NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: Use for Pre-Assessment

Since the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements measure specific proficiencies, modern language teachers can use them for pre-assessment.

In pre-assessment mode, a teacher has an incoming student or students  use the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do statements as a checklist  to identify what they think they can do in the language. This assessment works well when the students come from another teacher, school, state or another level such as high school to college. Within five to ten  minutes students can self-assess  themselves using the Interpersonal Communication Can-Do Statements for Novice and Intermediate level.

I give these Can-Do Statements to my students in a beginning level college Spanish class. I realize that these students come from a wide background of language learning levels not only in terms of how many years of Spanish they have taken but also in terms of how long ago they studied Spanish.  I ask the students to put a slash in front of each Can-Do statement  if they are confident they can do the speaking activity. Also, I ask them to put a question mark next to any question that they are unsure of what it means.

After class, I quickly count how many checks are in each level such as Novice Low, Novice Mid, etc for each student. I enter these into a spreadsheet and have the spreadsheet calculate the class average for each level. I do a visual scan of their papers to see what  specific sections within each level they generally feel they cannot do. Many whole class language gaps became apparent Novice Mid- Can Make Simple Statements.

From this pre-assessment, I better know what areas of the Can-Do Statements I should focus on to help the students move up in their language proficiency.

In the same checklist manner, the Can-Do Statements can become a  quick modern language placement tool.

How do you pre-assess your modern language students’ proficiency?

I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students to begin to express themselves in the modern language and to move toward spontaneous speaking.  I am developing activities based on the Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at can instantly use these many communication activities in your classroom with even beginning students when only half the class has mobile devices. It can be downloaded as a pdf.

My three formative assessment books, Improving Foreign Language Speaking Through Formative Assessment, Formative Assessment: Responding to Your Students and Successful Student Writing Through Formative Assessment, are available at

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