The Classroom Teacher can best serve AND MOTIVATE his/her students by FOCUSING on what students CAN DO with their language. The GOAL is to help students use their language (a combination of vocabulary and grammar structures acquired) to DO AUTHENTIC, MEANINGFUL, RELEVANT, REAL-WORLD TASKS.

Knowing and understanding the Student's current level of proficiency tells you what you can reasonably expect them to do well. To stretch that proficiency level, they must have CONSISTENT PRACTICE doing the next rung on that proficiency ladder.

Below you'll find my list of task expectations based on a student's proficiency level. To acquire the "language" to do any task, the student has to practice it over and over again. ONE CHAPTER IS NOT ENOUGH practice or time to "acquire" the skill. The very basic activities below can be practiced at all levels -- how well the student completes the task is a measure of their "functional language ability". Remember, you're listening for the quality and quantity of vocabulary and structures used, not just pronunciation. Is the language student-created or just memorized, highly-practiced phrases?

Here are a few ideas about what these levels can do. Give them plenty of opportunities (in speaking and in writing) to meet the expectations of their level and add activities to practice at the next level. REPEAT THE SAME TASKS EVERY CHAPTER (EX: In my Spanish 3 - they will introduce themselves, describe in detail, tell a past story with sequencing and description, share some opinions and give advice, ask and answer questions at some point in every chapter. At the end of this year, those are the 5 tasks I want them to be able to do at some level). DECIDE for your classes, what are the "MUST BE ABLE TO DO" tasks that you will consistently practice to move them to the next level?

NOVICE: (need lots of comprehensible input)
  • Introduce themselves with highly-practiced, memorized phrases
  • Describe very familiar people and places
  • Tell likes and dislikes
  • Give lists, enumerate items
  • Very short, simple phrases or sentences, memorized phrases
  • Answer questions with Yes-No, one-word or short phrases, rarely asks questions

  • Introduce themselves - talk about themselves in more detail
  • Describe friends, family members, activities, home, community, school with some detail
  • Tell likes and dislikes, give reasons or details - some elaboration
  • Speaks in sentences, or strings of sentences
  • Describes regular, habitual activities, daily routines
  • Asks and answers questions (interpersonal skills developing)
  • Can do some narration with sequencing
  • Give advice, recommendations - share opinions - agree/disagree (The samples below for GIVE ADVICE demonstrate how any task can be done at varying levels of proficiency. Tasks should be open ended, don't tell students "how to do it" or "what grammar to use." They will show you what they know but what THEY DO.).
    • Present Tense: debes .... necesitas .... hay que .... tienes que.....
    • Imperative/Commands
    • Subjunctive: Es importante que.... es necesario que.... te sugiero que.... te aconsejo que ....
  • CREATES LANGUAGE! Combines vocabulary with known grammar - MESSAGE is more important than form. They will make many, many errors. Syntax will resemble native language. Infinitives often substitute for conjugated verbs. Minimal use of pronouns.

  • Can speak in 3 time frames (past, present, future - could use acabar de / ir a)
  • Speaks in well-organized sentences of paragraph-length
  • Can tell a descriptive story in the past with sequencing and transitions
  • Can support statements/opinions with structured rationale
  • Can manage an unexpected situation - uses circumlocution if challenged by vocabulary

Greg Duncan has created student-friendly descriptors that you might use with students. Also available on the "Resources and Rubrics" page are the Concordia Language resources: posters and student-binder inserts as well as I CAN statement checklists for students to use.