Language proficiency testing for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program is conducted by Language Testing International (LTI), a division of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). ACTFL-certified testers administer the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) examination to participants before and after the summer institutes (8-10 weeks) as one means of measuring language learning outcomes. The OPI test is a proficiency-based assessment tool, measuring speaking skills in terms of overall functional ability in a spontaneous environment. The rating scale identifies five major levels of proficiency: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced, Superior, and Distinguished. The first three levels (Novice, Intermediate and Advanced) are further divided into Low, Mid, and High sublevels. Please visit the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines web site for more information about language proficiency and performance. Test score data from the CLS 2011 summer institutes demonstrate an average gain of two sublevels on the ACTFL proficiency scale (such as moving from Intermediate Low to Intermediate High). These gains represent a remarkable achievement for languages that typically require an average of 1,320-2,760 hours of formal intensive language training for native English speakers to reach professional (Superior) level speaking and reading proficiency skills (Judith E. Liskin-Gasparro. ETS Oral Proficiency Testing Manual. Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service, 1982).
This table shows the distribution of 2011 pre- and post-program language scores by proficiency level for 579 participants. This number excludes participants who declined to share test score results in aggregate form.
This bar chart shows the comparison of 2011 pre- and post-program language proficiency by major proficiency levels. This chart depicts the general trend in movement from the Novice range into the Intermediate range, movement within sublevels of the Intermediate range, and from the Intermediate range into the Advanced range.
This pie chart demonstrates participants’ language gain for the 2011 summer program. Gain is defined by the difference between pre- and post-program proficiency scores. A unit gain indicates movement from one sublevel to another. For example, Intermediate Low to Intermediate Mid represents a one unit gain, while Intermediate Low to Intermediate High represents a two unit gain. A threshold gain is defined as movement from one major proficiency level to another, such as crossing from the Novice range into the Intermediate range, or from the Intermediate range into the Advanced range. In very rare cases, participants have crossed two thresholds by moving from the Novice range into the Advanced range