ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines

NOVICE

Novice speakers can communicate on very familiar topics using a variety of words and phrases that they have practiced and memorized. They can present information about themselves and some other very familiar topics using a variety of words, phrases, and memorized expressions. They can write lists and memorized phrases on familiar topics. They can recognize some familiar words and phrases when they hear them spoken. They can understand some learned or memorized words and phrases when they read.

INTERMEDIATE

Intermediate speakers can participate in conversations on familiar topics using sentences and series of sentences. They can handle short social interactions in everyday situations by asking and answering a variety of questions. They can usually say what they want to say about themselves and their everyday life. They can make presentations on a wide variety of familiar topics using connected sentences. They can write on a wide variety of familiar topics using connected sentences. They can understand the main idea in messages and presentations on a variety of topics related to everyday life and personal interests and studies. They can understand the main idea in conversations that they overhear. They can understand the main idea of texts related to everyday life and personal interests or studies.

SURVIVAL language is the criterion for this level. A native speaker accustomed to foreigners can understand the intermediate speaker. Intermediate speakers have only little control of major grammatical structures; but they can say a lot of things — not just a few — simply, and a whole range of personal-welfare things. With limited vocabulary, they can handle the three phases: get into, through, and out of a practical situation (for example, get a hotel room or a taxi, find out closing times, order a basic meal, etc.).

ADVANCED

Advanced speakers can express themselves fully not only on familiar topics but also on some concrete social, academic, and professional topics. They can talk in detail and in an organized way about events and experiences in various time frames. I can confidently handle routine situations with an unexpected complication. They can share their point of view in discussions on some complex issues. 

They can deliver well-organized presentations on concrete social, academic, and professional topics. They can present detailed information about events and experiences in various time frames. They can write on a wide variety of general interest, professional, and academic topics. They can write well-organized, detailed paragraphs in various time frames.

They can understand the main idea and most supporting details on a variety of topics of personal and general interest, as well as some topics of professional interest, through listening. They can follow stories and descriptions of some length and in various time frames. They can understand information presented in most genres, even when not familiar with the topic. They can understand the main idea and most supporting details in written texts on a variety of topics of personal and general interest, as well as some professional topics. They can follow stories and descriptions of considerable length and in various time frames. They can understand texts written in a variety of genres, even when they are unfamiliar with the topic.

A typical task for an Advanced speaker is having to persuade someone to do something, or at least put up a good argument, when that person doesn't want to do it. Example: trying to convince a resistant store clerk to take back a defective article.

SUPERIOR

Superior speakers can communicate with ease, accuracy, and fluency. They can participate fully and effectively in discussions on a variety of topics in formal and informal settings. They can discuss at length complex issues by structuring arguments and developing hypotheses. They can deliver detailed presentations with accuracy, clarity, and precision to a wide variety of audiences on topics and issues ranging from broad general interests to areas of specialized expertise. They can write about complex and abstract issues ranging from topics of broad general interests to areas of specialized expertise using standard structure, lexicon, and writing protocols.

They can follow a wide range of academic and professional discourse on abstract and specialized topics. they can understand all standard dialects. I can sometimes infer complex meaning that requires deep understanding of the culture. They can follow academic, professional, and literary texts on a wide range of both familiar and unfamiliar subjects. They can sometimes infer complex meaning that requires analysis and deep understanding of the culture.

SUPERIOR speakers can handle unfamiliar situations and hypothetical questions ("What would you do if...?"), and give instructions for or explanations of complex situations. While speakers in all these categories do make varying numbers of mistakes, a rating of SUPERIOR implies a high, if not perfect, degree of accuracy.