ACTFL Communication Standard

For most language teachers, the primary “bread and butter” of our course is Communication. This year, in my quest to be more standards-based in my instruction as well as more proficient at communicating the standards to my students and their parents, I have had several things on my mind.

First, I realize that there are now 3 modes rather than 4 skills.  How often and in how many different ways should I be assessing students in each mode?  How do you do it?

I’d really like some more ideas and to collaborate with some of you on how you assess the various modes in your classroom!

In Spanish 2, here is what my class will look like in terms of the modes:

Interpretive Listening

Song quizzes every 1 1/2 – 2 weeks.  After studying a song, students take a cloze quiz and are also asked to interpret the meaning of various words in context.

Commercials.  We will do cloze listening activities with a variety of commercials.

Myths, legends, and stories project.  Students will select from a variety of audio clips of different myths, legends, and stories.  They will use the audio as the basis of a video project in which they select or create appropriate  images for the audio.

Identifying pictures.  After learning the story of Jorge el curioso va a la fábrica de chocolate, students will view several pictures from the book, listen as I read descriptions of the pictures, and they will select the picture I am describing.

Interpretive Reading

We will read a total of 4 novels in the class.  Students will read and take quizzes recalling the information they have read.

Students will complete a “Choice board” project in which they choose from a variety of options in which they demonstrate their comprehension of the reading.

Presentational Writing

Students will write an in-class narrative based on a picture.

Presentational Speaking

Students called Google Voice and described pictures from a story we had learned in class.

Interpersonal Speaking/Listening

Students will discuss what they did over the weekend with classmates each Monday.  They will have assessments in which they use Google voice to record several of these conversations.

Students listened to a guest speaker from Perú.  They formed questions for her with a partner and asked her the questions.

Interpersonal Writing/Reading

I’d like to have my students write to our new Peruvian friend (who is an English teacher there) and ask her students some questions!





  1. ¡Hola! Here by way of a ‘Net search for authentic resources for comprehensible input. Thank you for your post on the same. It gives me a good list of resources to investigate.

    Your question hasn’t been one discussed by my dept. However, it is one that I, myself, have been contemplating. I use Google Voice from time to time, but, having read your post, and the reply from the previous commenter, I am going to become more intentional about integrating assessments using Google Voice on a more regular basis – at least once per trimester – my school is on a trimester system.

    Additionally, I think that, at least for me, Sra. López presents a workable schema for addressing each of the modes in a meaningful way. So, I am going to aim for at least four during a given trimester with each of my classes. I teach 7th and 8th grade Spanish 1, and Spanish 2 to mostly 9th and 10th graders; I have one 11th grader.

    Incidentally, I read a tweet last weekend from a language teacher that said, “We’ve been focusing on communication for over 20 years now, and students still can’t speak.” Something to think about, and, all the more reason to explore meaningful ways to assess the various communicative modes.

    Thank you for your post!

  2. Within my department we have brought up these questions. We have 4 marking periods during the year. As summative assessments we minimally give one interpersonal (google voice), one interpretive (authentic article) and two presentational (google voice speaking and writing performance assessment). We try to create authentic situational students performance assessments. For example, we teach about train stations in Spanish II. The cumulative presentational writing assessment would be : (all in target language – spanish) you are in Madrid and need to get to Sevilla for the feria. You decide to take the train. Describe your trip. What train did you take?. You did have one problem. Remember to include all of the steps of train travel 1. Buying ticket, 2. Waiting for train 3. Getting on train 4. Your train ride.
    We try to make performance assessments related to real world experiences. Not sure if there is a set number but we are adjusting. It is a nice wl educator conversation starter. Great post!

    1. Gracias Señora López! This is exactly the type of feedback I was hoping for. I’d like to really get a good idea of how others are interpreting these modes in their assessments. It sounds like you and I are thinking similarly. Thanks for your comment!

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