ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines

Novice Low (NL)

Students communicate using isolated words and some high-frequency phrases with very limited communicative ability.

Novice Mid (NM)

Students communicate using memorized words and phrases to talk about familiar topics related to school, home, and the community. Students are able to speak and write using short sentences that contain learned words and phrases. They are able to understand the target language when it is spoken in short, simple phrases and sentences and contain many cognates and memorized phrases and words.

Novice High (NH)

Students communicate using words, lists, and simple sentences to ask and answer questions, to handle simple transactions related to everyday life, and to talk about subject matter studied in other classes. Students are able to speak and write using short sentences that contain learned words and phrases. They are able to understand the target language when it is spoken in short, simple phrases and sentences.

Intermediate Low (IL)

Students communicate using simple sentences to ask and answer questions, to handle simple transactions related to everyday life, and to talk about subject matter studied in other classes. Students are able to participate in simple conversational situations using sentences and groups of sentences. They can create with the target language by combining and recombining learned phrases and words. They can understand the main ideas when listening to conversations dealing with familiar topics or themes.

Intermediate Mid (IM)

Students communicate using strings of sentences to ask and answer questions, to handle simple transactions related to everyday life, and to talk about subject matter studied in other classes. Students can initiate and sustain conversations by making statements, asking questions, and giving appropriate responses. They can communicate using appropriate time frames on everyday topics both orally and in writing. They are able to understand the main ideas and significant details in extended discussions and presentations both live and recorded.

Intermediate High (IH)

Students are able to converse with ease and confidence when dealing with the routine tasks and social situations of the Intermediate level. They are able to handle successfully uncomplicated tasks and social situations requiring an exchange of basic information related to their work, school, recreation, particular interests, and areas of competence.

Advanced Low (AL)

Students at the Advanced Low sublevel are able to handle a variety of communicative tasks. They are able to participate in most informal and some formal conversations on topics related to school, home, and leisure activities. They can also speak about some topics related to employment, current events, and matters of public and community interest. Advanced Low speakers demonstrate the ability to narrate and describe in the major time frames of past, present, and future in paragraph-length discourse with some control of aspect.

Advanced Mid (AM)

Students at the Advanced Mid sublevel are able to handle with ease and confidence a large number of communicative tasks. They participate actively in most informal and some formal exchanges on a variety of concrete topics relating to work, school, home, and leisure activities, as well as topics relating to events of current, public, and personal interest or individual relevance. Advanced Mid speakers demonstrate the ability to narrate and describe in the major time frames of past, present, and future by providing a full account, with good control of aspect. Narration and description tend to be combined and interwoven to relate relevant and supporting facts in connected, paragraph-length discourse.

Advanced High (AH)

Students at the Advanced High sublevel perform all Advanced-level tasks with linguistic ease, confidence, and competence. They are consistently able to explain in detail and narrate fully and accurately in all time frames. In addition, Advanced High speakers handle the tasks pertaining to the Superior level but cannot sustain performance at that level across a variety of topics. They may provide a structured argument to support their opinions, and they may construct hypotheses, but patterns of error appear. They can discuss some topics abstractly, especially those relating to their particular interests and special fields of expertise, but in general, they are more comfortable discussing a variety of topics concretely.

Superior (S)

Students at the Superior level are able to communicate with accuracy and fluency in order to participate fully and effectively in conversations on a variety of topics in formal and informal settings from both concrete and abstract perspectives. They discuss their interests and special fields of competence, explain complex matters in detail, and provide lengthy and coherent narrations, all with ease, fluency, and accuracy. They present their opinions on a number of issues of interest to them, such as social and political issues, and provide structured arguments to support these opinions. They are able to construct and develop hypotheses to explore alternative possibilities.