Assessing Speaking Proficiency in the Undergraduate Curriculum: Data from French


  • Sally Sieloff Magnan

    1. University of Wisconsin—Madison
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      Sally Sieloff Magnan (Ph.D., Indiana University—Bloomington) is Assistant Professor of French at the University of Wisconsin—Madison.


ABSTRACT  With increasing use of the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview, especially in conjunction with college foreign language requirements and teacher certification, it is imperative that we understand how well our students currently function in speaking a foreign language. This article presents research rating the speaking proficiency on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview of University of Wisconsin French students at four levels of study: end of first year, end of second year, third year or minor, and end of fourth year or major. The data show a significant, positive relationship between level of proficiency and level of study. Each level of study includes a range of overlapping proficiency levels. Findings are discussed in detail for each level of study, and the UW data are compared with available data and related proposed requirements nationwide. The conclusion calls for an extended data base and acceleration of test development in other skill areas, in order to provide for realistic and comprehensive proficiency testing in our foreign language programs.