After the activities are over, it will be good for you to sit down with the learner and discuss with him or her how the current language learning process is going.
What is he struggling with? What is she enjoying? What are they doing in their language lessons, if they’re doing lessons?
Get a pretty good picture of what language learning and daily life looks like, including specific activities they’re doing and their general attitude about language at the moment.
(Note: You could ask these questions through a questionnaire before the assessment, so that you’re more prepared for the post-assessment discussion.)
Based on that knowledge, you can start to give some ideas for going forward. Give the learner a picture of his or her current capabilities based on the assessment (using the criteria listed in the “What to Assess” posts ), and in what ways he or she can hope to grow in the next period. Give clear examples of what to change or do differently, of activities to try out, of things to watch out for, of ways he or she may start to see growth in the near future. Then set some reasonable, measurable goals for the next period before the next assessment.
Get a pretty good picture of what language learning looks like!
So there you have it:
An outline for how to go through an assessment which, if done well, will be practical, realistic and encouraging for the learner. “But wait!” you say. “What about a scale? Can’t we tell people what level they’ve reached?” Well, you can certainly use certain scales (ACTFL’s scale, for example) to quantify the learner’s ability, if you would like.
But my opinion is that the language learning scales that are out there don’t give a very accurate or helpful picture of a learner’s abilities or of the way in which learners tend to grow. These scales tend to neglect a lot of proficiencies, and bundle everything into a one-word level which tells you little about your actual capability.
Two different people rated as “Intermediate High”, for example, may be very different in their proficiencies, and hence would need quite different recommendations in order to continue to grow. So if you’re not required to use those scales, I’d recommend not using them. They just don’t seem to be very helpful in the end.
That’s all for now. Let me know what questions/comments you have. Thanks!