Keep Testing Yourself 3: The ILR Scale

After this post you will be ready to will be ready to test yourself. We have talked about why, we have confronted our fears, and I was even bold enough to share my results.

Now what you need is a scale which to measure your results too. I understand not everyone has access to tester in their language but if you test yourself and understand a language scale- you can probably pretty accurately access your own results.

The scale I use is The ILR scale Wiki. This is the inter agency Language Round table scale. What you need to know about it is that it is how the pros scale language ability (it also has a great website with more information)

The scale works on a 0-5 scale. 0 is a language you don’t know. 5 is the language you speak natively. Now its 1-4 that are the more interesting shades of grey.

Level 1 is what I called the survival stage. You are able to get your basic needs met. You have enough memorized vocab to buy your food and with context clues understand other basic things like time and directions.

Level 2- “Limited Working Proficiency” my current level- I think of this as “the just enough to be dangerous” level. I know speak more Turkish then my friends who cannot really speak English. So I am able to get through basic social situations. I can tell people a little about my self. I can handle my day to day work and  solve basic problems (Can you handle your own repairman?) I may not have confident use of grammar or accent but I am usually intelligible.

Level 3 – “Wow you speak… (or its official more boring name “professional working proficiency”. ) This level is my goal because this is the level the US government uses to measure how many people speak a language. This means you can handle most normal conversations and conversations about any specialty. You can understand people when they speak at a normal rate.  And you know enough vocabulary not have to be looking up words in conversation. And while you have a foreign accent your speech and grammar do not interfere with native speakers understanding you.

Level 4- Now your just showing off (or Full professional proficiency.) You are able to use the language fluently in all normal circumstances. You are now more able to use the language getting the precise meaning. Now they may not take you as a native speaker but you do not make many errors in grammar, you know the informal language, and can even handle yourself in unfamiliar situations.

So those are the basic levels. Each level has .5 or plus level (eg 0+, 2+ ect) which indicates while you may not be at the next level- you far exceed your basic level.

Now here is the bonus as to why this is such a good scale- the ILR website has everything you need to see your levels in each 8 categories.

So you can take what you did not your test and what feed back you got back see what level you best fit in. For example lets see what it says level 2 speaking is like…

Based on their description:

  • Can you handle routine interactions?
  • Can you get the gist of a conversation?
  • Can you speak and get your message out, even if it is with a lot of errors?

If you have a native speaker help test you after I would ask them these kinds of questions to find out what level your speaking is at. And you can do this with your corrected writing and listening. Now you know so coming up next- The test.

P.S. The scale is helpful because you can also use it to do a self evaluation to help you see where you might be if you have no clue. Self Evalations are good but they are not a replacement for test because with a test someone from the outside is looking at your work and can give feedback.

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