THE (INCOMPLETE) LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY GLOSSARY
Italics in definitions indicate terms that are in this glossary.
50/50 immersion model – An immersion program model in which the learner learns grade-level content in two languages, with 50% of instruction in one language, and 50% of instruction in the other.
90/10 immersion model – An immersion program model in which students are instructed 90% of the time in the second language and 10% in English. Over time the amount of instruction in English gradually increases each year until each language is used for 50% of instruction (generally by third grade).
1-Way Dual Language Immersion: 1-way dual language immersion refers to a program where the majority of learners are native speakers of the same first language and they are learning the second language together through the program model.
2 -Way Dual Language Immersion: 2-way dual language immersion refers to a program where two groups of students (each with different first languages (L1), learn together in an immersion setting, language and content so that both groups become bilingual and bi-literate in both languages (L1 and L2).
Achievement test – Test of developed skill or knowledge. The most common type of achievement test is an in-class quiz that measures mastery of material that has been previously taught in class.
AAPPL – ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL): a web-based world language proficiency and performance assessment of K-12 standards-based language learning.
ACTFL – U.S.-based individual membership organization of more than 13,000 language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education, as well as government and industry.
ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines – Description of what individuals can do with language in terms of reading, writing, listening, and speaking in real-world situations in a spontaneous and non-rehearsed context. See “How Standards are used in Language Proficiency Assessments”
Adaptive Language Proficiency Test – Algorithm-based scoring technology for language assessments that takes the score from the test taker’s response and then adjusts the level of difficulty of the next item or module (cluster of items) that the test taker will respond to. See “Fixed Form VS. Adaptive Test Design in Language Proficiency Testing”.
ADVANCE – System designed by Avant Assessment which utilizes its specialized software for online training designed specifically for teachers to receive immediate feedback on their world language proficiency rating accuracy. Teachers learn the data-based principles and standards that Avant has used for 10+ years to train, certify, and manage STAMP assessment raters. See “ADVANCE: Making Proficiency Real for Preservice Teachers”.
Affective Filter – Often described as an imaginary wall that raises in the mind, preventing the learner from receiving input and learning. It is important for a learner to feel comfortable in the classroom (have a lower affective filter) in order to acquire language.
Advanced – is a proficiency rating for language users who can narrate and describe in all major time frames and handle a situation with a complication.
American Association of Teachers of French (AATF) – Professional organization for teachers of French in the United States founded in 1927. Teachers may be involved in primary, secondary, or university education.
American Association of Teachers of German (AATG) – Professional organization for teachers of German in the United States. Teachers may be involved in primary, secondary, or university education.
American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese (AATSP) – Professional organization for teachers of Spanish and Portuguese in the United States. It was founded on December 29, 1917 in New York City as the American Association of Teachers of Spanish. Teachers may be involved in primary, secondary, or university education.
American Association of Teachers of Italian (AATI) – Professional organization for teachers of Italian in the United States. It was founded in 1923. Teachers may be involved in primary, secondary, or university education.
The American Classical League – Professional organization for teachers of Classical Languages, Latin and Greek in the United States. It was founded in 1919. Teachers may be involved in primary, secondary, or university education.
American Association of Teachers of Japanese (AATJ) – International organization of teachers, scholars, and students of the Japanese language, literature, and linguistics. It works to promote the study of the Japanese language at all levels of instruction in the field and to broaden and deepen knowledge and appreciation of Japan and its culture.
Anchor item(s) in a test – Items whose behavior and difficulty are already known and included in a test to assess the behavior and difficulty of other items where there is no prior information.
AP World Language and Culture Exams – Comprehensive world language assessment offered by the College Board in the United States education system as part of the Advanced Placement Program. Each test is for the specific world languages of Chinese, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Latin, or Spanish and assesses reading, writing, speaking, and listening scored on a scale of one to five, based on the AP curriculum units of study. These exams are widely recognized by university programs that often provide college credit.
Arabic Proficiency Test (APT) – Monolingual language proficiency test developed by Avant Assessment in Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) created for native Arabic Speakers who need to function effectively in the Arabic-speaking world.
Asia Society – Non-profit organization founded in 1956 by John D. Rockefeller III that focuses on educating the world about Asia by fostering mutual understanding and cooperation among the peoples, leaders, and institutions of Asia and the United States in a global context.
American Translators Association (ATA) – Association of translators and interpreters in the United States with nearly 10,000 members in more than 100 countries. Members are interested in translation and interpreting as a profession or as an academic. Translators, interpreters, educators, project managers, web and software developers, language services companies, hospitals, universities, and government agencies comprise the membership.
Avant MORE Learning – Professional learning program which enables participants to engage in training in the areas of data information, leadership skills, partnership collaboration, and proficiency enhancement strategies. The Director for Professional Learning at Avant Assessment, Dawn Samples, states, “Avant MORE Learning is training educators to help their learners reach higher levels of proficiency and meet program goals for biliteracy.” Unlike a language assessment, MORE Learning focuses on the professional development of the individual.
Backward Design Model – Instructional design model that begins with the end in mind. In this process, the curriculum is designed by setting goals for targeted performance outcomes before choosing instructional methods and forms of assessment. Backward design, also called backward planning or backward mapping, is a process that educators use to design learning experiences and instructional techniques to achieve specific learning goals. See Understanding By Design (Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe).
Benchmarks – Describe what the student should know and be able to do at a specific point in time (grade level or course level) in the learners’ journey toward targeted program outcomes.
Benchmark Testing – Assessment tool used to determine where learners are performing at designated milestones along their journey toward targeted program outcomes. For example, bookmark testing would show what the student should know and be able to do at specific grade or course levels (e.g. first and third grades) in order to attain the goals set for performance standards, typically at grades five, eight, or 12 in the United States.
Bilingual – The ability to speak two languages proficiently. The origin of the word is Latin. It is derived from the word lingua which means “tongue, language” and the prefix “bi” which means “having two.” Bilingual literally means “having two tongues.”
Bilingual Assessment Test – See language assessment.
Bilingual Differential – Compensation from employers that is paid in addition to the base salary for world language skills that are required in a job. This pay differential is used as an incentive for other employees to become proficient in another language and to make sure employees with multiple language skills are compensated fairly for their expertise.
Bilingual Education – Deprecated term (see Dual Language Education) referring to teaching students in two languages. The extent each language is used depends on proficiency levels the teaching model is designed to achieve.
Biliteracy – The ability to read and write in two languages.
Can-Do Statements for Language Learning – To help students understand the dimensions of each level of proficiency, “can-do” statements may be created by teachers and students for each mode of communication. In the United States, the NCSSFL – ACTFL Can-Do Statements (2017) help students understand the types of tasks they must demonstrate competency in and how well they must communicate in each mode to be proficient at the various levels.
Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) – Private, nonprofit organization founded in 1959 and headquartered in Washington, DC. CAL’s mission is to promote language learning and cultural understanding by serving as a trusted source for research, resources, and policy analysis.
Center for Applied Second Language Studies (CASLS) – Leading innovator in world language teaching and learning at the University of Oregon. Renowned for research-based solutions, materials creation, program implementation, and evaluation and assessment CASLS is seen as a world leader in second language studies and proficiency. The program is just one of 16 National Foreign Language Resource Centers that is working to increase capacity for language teaching and learning in the United States.
Central States Conference On The Teaching Of Foreign Languages (CSCTFL) – Founded and incorporated in 1969 as a regional foreign language organization that serves 17 Midwestern states through its annual spring conference.
The Chinese Language Teachers Association (CLTA) – American teachers’ association founded in 1962. It is devoted to promote the teaching and study of the Chinese language and culture.
Common Assessments – Used in a school or district to ensure that all teachers are evaluating student performance in a consistent, reliable, and effective manner. Common assessments are used to encourage greater consistency in teaching and assessing among teachers who are responsible for teaching the same content (e.g. within a grade level, department, or content area).
Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) Scale – Guideline used to describe proficiency levels of learners of world (foreign) languages across the European Union (EU) and other countries. The Council of Europe’s “Language Learning for European Citizenship” was created between 1989 and 1996. The purpose of this document is to provide guidelines for methods of learning, teaching, and assessing all languages spoken in Europe.
Communicative Competence – The ability of a language learner to use the language effectively and appropriately for the social or cultural context.
Competency-Based Credits – Credits awarded to students who have demonstrated proficiency in a world language rather than through the typical credit-hour unit awarded at the end of a course.
Comprehensible Input – Also known as CI or i +1. Written or spoken language provided to the learner that is slightly more challenging than what they already are able to understand. It is language that can be understood by the learner despite them not knowing all the words or structures in it. Educators can use visuals, slower speech, repetition and modeling to make input comprehensible for learners.
Computer-Adaptive MultiStage Testing – Adaptive tests eliminate questions that are too easy or too difficult for each test taker allowing them to reach their highest level of proficiency. This test design combines the benefits of adaptive and fixed form testing by essentially lining up a succession of mini fixed-form test modules. After each test module, test takers move up, down or stay at the same level depending on their performance. Here is an example of Avant’s Computer-Adaptive Multi-Stage Test Design.
Content standards – Also called academic standards or learning standards, content standards are a compilation of specific statements of what a student should know and be able to do relative to learning and teaching.
Context – The real-world setting or scenario that helps a language learner understand and frame communication.
Context – the setting and circumstances that can help a language learner to understand and frame communication.
Contextualized Grammar – The use of contextualized grammar within authentic texts to teach grammatical rules and sentence structures can be an effective strategy in helping learners use grammar correctly for communication. Grammar may be taught through the context of the unit of study and include reading and writing of the language itself for communicative purposes.
Children’s Online Privacy Protection Rule (COPPA) – A U.S. federal regulation designed to protect children under 13 years of age.
Criterion-referenced assessment – Also called Standards-Based Assessment. Most proficiency assessments are standards-based, meaning that the test measures what test-takers can do against a set of fixed standards. The results have meaning in relation to what the student knows or is able to do (rather than on the student in relation to a reference group, as in a norm-referenced test.)
Curriculum – A standards-based document that provides the learning continuum and maps out the content, skills and learning progressions that guides instruction and allows students to acquire and integrate targeted knowledge and skills.
Credit-by-exam (CBE) – An exam or assessment process that allows a student to receive high school or college credit by demonstrating mastery of course outcomes. This often includes an external assessment or proficiency test and/or a portfolio of evidence supporting the level of competency of the learner.
California World Language Project ( CWLP) – A collaborative, statewide network that sponsors year-round professional development programs for world language educators intended to strengthen the teaching of languages and cultures in California.
Data-driven – Decisions based on data to formulate lessons and language assessment strategies, rather than by intuition or by personal experience.
Data Literacy – The ability to read, write and communicate data in context, including an understanding of data sources and constructs, analytical methods and techniques applied. And, the ability to describe and use case, application, and resulting value. See “The Chicken or the Data?”
Defense Language Proficiency Test (DLPT) – A battery of language tests produced by the Defense Language Institute and used by the United States Department of Defense.
Distinguished – is a proficiency level where the language user can reflect on global issues and highly abstract concepts, use persuasive hypothetical discourse, and tailor language to a variety of audiences.
Dual-Language Education – Refers to academic programs that are taught in two languages. Possible models include transitional programs that provide students instruction in their native languages and moving to more English instruction. Maintenance programs provide students, usually elementary, with instruction in both English and their native languages.
Enrichment programs teach both English and non-English speakers in two languages to promote bilingualism.
Dual Language Immersion – A program in which the language goals are bilingualism and biliteracy in English and a partner language (in the US), where students study language arts and other academic content (math, science, social studies, arts) in both languages over the course of the program, the partner language is used for at least 50% of instruction at all grades. The program lasts at least five years (preferably K-12) This term is an umbrella term that includes two-way immersion, one-way immersion, heritage language immersion, and developmental bilingual programs.
Dyslexia – Disorders that involve difficulty in learning to read or interpret words, letters, and other symbols.
EFL (English as a Foreign Language) – English language programs in non-English-speaking countries where English is not used as the lingua franca (universal language). It is also used in some U.S. university programs where international students study English and are likely to return to their home countries after graduation or finishing course work.
EL (English Learner) – A student who is not yet able to communicate fluently in English or to learn effectively in English.
ELL (English Language Learner) – Often used to refer to a student in an ESL or EFL program. The students are children and adults who are learning English as a second, additional, or new language, at various levels of proficiency. English learners may also be referred to as English Learners (EL), limited English proficient (LEP), emergent bilinguals (EBs), and nonnative speakers (NNS).
ESL (English as a second language) – The teaching of English to people who speak a world language other than English and who live in a country where English is the main language spoken.
FERPA (Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act) Compliant – When a school, university or other educational institution or company meets the standards of the Federal law that protects the privacy of student education records. The law applies to all schools that receive funds under an applicable program of the U.S. Department of Education.
Fixed Form Test – An exam where every test taker receives the same items (a.k.a. questions) and can be delivered on paper or computer.
Foreign Language – The language of another country or culture other than that of a person’s nationality or culture. This term has fallen out of favor with educators and academics. “World language” is the term most commonly used to replace “foreign language”. See “world language”
Fluency – The degree to which a person can communicate and comprehend a language (or languages). A person that is highly fluent in a language can often speak, read, write, and listen to a native speaker with accuracy and efficacy.
Foreign Language Experience Program / FLEX program – A type of language immersion program in which world language activities and exercises are embedded into the curriculum. However, unlike a 50/50 immersion model or 90/10 immersion model, a FLEX program uses shorter sessions to introduce a language (or languages) with a focus on novice fundamentals like words and phrases. This type of program is used in K-8 education and can consist of recurring sessions over brief periods, or fewer sessions over a longer period.
Example: A second-grade class conducts weekly Spanish language instruction during Spanish heritage month, while a fifth-grade class conducts monthly Spanish instruction of the course of the academic year.
The educational outcome for this type of program is to lay the foundation for future foreign language learning and in some programs, cultural awareness.
Foreign Language Immersion – A method through which a world language is taught or reinforced. Immersive foreign language practices can be done locally or abroad. Localized foreign language immersion can be completed in school or classroom, but also through community groups and/or settings in which the dominant language(s) that are used are target world languages. A semester abroad, a daily French class, an international film festival, and a weekly book club are all types of foreign language immersion.
Foreign language in the elementary school / FLES Program – The inclusion of world language education within elementary schools with lessons and supplemental material that broaden student skills in the areas of reading, writing, listening, and speaking comprehension. A weekly minimum of 75 minutes is required in this type of programming and instruction may emphasize cultural awareness in addition to standard grammar and pronunciation exercises.
Formative Assessment – An assessment process in which a test taker’s skills are reviewed with greater frequency. The rationale behind this type of test administration is to enable an educator (or Testing Coordinator) with the ability to provide real-time feedback or accommodations. A class, school, or institution can use formative assessments to update lessons, educational goals and programs based on the data.
Formulaic – CWLP Novice (California World Language Project – Novice) – The language proficiency level that a test taker has demonstrated. The novice range is at the base of the scale and is preceded by the intermediate, advance and superior range. A person at the novice level is prone to use words and phrases that are memorized or formulaic. Also see:
Functional Fluency – The level of fluency at which an individual can communicate in a foreign language. A functionally fluent person may be able to read, speak, write and listen to a world language with some ease, but have difficulty in situations which require more advanced or superior language skills.
Example: Bobbi, whose primary language was English, could speak with his colleagues about work, food, and local events in French, but often had difficulty with understanding or contributing to spontaneous conversations on the topics of global affairs and history.
General Data Protection Regulation – This regulation went into effect May 25, 2018, with the goal of safeguarding data and protecting the privacy of people within the European Union. The robust compliance regulation imposes fines for violations of the GDPR in an effort to retain accountability in a global economy.
Global Seal of Biliteracy – An earned certification which signifies that the recipient has demonstrated a higher-level of proficiency beyond functional fluency. Individuals who have been awarded the Global Seal of Biliteracy have used it towards pay differentials in the workplace, as well as course credit for schools and institutions of higher education.
Grammar – The structure of a language, including its system of word arrangement (syntax), as well as its word formation (morphology).
Hebrew at the Center – A professional institution that specializes in Hebrew education, utilizing a multifaceted approach which includes an assessment of learners, analysis of test taker data, as well as a tracking of teacher and student progress as it relates to Hebrew proficiency.
Heritage Language Learner / Heritage Language Student – A type of language learner/student whose native language is the world language being studied. These types of learners may demonstrate varying degrees of proficiency in one or more areas due to personal circumstances. Some heritage language learners may already speak the language at home, whereas others may have received formal education in their country of origin.
Heritage Language Program – At the crossroads of education and community. A heritage language program can be an immersive experience for learners where the learning outcomes reach beyond the classroom, as students use a program’s lessons to communicate with others within their community that are also proficient in a specific world language.
Immersion Program – Type of program in which a non-dominant language (e.g. French instead of English in the United States) is used in instruction to deliver content to learners. Within an immersion program, grammar is only a part of the overall education, as other fields of study such as arithmetic, the sciences, and history are taught in the non-dominant language. Immersion programs are typically used at the elementary level. (See: Foreign Language Immersion; 50/50 Immersion Model; and 90/10 Immersion Model.)
Individual Education Program (IEP) or 504 – In cases in which a learner needs additional assistance or accommodations to afford equitable access to education, an individual education program (or IEP for short) is legally required to be established. Students with mild to severe learning challenges may require basic assistance from another person; for example, reading a text for a learner who is visually impaired; transcribing speech into text for a learner with muscular dystrophy; or even basic mobility between classrooms. IEPs are implemented under Part B of the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA).
Information Gap Activities – Learning activities that involve an exchange of unknown information. When learners participate in information gap activities, one learner has information that the other partner is missing. For example, one learner has a secret picture of a person that they have to describe to their partner (who cannot see the picture) to draw.
Input – Refers to the exposure that learners have to the world language. This can come from various sources such as educator speech, other language learners, authentic resources, and the environment around the learner.
Intake – While learners may be exposed to a variety of language input, intake refers to the part of input which the learner comprehends and acts on.
Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) – An independent group which consists of an array of government agencies and public organizations. The unfunded roundtable has been meeting for over 50 years and consists of American professionals, many federally employed, with interests in foreign languages. Their mission is to coordinate and share information as it relates to world languages through a collaborative and centralized network of members.
Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) – A classroom-based assessment model for use during a synchronous (virtual or in-person) language class with learners at all levels of proficiency. IPA’s include three separate tasks aligned across a common theme that reflect how a learner would naturally acquire and use the language in a real-world situation. Each one of the three tasks reflect one of the three modes of communication so that there is a task utilizing the interpretive mode, presentational mode, and interpersonal mode.
Intermediate – A proficiency level where language users can create with the language using simple sentences including a request, provide information, react, interact, and ask follow up questions.
Intermediate – is a proficiency level where language users can create with the language, ask and answer simple questions, and handle a simple situation or transaction.
Interpersonal Mode of Communication – Composed of two distinct characteristics, “unrehearsed” and “negotiated” an interpersonal mode of communication utilizes these models to generate responses from learners. An unrehearsed scenario requires that a language learner produce a response to a presented situation in real time without the usage of supplemental materials—such as a dictionary, notes, or web-based translation services. Meanwhile, a negotiated scenario requires that the language learner respond appropriately to a given situation, i.e. “You are at a restaurant and are ordering for a group of four” or “write an email to your friend about your summer plans.”
Interpersonal Speaking – Students use the interpersonal mode of communication when exchanging unknown information with each other by asking and answering questions through dialogue. Interpersonal speaking is spontaneous and unrehearsed, and partner selection is random. Students’ ability to use facial expressions and gestures facilitate dialogue as well as active listening by reacting and asking follow-up questions.
Interpretive Mode of Communication – Listening to or reading authentic resources in the world language and proving comprehension of the previously unknown material. Authentic resources such as websites, articles, videos, radio announcements, commercials, books, newspapers and magazines are used in the interpretive mode.
JNCL-NCLIS (Joint National Committee for Languages – National Council for Languages and International Studies) – JNCL has been advocating for a linguistically diverse American landscape since 1972. Their language policy teams empower their members to raise awareness of the benefits of multilingualism to the U.S. Congress. The organization represents more than 300,000 professionals in a variety of fields, ranging from language testing and research to translation and more.
Language Assessment – A test in which a range of skills can be measured, including proficiency in one or more areas, including reading, writing, listening and speaking. Language assessments can be administered in a variety of settings including primary, secondary, and post-secondary education institutions. Government agencies and workplaces may use a language assessment when considering pay differentials, whereas a school district may use a language assessment as part of a credit-by-exam (CBE) policy.
Language Fluency – The ease with which a person communicates and comprehends a language. Accurate pronunciation of words and phrases are markers of fluency, whereas the ease with which a person engages in an interpretive mode of communication and/or interpersonal mode of communication can be a signifier of a person’s level of fluency—novice, intermediate or advanced.
Language Proficiency – An individual’s ability to communicate and comprehend a language. One’s communication and comprehension skills can be measured through a Language Assessment, such as STAMP (STAndards-based Measurement of Proficiency). A person who demonstrates superior world language proficiency will have a firm grasp of grammar and varied lexicon, but also the ability to communicate effectively in unrehearsed, real-world situations.
Language Proficiency Test – A type of test which measures the comprehension capacity of a test taker through a series of questions, prompts, audio samples, and/or visual media. These types of tests are designed as either a Fixed Form or Adaptive Language Proficiency Test. The results can be used to identify a range of skills from literacy to pronunciation, depending on the design of the test.
Languages Other Than English (LOTE) – This phrase and acronym are used in academia, as well as government, in reference to other world languages. Examples of LOTE include, Tagalog, French, Russian, Tamil, Turkish, Amharic, and Hmong.
Lexical – As it relates to language, lexical is the core of a given word and the meaning it conveys.
Linguistics – The study of language with an emphasis on components such as syntax, morphology, phonology, etymology, as well as semantics. This field of study uses a scientific approach to understand language by analyzing words, deconstructing meaning and quantifying the phonemes of a language.
Literacy – The ability of an individual to read and write. An individual’s literacy can vary according to age and education.
Example: Jose demonstrates a high level of literacy in the English language because he can read a wide range of print and digital text, unpack deeper meaning in passages, as well as distill information through textual interpretation.
Longitudinal Analysis – Type of analysis in which the goal is to gather data using the same variables over a designated time period. A student using a unique and never-changing test taker identification for a language proficiency test (such as Avant STAMP or Avant STAMP WS), will be able to produce data that can be viewed longitudinally by a testing coordinator, district administrator, or other educator for the purpose of observational study.
Modern Standard Arabic (MSA) – Arabic that has been used in formal dialogues and some public settings since the late 19th century. Abbreviated as MSA, the language includes modern words that are not found in classical Arabic. Also called Al-Fusha.
Multiple Validations – Process in which a person’s ability is verified through more than one method to produce data with a higher degree of accuracy.
National Association of District Supervisors of Foreign Languages (NADSFL) – Organization which was founded in 1984 with the mission to “promote excellence in foreign language education for all learners through the professional development of foreign language supervisors.”
National Council of Less Commonly Taught Languages (NCOLCTL) – A national organization that is a networking resource for learners of less commonly taught languages and an advocate for individuals and institutions that teach such languages. Less commonly taught languages include languages other than English (LOTE), that are not German, French, and Spanish.
National Foreign Language Resource Centers (NFLRC) – A resource center founded in 1990 which focuses on eight areas of work, including research, teaching, assessment, as well as less commonly taught language initiatives. As of 2020 sixteen language resource centers exist across the United States, including Center for Applied Second Language Studies in Oregon.
National Council of State Supervisors for Languages (NCSSFL) – An organization with the mission of providing leadership in relation to policy within the United States. The group advocates, collaborates, and networks with individuals on state level issues in efforts to support language education.
Northeast Conference on the Teaching of Foreign Language (NECTFL) – Started in the 1940’s, today NECTFL serves world language teachers of all levels, through regional conferences and publications.
National Spanish Exam (NSE) – This exam is an online assessment taken by students in grades six through 12 for achievement recognition through the demonstration of proficiency. In addition to recognizing student achievement, the NSE also promotes language proficiency with the aim of stimulating further interest in both the instruction and learning of Spanish.
Norm-referenced assessment – Assessment in which a test taker’s performance is evaluated alongside other test takers. The total data of all test takers is then used to establish a norm, and an individual’s performance is compared in reference to the entirety of the testing group’s results.
Novice – is a proficiency level where the learner can communicate with formulaic and rote utterances, lists and phrases.
One-Way Immersion – An immersion methodology in which the focus of the proficiency curriculum is a bilingual education. This type of immersion is utilized in states such as Arizona, New Mexico, and other Southwestern states. Also see: Foreign Language Immersion
Online Proctoring Technology – Software and hardware utilized to ensure a secure testing environment. Depending on the nature of a test, technology can include live audio and video recording capability, a lockdown browser, or even chat functions for test-take and proctor communications. Hardware may consist of a laptop, desktop, or tablet with a microphone and webcam with internet functionality.
Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) – A standardized, global assessment of functional speaking ability. Taking the form of a conversation between the tester and test-taker, the test measures how well a person speaks a language by assessing their performance of a range of language tasks against specified criteria. In the United States, the criteria for each of ten proficiency levels are described in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines, devised by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL).
Outcomes-based Teaching and Learning (OBTL) – Curriculum design framework for teaching and learning that helps you focus on “first identifying the intended outcomes or goals of a module or program and then aligning teaching, learning, and assessment to maximize the likelihood that students achieve those outcomes
Pacific Northwest Council for Languages (PNCL) – An organization that advocates for the value of world languages as a core curriculum and supports language policies that reflect this ideal. In order to foster professional growth among language educators, PNCFL connects them at regional and national levels. PNCFL inspires world language educators to improve instruction for all students through professional development and leadership opportunities.
Parrot – At the novice level, language learners can only parrot back what they have memorized–whether they be words, chunks of language, or phrases. They can also begin to substitute words within these chunks, but the memorized speech is essentially the same. I like apples, or I like to dance–all examples of parrotted phrases, can be changed to I like springtime and I like to ski, and while the students created new meaning they did not create new phrases. Most language learners in our country stop their language learning at this level–likely due to their needing to meet only a minimum amount of language study in order to graduate or to get into the college of their choice. Adults will often discourage the taking of language with the tired phrase of: “I studied French for two years in high school, and I can’t use the language at all.” Of course they can’t. A parrot has no real skill with the language, and stopping at this point leaves you with no proficiency.
Performance Assessment – Type of assessment in which a test taker is required to respond to a task or situation. This type of scenario enables the test taker to demonstrate his or her learned skills while responding to a provided task or situation. The focus of the assessment is on what students CAN do with the language in a communicative setting in a planned, rehearsed or practiced environment.
Performance Standards – The measurable goals set forth by a teacher via a curriculum, an administrator for a school district, or a State board of education for schools within a designated region. The performance standards outline the expected capability of students according to grade or proficiency level.
Performance versus Proficiency – A person with the ability to provide a comprehensive response to real time questions and conversations is demonstrating proficiency, however, a person demonstrating performance ability, may instead provide memorized responses, have limited adaptability to change, or rely on scaffolding cues from an educator.
PLACE (Avant) – An Avant Assessment test in which reading comprehension and contextualized grammar are assessed in an array of Languages other than English (LOTE), including French, Arabic, Italian and Spanish. Additionally, a test taker’s writing and speaking responses to Avant PLACE assessment prompts can provide a Testing Coordinator with additional insight about a test taker (or groups of test takers).
Placement Test – A specialized test that is used to assess the skills of a test taker. Within academia, a placement test is sometimes used prior to course enrollment, or results are applied towards Competency-Based Credits. The purpose of a placement test is to ensure that once a test taker’s results have been evaluated, then she or he can be placed in an appropriate group, class, or program in accordance with his or her skill level.
Planned – CWLP Advanced (California World Language Project – Advanced) – The language proficiency level that a test taker has demonstrated. The advanced range is near the peak of the scale and is followed by the superior range. A person at the advanced level may be able to comprehend and communicate a broader scope of information with fewer errors than language speakers at novice or intermediate levels.
Pre-employment Proficiency Test – This type of examination is used to measure a candidate’s proficiency ahead of hiring but can also be administered during a review process. The purpose of a pre-employment proficiency test is to assess a candidate’s ability to successfully carry out tasks which require a certain level of proficiency. While some employers may only need a candidate to have a working fluency, others may need a professional fluency.
Presentational Mode of Communication – A presentational mode of communication requires that a learner provide written or oral information to a group, class, or audience. The group or audience can ask questions or provide feedback. While the presentation may be rehearsed, the questions asked by the audience may require spontaneous or real-time responses from the presenter.
Portfolio – The curated collection of a student or learner’s body of work. A portfolio may include past achievements, and highlighted works. Educators may sometimes use a portfolio to illustrate a student’s work whereas a student may create a portfolio as a final project.
Proctor – An individual responsible for maintaining a secure testing environment. A proctor can provide technical assistance to a test taker but cannot assist the test taker in completing exam questions or responses. A proctor can monitor a test taker’s progress either in person or virtually.
Proficiency-Based Learning – Methodology used in the United States, with an emphasis on K-12 education, that sets standards for students and educators outlining expected learning outcomes according to grade level. Proficiency- based learning.
Proficiencies – The defined skill and competency levels which can be used to evaluate and review data. A proficiency range can vary (low, medium and high, or novice, intermediate, and advanced) depending on the method and standards used to define proficiency levels.
Professional Development – The concerted effort to keep a professional’s skills current. This process may include taking specialized courses, additional education, or new skill acquisition.
Professional Development Units (PDUs) – Units of time that correlate to the time a professional has spent in the field as a volunteer, a student, or teacher.
Professional Fluency – Advanced to superior communication and comprehension skills of a world language. While some businesses and government agencies only require that a candidate possess a working fluency, other institutions could require someone with a professional fluency to complete specialized tasks. Roles which may require a professional fluency level include foreign diplomat, language professor, and interpreter.
Professional Learning -The learning a teacher engages in so that he/she can further his/her professional skills. The process may include skill-specific courses, additional training (such as Avant MORE Learning), or even conference attendance. The purpose is to keep a teacher current with educational milieu.
Professional Target Language – Spoken or written language that is used in professional settings. In some cases, a professional target language may need to be translated or transcribed for accessibility or company policy.
Example: Billie sends out his company newsletter in English as well as Korean, it contains the same information and same level of professionalism in both languages.
Proficiency-Based Curricular Alignment – A coordinated effort between multiple levels of education to ensure program alignment within a district as it relates to lessons, coursework, curriculum, as well as teachers.
Proficiency Status – The level at which an individual demonstrates his/her communicative and comprehension abilities. An individual’s proficiency can range from novice through advanced; and the evaluation of a person’s proficiency can be measured through a language proficiency test.
Prosody – A variation of auditory cues which results in tonal change, stress and intonation, and can thereby change meaning or communicate information.
Ratability – The capacity at which something can be evaluated, reviewed or assessed.
Rating – Unit of measurement that is used to indicate a score according to a scale. In language acquisition that would be a proficiency rating or score.
Remote Proctoring – A process of maintaining a secure testing environment in which the person monitoring the test taker (or multiple test takers) is in a separate location from the test taker. A proctor can provide technical assistance to a test taker but cannot assist the test taker in completing exam questions or responses. A remote proctor may use a range of technology to ensure the integrity of test results, such as a lockdown browser, live audio, live video, and screen captures.
Remote Learning – An educational process in which a curriculum is either, partly or entirely, online. Remote learning can consist of virtual lessons and presentations, as well as discussion forums and threads using technology such as laptops, desktops or tablets.
Rubrics – Structural tools used for grading assignments, courses or tests. A rubric will outline the goals and standards needed to fulfill learning outcomes.
Scaffolding – An educational method in which the teacher builds upon the student’s ability so that the student can achieve greater proficiency or skill in a particular subject.
Score Table – A score table can be used to organize and illustrate a matrix of data relating to a test or language assessment. In an example of a world language the score table can illustrate the listening and reading benchmark range for “Novice,” “Intermediate,” and “Advanced,” with subgroups of “Low,” “Mid,” and “High” for each benchmark.
Score Scaling – A process in which a final test score is calculated and calibrated by the test designer in order to provide a more accurate assessment based on the test takers item responses.
Section 508 – Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act (29 U.S.C. § 794d) maintains that people have fair and equitable access to Information and Communications Technology (ICT) regardless of disability.
Seal of Biliteracy – An earned seal that a high school student can earn through demonstrated proficiency in a Language other than English (LOTE). Once earned, a school, district, state or even program can present the bilingual (and in some cases multilingual) student.
Spanish Heritage Language Test – An online test designed to quickly and accurately place Spanish heritage students into Spanish heritage language courses. Test takers range from grade seven through university level. The proctored test identifies strengths and weaknesses in key academic language skills that are unique to Spanish heritage students. In addition to speaking and writing proficiency, the test also measures vocabulary, grammar, verb use, and spelling. Avant Spanish Heritage Placement Test
STAMP – An acronym which stands for STAndards-based Measurement of Proficiency. Created at the University of Oregon, an Avant STAMP language test can assess the proficiency of a test taker and produce an array of data which can then be used to make informed decisions about curriculum, a student’s language learning progress, or (in some states) apply for a Seal of Biliteracy.
STAMP WS – An Avant Assessment proficiency test for Less Commonly Tested Languages (LCTL) which is administered to test takers by a school/institution’s proctor. A STAMP WS assessment begins with a test taker’s self-assessment of his/her language ability and continues with a writing and speaking section which will receive a proficiency rating based on the test taker’s responses. As of 2022, Amharic, Armenian, Cabo Verdean, Chin, Chuukese, Czech, English, Filipino (Tagalog), Haitian Creole, Hmong, Ilocano, Kannada, Marathi, Marshallese, Samoan, Somali Maay Maay, Somali Maxaa, Tamil, Telugu, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese, Yup’ik, and Zomi are all available as STAMP WS assessments that are professional scored.
Standardized Tests – Uniform tests which require a proctor, or one that is administered in a testing center. A standardized test may include a streamline process and provides guidelines for how much time the test taker is allotted, how many questions the test contains, and even the types of materials that are allowed or restricted. A standardized test using a fixed form design will have a singular answer key.
Storyteller – This type of speaker has a firm grasp of language and is then able to use his/her lexicon to develop narratives that are complete. A storyteller is someone that explains, in detail, a process from start to finish, oftentimes linking concepts and themes throughout in writing and/or speech.
Student Proficiency Data Collection – The process used to collect the results of a student for the purpose identifying a proficiency level.
Superior – is a proficiency level where the language user can support an opinion, hypothesize, discuss topics concretely and abstractly and handle a linguistically unfamiliar situation.
Survivor – As it relates to language proficiency, a survivor is someone that has not mastered the language and instead demonstrates issues with literacy and communication. While the survivor may be able to discern meaning through context clues, the skills needed for effective communication may be underdeveloped, relying on memorized words and phrases, with possible errors in speech, interpretation, or writing.
Southern Conference on Language Teaching (SCOLT) – The mission of the Southern Conference on Language Teaching is the advancement of the study of modern and classical languages and their literatures and cultures at all levels of instruction.
Southwest Conference on Language Teaching (SWCOLT) – The Southwest Conference on Language Teaching is an organization which hosts an annual conference in conjunction with participation from several southern and southwestern states (as well as Hawaii). The goal of the conference includes dissemination of information as it relates to language education.
Target Language – Refers to the language that is the point of focus in a situation. A target language is circumstantial and is dependent on the environment. Also referred to as L2. Also referred to as the L2 or partner language.
Example: Professor Larsen explained to John that his speaking and writing responses were reported as “not ratable” because he wrote and spoke entirely in English on a German assessment; John did not respond in the target language.
Teacher Judgment – The process with which a teacher evaluates a student’s work. A teacher’s judgment is an informed decision that is data driven, transparent and can be replicated by other educators. The rationale for a teacher’s judgement may be outlined in a syllabus, class rubric, or assignment/exam instructions.
Example: To avoid any bias towards their favorite students and accurate teacher judgment, the faculty hosted an end of semester blind reading of final papers.
Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) – A curriculum standard in the state of Texas which outlines essential educational goals and target abilities for a range of subjects: science, mathematics, Spanish Language Arts and English as a Second Language, and Languages Other Than English. The State Board of Education (SBOE) has both the legislative oversight and ability to nominate individuals for review of TEKS.
Text-Type Characteristics – As it relates to writing, a text can vary in meaning and purpose. Whereas some texts may explain, educate or inform, other texts are written for entertainment purposes. The intent of a written work relies on the content of the information presented by the writer.
Transparent Language International – An online language learning software used by schools, governments, and business institutions. The software has more than 90 languages other than English available for language learning, including Polish, Turkish, Urdu and more. The online language program’s methodology is researched-based and customizable. Transparent Language International.
Two-Way Language Immersion – A type of language immersion program in which the student cohorts comprise of native speakers of the languages taught. For example, a Japanese/English TWI program might have 35% of students enrolled who are native speakers of Japanese, and the other 35% are native speakers of English. The ‘two’ in Two-way immersion refers to the two sources of native language: from the teacher and from the students.
Working Fluency – The level at which an individual can communicate and comprehend a world language. There is a floor (lowest skill level) and ceiling (highest skill level) to working fluency which establishes the range of skills that a person can accomplish with his/her level of language ability. Some government agencies and businesses (as well as education programs) require that a candidate possess an intermediate working fluency for tasks such as basic transcription or reviewing general information; while other institutions require someone with an advanced working fluency to complete specialized tasks such as mass communication, public speaking, or reports.
World Languages – As it relates to linguistics, a world language is one which is utilized internationally—whether through print, digital, audio, or other medium—and is a secondary or tertiary language that groups of people learn. Examples of world languages include Arabic, Japanese, Spanish and English. English is considered a world language, even though it is taught as a primary language in places like England and the United States. Other factors that impact which languages are world languages include the global number of speakers, the geographic distribution of speakers, the international sociopolitical milieu and even developments in technology—such as the internet.
World-Readiness Standards for Learning Languages – Array of goals and standards set forth by ACTFL. The goals (Communication, Cultures, Connections, Comparisons, and Communities) establish the areas that a world language learner should be prepared to effectively engage in once she or he is out of the classroom environment. Each goal has a set of standards, eleven standards in total, which provide further insight as to how a language learner can demonstrate successful fulfillment of one of the goals. World Readiness Standards for Learning Languages
Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) – A concept originally developed by Lev Vygotsky to describe the psychological development of learners. ZPD is the basis for the concept of socio-cultural learning as well as the argument for the practice of scaffolding in curriculum development.
Physically represented by a series of concentric circles, the outer rings represent what a learner can do with the assistance of an educator while the inner rings represent what a learner can do unaided. As the learner gains knowledge, skills, and confidence they move closed towards the middle of the circle, signaling their acquisition of a given skill. Illustration of ZPD.