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College of Arts & Sciences
Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures


ACTFL Proficiency Levels

I. How do I advance through the ACTFL proficiency levels?

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Below are the specific language/skills tasks that you need to master as you advance through ACTFL proficiency levels.

For tips on practical ways to improve your Spanish proficiency, go here [How to progress]

I am at the Novice level. I can… To get to the Intermediate level, I will need to…
  • Ask simple, memorized questions
  • Answer using one-word, or memorized phrases
  • Convey meaning in limited and basic situations (e.g., I am hungry. I am tired. I like to play sports)
  • Ask more open-ended questions
  • Create with the language, while relying less on memorization
  • Produce complete yet simple sentences
  • Expand command of vocabulary to include “tourist survival” contexts (e.g., getting a hotel, ordering a meal, giving and receiving directions)
  • Sustain a short but meaningful conversation on predictable topics (e.g., likes/dislikes, daily routines)
I am at the Intermediate Level. I can... To get to the Advanced level, I will need to…
  • Ask more open-ended questions
  • Create with the language, while relying less on memorization
  • Produce complete yet simple sentences
  • Expand command of vocabulary to include “tourist survival” contexts (e.g., getting a hotel, ordering a meal, giving and receiving directions)
  • Sustain a short but meaningful conversation on predictable topics (e.g., likes/dislikes, daily routines)
  • Communicate in paragraph-length discourse, using connecting and transition words
  • Sustain a longer and meaningful conversation in formal and informal contexts
  • Tell a story and give descriptions in present, past and future time frames
  • Handle “tourist survival” situations that include an unpredictable complication (e.g., when arriving to your hotel, you find out your room reservation has been lost, you receive your bill at the restaurant and have been overcharged)
  • Use conversational strategies that include circumlocution, paraphrasing, and clarification requests to overcome communication breakdowns
I am at the Advanced level. I can ... To get to the Superior level, I will need to…
  • Communicate in paragraph-length discourse, using connecting and transition words
  • Sustain a longer and meaningful conversation in formal and informal contexts
  • Tell a story and give descriptions in present, past and future time frames
  • Handle “tourist survival” situations that include an unpredictable complication (e.g., when arriving to your hotel, you find out your room reservation has been lost, you receive your bill at the restaurant and have been overcharged)
  • Use conversational strategies that include circumlocution, paraphrasing, and clarification requests to overcome communication breakdowns
  • Discuss abstract and concrete topics with confidence and accuracy in extended discourse
  • Develop an opinion on a topic and defend it with reasons that go beyond personal experiences
  • Navigate between formal and informal settings with appropriate language
  • Use language that will fulfill the demands of academic and professional tasks (e.g., job interviews, writing up your resumé)

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