Assessing A Student’s Progress In A “90+% Target Language Use” Classroom

Great question from a teacher in the United Kingdom who teaches Welsh (follow him on twitter):

“I’ve been using your strategies and aiming for 90% TL.  My administrators want me to put some sort of survey together to test how much the kids understand etc.  I don’t want to include “what does this L2 word mean in English?” because, as you say, that’s not the aim.  Wondering if you’d have any tips/questions you’d use.”

Although I don’t feel like I can give him an expert’s answer, I pointed him in the direction of the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: Progress Indicators For Language Learners.

actfl can do statements progress indicators for language learners

A lot of people use this.  If you haven’t seen it, you’re going to love it!

Starting on page 6 of the document there’s a super-helpful (and comprehensive) checklist of Can-Do statements organized by proficiency level and mode of communication!

Here’s a great summary of the document’s purpose, which can be found in the preface:

“Ultimately, the goal for all language learners is to develop a functional use of another language for one’s personal contexts and purposes. The Can-Do Statements serve two purposes to advance this goal: for programs, the statements provide learning targets for curriculum and unit design, serving as progress indicators; for language learners, the statements provide a way to chart their progress through incremental steps…”

Here are two examples (out of hundreds) of Can-Do Statements:

  • I can say my name and ask someone’s name.
  • I can say or write something about the members of my family and ask about someone’s family.

There are many educators who have found creative ways of presenting the list in ways that motivate students to use the statements to measure their L2 acqusition progress.

From Cynthia Hitz (

foreign language can do statements cynthia hitz

From Jen Ken (

can do senora speedy

From Martha Hibbard (check out her post on Can Do Statements)

can do martha hibbard


Personally, the thing I like about the Can-Do Statements is that it allows you to NOT assess proficiency/progress by asking questions like, “What does this L2 word mean in L2?” Check out these two posts on the topic:

Another personal note: I have LOTS of room to grow in this area.  I would benefit from your input.  How would you answer the question at the top of this post?  What resources would you point to?  Please share with us!

Señor Howard

Señor Howard – – @HolaSrHoward

Caleb Howard – – @calhwrd

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