Getting a Handle on Fluency at C1

speak

A big part of being an English teacher is gauging our students’ abilities in relation to what is expected at the level they’re in.  It’s not an easy task by any means, but we do seem, after years of experience, to get a certain feel for it.  But the real trick is actually being able to nail it down a bit more, to point to concrete features of their spoken output that are more reliable measurements of their proficiency.  Let’s take a look at what fluency looks like for our advanced C1 learners.

Often times we might find ourselves saying things like “You know you’re fluent when you dream in English” or “You know you’re fluent when you think in English”, but what does that actually mean?  I don’t know about you, but if I’m giving my advanced students feedback on their speaking I want to point to something a little more specific (and professional sounding) than their dreams.

Continue reading

Five things you can do to identify the English level of your students

Five things you can do to identify the level of your students (2)September is for many of us the start of a new academic year, back to work and back to school. New students bring new challenges and objectives for both teachers and learners, and the first thing we need to know is: What level of English do they have? And secondly: How can we measure their ongoing progress?

Here are five ways to identify the level of your students ranging from informal home-made observation classroom activities to more scientific commercial products which have been carefully designed to identify levels of English. Continue reading

How to use the GSE to enhance and improve English assessments

How to use the GSE to enhance and improve English assessmentsThe Global Scale of English has been a great support and a positive change for my practice. As I previously discussed, the GSE can be used in a variety of ways, but my three favourite uses are as a tool for validating my students’ learning objectives, as a tool to enhance and improve my assessments, and, finally, as a tool to create content. In this discussion, I’d like to look at how you can use the GSE and the Teacher Toolkit to create custom rubrics and also explore the potential of the GSE Assessment Framework for teachers. First up, a refresher on rubrics (please skip to the section titled “Using the Global Scale of English to create English learning rubrics” if you’re already familiar with the concept). Continue reading

A guide to the GSE Learning Objectives

A guide to the GSE Learning ObjectivesWhen learning something new, maintaining a good level of motivation is key – and this applies to learning English, too. Students learn at different rates, and motivation will vary from learner to learner, so it’s useful to have a way to measure their English skills and provide step-by-step goals that they can aim for. The Global Scale of English (GSE) Learning Objectives can do just that.

The GSE is a global standard that allows teachers and learners to accurately measure progress. It provides an easy answer to students asking questions such as, “How good is my English?” and “Am I progressing?” To motivate students and help them move to the next level, the GSE Learning Objectives give learners guidance on what to concentrate on next. Learning a language requires a mix of skills across reading, writing, speaking and listening. If a student understands that they are weaker in one skill they can focus more on this area to help raise their overall proficiency score, or they can tailor their learning to meet the needs of their overall learning goal. They have all been constructed in accordance with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). Continue reading

Extending the CEFR across English and the globe

GSE-extends-CEFRThe Global Scale of English (GSE) is a new standardised, granular scale from 10 to 90, which measures English language proficiency. We have added over 950 new learning objectives to those already created for the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) including 300 each for general, academic and professional English. Learners can now track their progress from the start of their learning journey with 40 new learning objectives below A1.

How are GSE learning objectives created?

After reviewing existing learning objectives and identifying gaps, new learning objectives are reviewed and refined before being rated by thousands of teachers worldwide on the GSE and CEFR. The learning objectives then go through two rounds of data analysis by our psychometricians in order to calibrate them to the GSE. Any problematic learning objectives are removed, and the final list is checked again by content editors before being published. Continue reading

5 tools for incorporating the GSE as an online teacher

GSE Global Scale of EnglishIndependent tutor and digital learning pioneer Lana Friesen explains how she is combining the best programs and apps to help her students meet their learning goals…

Including all components of communication can be tricky in classrooms, especially those online. Using the GSE Learning Objectives and five other useful tools allows teachers to plan a full-spectrum curriculum for their students, regardless of the setting.

5 tools for incorporating the GSE (Global Scale of English) in online classrooms: Continue reading

What does it mean to be fluent in English?

What do we mean by English fluency, and how can understanding competencies across the four skills provide a more realistic picture of communicative English ability?

What is fluency?

fluent in EnglishAs someone who worked in dictionaries, the meaning of words has always interested me – and fluency is a particular case in point. Language learners often set themselves the goal of becoming fluent in a language. Job adverts often specify “fluent in English or Spanish” as a requirement. But what does being “fluent” in a language actually mean? If we look in the Longman Dictionary of Contemporary English (no apologies for plugging one of my own titles!), we see that fluent means “able to speak a language very well”. Fluent speech or writing is described as “smooth and confident, with no mistakes”. In general, fluency is most often associated with spoken language – but is that the goal of all language learners? And what does being able to speak fluently show about the other language skills? Continue reading