Helping students of Arabic understand, self-assess, and improve their oral proficiency

2a. How do we measure oral proficiency?

students reading on a laptopOral proficiency is measured on how well you can perform certain language tasks, like exchanging greetings, giving directions, or persuading someone to do something.

Your performance on these tasks is compared to a set of guidelinesnot to other students' speech. These guidelines describe two things:

  • What kind of language tasks a speaker can perform at each level of proficiency
  • How well the speaker can consistently perform them

Should I study for an oral proficiency test?

An oral proficiency test is not a test you should study for. Oral proficiency tests are designed to be a realistic evaluation of how well you could communicate in an Arabic-speaking country if you were getting on a plane today.

How is an oral proficiency test different from a regular Arabic exam?

An oral proficiency test doesn't have any right or wrong answers, unlike a traditional academic language exam. It's all about how your language performance compares to the guidelines. Your oral proficiency does not necessarily predict your reading, writing, or listening proficiency, and vice versa.

There are various sets of proficiency guidelines used around the world, but most schools in the United States use the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines—Speaking (Revised, 2012).

Previous icon Next Icon