The ACTFL (American Council of Teachers of Foreign Languages) proficiency
guidelines describe performance
in any given
Each description is a sample of a particular
range of ability, and each level subsumes all previous ones,
from the most simple to the most complex. What follows is a very simplified version of these guidelines.
- Novice: Able to understand some short, learned utterances. The Novice High comprehends words and phrases from simple questions, statements, high-frequency commands, and courtesy formulae.
- Intermediate: Able to understand sentence-length utterances
on a variety of topics. Content refers primarily to basic personal background and needs,
and some tasks, such as lodging, transportation, and shopping.
The Intermediate-High is also
able to understand longer stretches of connected discourse on a number of topics
pertaining to different times and places although in an uneven fashion.
- Advanced: Able to understand main ideas and most details on a variety of topics beyond the immediacy of the situation in simple conversations or speaches that
involve description and narration
The Advanced Plus is able
to understand the main ideas of most speech in a standard dialect; however, may fail to grasp sociocultural nuances.
- Superior: Able to understand the main ideas of all speech in a standard dialect,
including technical discussion in a field of specialization.
Can follow the essentials in academic/professional settings,
in lectures, speeches, and reports.
- Distinguished: Able to understand all forms and styles of speech pertinent
to personal, social, and professional needs. Texts include theater plays, screen productions, editorials,
symposia, academic debates, public policy statements, literary readings, and most jokes and puns.