iFLT 2018 – Linda Li “A Pathway to Proficiency” Session

LINDA LI – Check her out on TWITTER

Understand the difference between performance and proficiency


  • Teach them something first and they show you how they know what you taught
  • Memorized
  • Output-based but not a good measure of acquired language
  • Linda Li “Rehearsed ability to communicate in specific, and familiar setting”


  • How well can your students do “off the cuff”?  (speed, fluency, accuracy, pronunciation)
  • Unrehearsed general ability to accomplish real-world communication tasks across a wide range of topics and settings.

EXAMPLES  of TASKS – Are they Performance or Proficiency?

● Describes what the language learner can demonstrate based on what was learned. Performance

● To be a categorized on a certain level must demonstrate consistent patterns of all the criteria for a given level, all of the time. Proficiency

● Tasks are non-rehearsed situations. Proficiency

● Tasks are derived from the language functions and vocabulary that learners have practiced or rehearsed but which are applied to other tasks within familiar contexts. Performance

● Contexts and content are those that are appropriate for the given level. Proficiency

● To be evaluated within a range must be able to demonstrate the features of the domains of a given range in those contexts and content areas that have been learned and practiced. Performance

● Describes what the language user can do regardless of where, when or how the language was acquired. Proficiency

● Content-based on what was learned, practiced or rehearsed, all within a context similar but not identical to how learned. Performance




(OPI – ONLY High School and adults)



Novice & Intermediate – Needs a Sympathetic Listener to listen and negotiate meaning

Intermediate – begin to CREATE but with errors and mistakes

Advanced – Natives are not confused and understand the speaker

Superior – Can handle linguistically unfamiliar situations, abstract topics and academic language



“4% of native speakers are at Superior Proficiency Level”



Advanced can have errors (will have errors.)

Advanced cannot have a PATTERN of errors.



The point of view of the speaker and/or their ability to expand their communication.




  1. INTERMEDIATE – “Tell me about…” (requires sentences) Who is your best friend? (NOVICE – one-word answer)
  2. NOVICE – list of words
  3. ADVANCED – Across time frames
  4. SUPERIOR – opinion and defense of opinion





Fallen Angel – They can function at the next level but they cannot sustain.



  1. Novice High – chunked sentences, some phrase with some phrases
  2. Novice Mid – single word, then a phrase, memorized chunk of language
  3. Intermediate High or Advanced – fallen angel? – the level depends on patterns and other examples to determine
  4. Novice Low – a one-word answer
  5. Intermediate Mid – covers more than one time frame, more complex thoughts – double adjectives
  6. Intermediate Low – speaking in sentences


What Proficiency level???


Intermediate Low – You could switch the sentences around. One thought sentences



Intermediate High – Conjunctions, compound sentences, better organized



INPUT,  INPUT,  and more INPUT





in a Novice Class – Floor is NOVICE language, Test the ceiling occasionally

  • no open-ended questions, try an open-ended question sometimes but build up to those questions
  • at the end of the class bring them back to the floor

This is why you need to know their proficiency level so you know where is the “ceiling” and where is the “floor.”



Formulate questions on purpose that on the scale from RECALL to ANALYZE




Risk -Intermediate Proficiency level is MESSY and full of mistakes/errors because they are starting to create.

Expression – Encourage them to stay in the Spanish language

Action – Movement, TPR, Brain Breaks

Laughter – Fun, affective filters low





Let them know what they need to do to get to the next level.



POSTERS – https://leveluplanguage.weebly.com/performance-feedback-tools.html

Download the poster and send to a store to create a poster. (Staples, Vistaprint etc.)




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