The American Council on Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) publishes standards for foreign-language learners. They offer a significant amount of information on the direct correlation between total number of minutes of instruction and ability level. Based upon ACTFL’s data, the Spanish teachers and I have calculated the number of minutes of Spanish instruction a typical student would have received by the start of 7th grade and also by the end of 8th grade. Based on that information, we have identified the expected level of ability for our junior high students. Below are ACTFL’s descriptions of the Intermediate-Low sublevel and the Intermediate-Mid sublevel. Most of our students fall into those two categories, based upon total number of minutes of instruction. In addition, below, you’ll see that ACTFL breaks up their standards into four categories: vocabulary, speaking/listening, reading/writing and grammar.
ACTFL Level: Intermediate-Low Sublevel
“Speakers at the Intermediate-Low sublevel are able to handle successfully a limited number of uncomplicated communicative tasks by creating with the language in straightforward social situations. Conversation is restricted to some of the concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for survival in the target language culture. These topics relate to basic personal information covering, for example, self and family, some daily activities and personal preferences, as well as to some immediate needs, such as ordering food and making simple purchases. At the Intermediate-Low level, speakers are primarily reactive and struggle to answer direct questions or requests for information, but they are also able to ask a few appropriate questions.”
ACTFL Level: Intermediate-Mid Sublevel
“. . .personal information covering self, family, home, daily activities, interests and personal preferences, as well as physical and social needs, such as food, shopping, travel and lodging.”
“. . . are capable of asking a variety of questions when necessary to obtain simple information to satisfy basic needs, such as directions, prices and services.”
|Vocabulary TopicsTelling time, date, weather, food and restaurants, physical and personality characteristics, family, feelings, likes and dislikes, making plans with friends, shopping, transportation, chores, comparatives, body parts, ask for help in case of emergency, cultural connections to Spanish speaking countries.||Speaking & Listening SkillsTalk about why and when something happens, describe people’s personalities and physical appearance, talk about likes and dislikes, describe what you do in your free time, make phone calls to plan activities with friends, talk about future plans, describe past events, make recommendations about what one must or must not do, make comparisons between two things, can conduct a brief interview with another Spanish speaker using prearranged questions.||Reading & Writing SkillsRead and analyze increasingly complex short stories, write short stories, either critique or produce real life content such as video media, email, letters, menus and public information.||Grammarregular and irregular verb conjugation in the present tense, future tense and past tense, present progressive, demonstrative adjectives, possessive adjectives, comparisons: mas que y menos que, use of the verbs: ser vs. estar, deber, tener que.|