This interactive activity by Sylvain F. (a former JCPS French teacher) will clearly explain proficiency levels to your students. I generally use this during the first week of school and it really sets the tone for the goals of the class. It is all about what you CAN do in the language!

Before class, print the cards. In level 1, you do not have to use the Intermediate Mid or High cards.

In class introduce the daily goal to students. I chose this goal because they have to understand the levels before they can set their own.

Create 4 groups of students or more if you use all the cards. Give each group one piece of large paper and one card with a proficiency sub-level (Novice Low, Novice Mid, Novice High, & Intermediate Low). If you have a large class, you may want to create two groups for each task. Show them the “assessment.” Personalize it! You can change “your school” to anything you want that they are talking about now: state fair, circus, taco, a current pop band, a yummy candy bar, etc.

Students follow the instructions on the card and write it on the paper. Each group presents to the class, and then puts it on the wall. After the groups present, you can explain how the proficiency levels correspond to the text types they heard from each group. We talk about what I expect them to be able to do by the end of the semester. This sample picture is from Kim W.’s classroom about the circus.


After the explanation, you can have the students describe what proficiency means in their own words or set their own words. I will keep these up for awhile as a reference. Hopefully students will have a clear understanding (and maybe some relief!) of the class expectations. Below is how I explain what novices will be able to do:



They really help students understand your expectations and what each step of language growth looks like along the way. (Perfect for Back to School open houses or parent night, too!) We also have a week of lessons to set the “proficiency tone” on that includes an updated version of this activity with a deeper explanation.

How will you explain the proficiency levels to your students?