Spoken

Scoring Protocol

There are no worldwide standards on defining performance in using a language. The first step is to identify the performance levels. What ALTA has done is to identify levels of performance that are consistent with the complete range of language skill from no knowledge of the language whatsoever to a native level of ability. ALTA has identified both what a person at that level can do as well as the criteria for placing a testing candidate’s performance at each level. The tables below give an indication of how ALTA does this.

ALTA is able to provide testing on any scale, for example the U.S. Government’s Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) scale or even proprietary scales. We do this by mapping the ALTA performance scale to the target scale. The ALTA performance or skill levels are described below:

Speaking and Listening Performance Levels

  • Total Beginner (Skill Level – 1): The candidate has no knowledge of the language whatsoever.
  • Beginner (Skill Level – 2-4): The candidate can communicate in a simple way in specific situations such as ordering food, asking directions and expressing basic needs.
  • Intermediate (Skill Level – 5-7): The candidate can handle successfully a limited number of interactive, task-oriented social and business activities.
  • Advanced (Skill Level – 8-10): The candidate can handle successfully a variety of communicative tasks feeling comfortable enough to conduct business meetings, converse effectively on the telephone, present a new idea and discuss details.
  • Nearly Fluent (Skill Level – 11): The candidate can initiate and sustain a wide variety of communicative tasks with finesse.
  • Fluent (Skill Level – 12): The candidate speaks at the level of a native speaker.

Identification of the Assessment Categories

The ALTA evaluation process assesses the level of skill in two areas: comprehension and speaking. These two categories are subdivided as shown below:

Comprehension

  • SCOPE: How wide is the candidate’s range of comprehension?
  • SPEED: What speed of talking by a native speaker can the candidate understand?
  • STRUCTURE: What complexity of speech can the candidate understand?

Speaking

  • ACCENT: What degree of non-native accent and pronunciation does the candidate have?
  • SCOPE: How easily can the candidate express ideas?
  • SPEED: How rapidly can the candidate speak and how much does the candidate hesitate?
  • NOUNS: How well does the candidate use proper gender and cases (where applicable)?
  • STRUCTURE: How well does the candidate use complex structures?
  • VERBS: How well does the candidate use correct conjugations, subject-verb agreement, mood and voice?
  • VOCABULARY: How wide is the candidate’s range of vocabulary and how precise?

The questions following each subdivision identify in practical terms what each subdivision means. In total the subdivisions identify the range of capability needed to comprehend or speak a language.

Writing Performance Levels

  • Total Beginner (Skill Level – 1): The candidate has no knowledge of the language whatsoever.
  • Beginner (Skill Level – 2-4): The candidate can communicate in a simple way in specific situations but makes many grammatical and spelling (or character) errors.
  • Intermediate (Skill Level – 5-7): The candidate can handle successfully a limited number of task-oriented social and business communications, but does not use advanced tenses, makes some spelling (or character) errors and has limited advanced vocabulary.
  • Advanced (Skill Level – 8-10): The candidate can handle successfully a variety of communicative tasks feeling comfortable enough to write business letters using advanced tenses, but still makes a few grammatical and spelling (or character) errors with some imprecision in vocabulary usage.
  • Nearly Fluent (Skill Level – 11): The candidate can initiate and sustain a wide variety of communicative tasks with finesse, but makes occasional spelling (or character) errors and minor grammatical errors.
  • Fluent (Skill Level – 12): The candidate writes at the level of a native speaker.

Reading Performance Levels

  • Total Beginner (Skill Level – 1): The candidate cannot read in the target language.
  • Beginner (Skill Level – 2-4): The candidate can read simple text containing high frequency words, phrases, and structures. The candidate can locate prominent items and simple stated details as well as main ideas.
  • Intermediate (Skill Level – 5-7): The candidate can successfully read and comprehend connected text relating to familiar social and business needs. The candidate can use contextual cues to understand unfamiliar material.
  • Advanced (Skill Level – 8-10): The candidate can successfully read and comprehend a variety of professional and general-interest texts. The candidate can use real-world knowledge to apply ideas to a larger context as well as make inferences about unfamiliar material. The candidate can understand nuances and slang.
  • Nearly Fluent (Skill Level – 11): The candidate can successfully read and comprehend difficult and abstract texts.
  • Fluent (Skill Level – 12): The candidate reads and comprehends at the level of a native speaker.

Translation Performance Levels

  • Total Beginner (Skill Level – 1): The candidate cannot translate from the source to the target language.
  • Beginner (Skill Level – 2-4): The candidate can translate simple words and phrases that are contained in the original text.
  • Intermediate (Skill Level – 5-7): The candidate can translate texts containing familiar subject matter with a limited degree of accuracy, allowing for some understanding of the meaning of the original document.
  • Advanced (Skill Level – 8-10): The candidate can successfully translate a wide variety of professional and general-interest texts and capture the meaning of the original document with accuracy.
  • Nearly Fluent (Skill Level – 11): The candidate can successfully translate a wide variety of difficult and abstract texts on a broad range of subject matter with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Fluent (Skill Level – 12): The candidate can successfully translate complex texts with complete accuracy.

Interpretation Performance Levels

  • Total Beginner (Skill Level – 1): The candidate cannot interpret from the source to the target language.
  • Beginner (Skill Level – 2-4): The candidate can interpret individual words and phrases that are contained in the original message.
  • Intermediate (Skill Level – 5-7): The candidate can interpret messages pertaining to familiar subject matter with a limited degree of accuracy, allowing for some understanding of the meaning of the original message.
  • Advanced (Skill Level – 8-10): The candidate can successfully interpret a wide variety of professional and general-interest conversations and capture the meaning of the original message with accuracy.
  • Nearly Fluent (Skill Level – 11): The candidate can successfully interpret a wide variety of difficult and abstract messages on a broad range of subject matter with a high degree of accuracy.
  • Fluent (Skill Level – 12): The candidate can successfully interpret complex messages with complete accuracy.

Contact Language Testing

  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.