The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), has created reliable tests delivered by Language Testing International (LTI), that measure a subject’s ability to achieve various measures of proficiency when reading in a second language. Second language acquisition usually entails much more than simply studying another language for a few years on one’s own or in a classroom. To attain high levels of native-like competence in reading can sometimes require years of complete immersion in both the culture and the language itself. This allows an individual to not only understand standard versions of the language, but also to understand the more colloquial aspects of language that native speakers use in their vernacular. To live, study, or work in a target culture successfully, it is imperative to be literate in that target language.
There has been renewed interest and emphasis on language literacy in the past few years as 21st century global citizens need to not only speak a second language but also read and write in that language as well. A truly effective test of reading proficiency assesses a candidate’s ability to comprehend and understand a variety of different kinds of real-world texts. Testing for a person’s understanding of grammatical rules and lists of vocabulary is neither an effective nor an accurate measure of true reading ability and literacy.
To get a more realistic understanding of what candidates’ actual reading proficiency levels are, it’s important to establish not only what kinds of texts they can comprehend, but what kinds of texts they can’t. In so doing, one can establish both a “floor” and a “ceiling” for their reading proficiency levels, which indicate the different types of texts and associated aspects of language in which they can successfully operate. For example, some speakers may have little difficulty with a straightforward news passage, but they would struggle if presented with classical literature filled with analogies, metaphors, and indirectly stated points.
In other words, for a reading ability test to effectively measure how a subject can read in the target language, it has to test a variety of reading types. As such, the test offered through LTI measures not only assesses the test taker’s ability to understand individual words, sentences, paragraphs, and essays, but also his or her ability to read and comprehend a wide selection of simple to complex text types. After all, we all encounter a variety of reading texts and tasks in our day-to-day lives, so a an effective reading test needs to be a comprehensive measure of the ability to read everything from narrative, fictional texts to factual, informational, texts and beyond.
No matter what your company may need, LTI can provide an ACTFL-designed reading ability test to meet your requirements.
Lisa March is a bilingual Marketing and Sales Executive. She works closely with LTI on strategic partnerships, business development and marketing. Her efforts help LTI scale the use and implementation of language assessments in schools, institutions, corporations and government agencies.