NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements: Recording Language Proficiency Progress

Frequently, a modern language teacher and  his/her students measure their progress in a course in terms of the chapters covered in the textbook. For example, a teacher might say, “We have just finished Chapter 3.”  However, textbook coverage implies nothing about actual student language proficiency. Likewise, to say that a course covers chapters one through eight of the textbook has no proficiency meaning. However, to say that by the end of the course, the  students have met the Interpersonal Communication Novice Mid level indicates a specific proficiency.

A language proficiency model focuses on the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements.  A teacher states, “By the end of  this unit, in Novice Mid you ‘can ask some simple questions'”. The teacher provides basic instruction and many opportunities for the students to ask and answer questions.

After the students have demonstrated  several times that they can do the  Interpersonal Communication Novice Mid “ask some simple questions”, they place a huge checkmark in front of that Can-Do statement on their Can-Do listing for Interpersonal Communication. They see their language progress in this unit. They have proof  that they have learned new language proficiencies each chapter.

Each new unit teachers can focus on additional Can-Do statements and scaffold their class so that students can demonstrate their new proficiencies. The students continue to show their progress by checking off more and more Can-Do statements.They reach a point where they have checked off  a whole subsection and, eventually, all of the sublevels for a whole level such as Novice Mid. These Can-Do statements serve as their learning progress chart.

How do assess your students’ language proficiency in each unit?

By early May, my ebook tentatively titled Modern Language Proficiencies: Can -Do Strategies  will be available at Smashwords. This ebook covers Can-Do statements and strategies for speaking, listening, reading, and writing plus it has sections on the role of  vocabulary, grammar, culture, textbooks and mobile devices in the development of  these proficiencies. The major emphasis is on speaking.

To help your beginning and more advanced students move toward spontaneous speaking, I have developed 5 Visual activities/games  for any modern language (no words) and have developed 28 Spanish activities for students.  I am developing activities based on the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements. Teacherspayteachers:

My ebook, 90 Mobile Learning Modern Language Activities, is available at can instantly use these many communication and cultural 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

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s