8.6 Language levels and Progression
Teachers use these descriptions of EFL/ESL levels to help assess or group students according to their language level and progression.
Level 1: Beginning
This student is typically a new arrival with little or no previous English training, which is the key — a minimal vocabulary. This student is lost in class and does not know what to base his ability to comprehend, function, and respond to. The student has no knowledge of English besides answers to easy questions such as, “What is your name?” He/she may respond with “yes” or “no,” but not frequently or accurately. He/she may not be able to write an English script. He/she lacks proper vocabulary and oral understanding to follow directions or do simple classroom assignments.
Level 2: High Beginning
This student can understand a few classroom directions and tries to do basic assignments but with uncertainty and misinterpretation. Vocabulary is still significantly limited to commonly-used words. He/she reads and writes with difficulty, usually below the allocated grade level. This student reacts very positively to extra attention from the instructor or other students.
Level 3: Intermediate
This student may be able to do academic work close to grade level; however, he/she needs regular writing and vocabulary assistance. He/she displays growing confidence in his/her ability to understand and respond in English. This student engages in most classroom activities and follows directions well, though with numerous misunderstandings.
Vocabulary is limited but quickly developing. He/she may feel relaxed enough in the classroom to respond verbally, despite multiple errors and inaccurate word selection.
Level 4: High Intermediate
This student’s English is changing quickly at this point, and his/her self-confidence should be growing at the same rate. This student eagerly participates in classroom and group exercises, regularly adding to his/her knowledge of vocabulary and teacher expectations. His/her speech still has a significant accent, but grammar and vocabulary errors should be decreasing.
Level 5: Advanced
This student can function acceptably at grade level and often does extremely well because of a high motivation level. This student can engage and excel in all classroom and group activities, needing less teacher interference with directional and vocabulary assistance. He/she should be able to read at near-grade level with the aid of a dictionary.