ACTFL Proficiency Levels

The simplified leveling system used in Introduction to Oral Proficiency Levels is based on the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines for Speaking. Please keep in mind that levels are cumulative, with each level encompassing the skills of the previous level(s).

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ACTFL Proficiency Levels

ACTFL Speaking Proficiency Levels

ACTFL Level

Features of Speaker Performance

Novice Low/Mid

  • Produce words and phrases
  • Communicate by repeating conversation partner’s words and with learned utterances

Novice High

  • Sometimes but not consistently maintain simple conversation
  • Communicate via a combination of learned utterances and spontaneous language in the present

Intermediate Low/Mid

  • Maintain simple conversation
  • Express own meaning
  • Produce complete sentences or strings of sentences in present tense
  • Control basic vocabulary related to familiar topics (e.g., home, family, school)
  • Comprehensible to people who have experience with language learners

Intermediate High

  • Tell stories about past events; keep discourse in past tense most of the time
  • Explain and describe in detail sometimes but not consistently
  • Produce coherent discourse across groups of sentences most of the time
  • Comprehensible to people who may not have experience with language learners

Advanced Low/Mid

  • Tell stories about past events; keep discourse in past tense
  • Express (and sometimes support) opinions on abstract issues
  • Explain and describe in detail
  • Produce coherent discourse across groups of sentences
  • Control distinction between preterite and imperfect in context of storytelling
  • Comprehensible to people who may not have experience with language learners

Advanced High/Superior

  • Express opinions about abstract/controversial issues
  • Support opinions about abstract/controversial issues in response to objections/arguments
  • Produce coherent argumentation in extended discourse
  • Use anecdotes only to support arguments, not in place of them
  • Control use of subjunctive and other low-frequency or complex structures
  • Easily use paraphrasing and other strategies to compensate for gaps in lexical knowledge
  • Errors still present, but do not distract from the content of the discourse

Note: Some ACTFL levels have been combined to provide a broad understanding of speakers at those levels. For detailed descriptions of each level, see the ACTFL Proficiency Guideline for Speaking. You can also view video clips of interviews in English for each level.

Introduction to Oral Proficiency Levels                                       www.oralproficiency.coerll.utexas.edu