguistic categories spoken at normal rates.
- Is beginning to gain confidence in speaking ability; errors are common but less frequent.
- Can read and write text that contains more complex vocabulary and structures; experiences difficulty with abstract language.
- (same as high intermediate above)
- Comprehends much conversational and academic discourse spoken at normal rates; sometimes requires repetition; idioms present less difficulty.
- Speaks more fluently but makes occasional errors; meaning is usually clear; at times uses vocabulary or structures inappropriately.
- Reads and writes with less difficulty materials that are commensurate with his or her cognitive development; demonstrates some problems in grasping intended meaning.
- Comprehends normal conversation and academic discourse with little difficulty; most idioms are understood.
- Speaks fluently in most situations with fewer errors; meaning is generally clear but experiences some regression at times.
- Reads and writes both concrete and abstract materials; is able to manipulate the language with relative ease.