Self-Assessment with Can-Do Statements

At the Five College Center for World Languages, we talk about language proficiency in terms of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (see also: What is Language Proficiency?).  We focus especially on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for Speaking.  You can find all of the guidelines for speaking, writing, listening, and reading on ACTFL’s website.

Can-Do Statements

A helpful resource from ACTFL is their Can-Do Statements.  These self-assessment checklists are written in terms of simple “I can…” statements and give specific examples of what language learners can do at each level:

  • You will notice that the Can-Do Statements are divided into five different modes of communication.
  • If you are preparing for an oral evaluation, the Can-Do Statements for Interpersonal Communication (the first column) will be especially helpful.  You can download a PDF with a detailed checklist for Interpersonal Communication from the website.
  • You can use the Can-Do Statements to assess what level you think you are at now.  Then, look at the Can-Do Statements for the next level up and think about what skills you still need to work on to move up to that next level. 

Using Checklists

You can also use checklists for setting longer-term goals, based on things like:

  • What level of proficiency will you need in order to be successful in your study abroad program, internship, volunteer work, research project, career, or other future goals? 
  • What skills will you need to develop in order to reach that level of proficiency?  See How Long Does It Take? to get an idea of how much time it will take to reach your goals.

Other Scales for Rating Proficiency

While the Five College Center for World Languages focuses on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, there are other scales that are used to rate language proficiency, such as:

  • Depending on your career goals, you may find it helpful to become familiar with one of these scales.

Self-Assessment with Can-Do Statements - Video