INTERAGENCY LANGUAGE ROUNDTABLE

LANGUAGE SKILL LEVEL DESCRIPTIONS


WRITING



Preface

The following proficiency level descriptions characterize written language
use. Each of the six "base levels" (coded 00, 10, 20, 30, 40, and 50)
implies control of any previous "base level's" functions and accuracy. The
"plus level" designation (coded 06, 16, 26, etc.) will be assigned when
proficiency substantially exceeds one base skill level and does not fully
meet the criteria for the next "base level." The "plus level" descriptions
are therefore supplementary to the "base level" descriptions.

A skill level is assigned to a person through an authorized language
examination. Examiners assign a level on a variety of performance criteria
exemplified in the descriptive statements. Therefore, the examples given
here illustrate, but do not exhaustively describe, either the skills a
person may possess or situations in which he/she may function effectively.

Statements describing accuracy refer to typical stages in the development of
competence in the most commonly taught languages in formal training
programs. In other languages, emerging competence parallels these
characterizations, but often with different details.

Unless otherwise specified, the term "native writer" refers to native
writers of a standard dialect.

"Well-educated," in the context of these proficiency descriptions, does not
necessarily imply formal higher education. However, in cultures where
formal higher education is common, the language-use abilities of persons who
have had such education is considered the standard. That is, such a person
meets contemporary expectations for the formal, careful style of the
language, as well as a range of less formal varieties of the language.

Writing 0 (No Proficiency)

No functional writing ability. (Has been coded W-0 in some nonautomated
applications.)

Writing 0+ (Memorized Proficiency)

Writes using memorized material and set expressions. Can produce symbols in
an alphabetic or syllabic writing system or 50 of the most common
characters. Can write numbers and dates, own name, nationality, address,
etc., such as on a hotel registration form. Otherwise, ability to write is
limited to simple lists of common items such as a few short sentences.
Spelling and even representation of symbols (letters, syllables,
characters) may be incorrect. (Has been coded W-0+ in some nonautomated
applications.)

Writing 1 (Elementary Proficiency)

Has sufficient control of the writing system to meet limited practical
needs. Can create by writing statements and questions on topics very
familiar to him/her within the scope of his/her very limited language
experience. Writing vocabulary is inadequate to express anything but
elementary needs; writes in simple sentences making continual errors in
spelling, grammar, and punctuation, but writing can be read and understood
by a native reader used to dealing with foreigners attempting to write
his/her language. Writing tends to be a loose collection of sentences (or
fragments) on a given topic and provides little evidence of conscious
organization. While topics which are "very familiar" and elementary needs
vary considerably from individual to individual, any person at this level
should be able to write simple phone messages, excuses, notes to service
people, and simple notes to friends. (800-1000 characters controlled.)
(Has been coded W-1 in some nonautomated applications.)

Writing 1+ (Elementary Proficiency, Plus)

Sufficient control of writing system to meet most survival needs and limited
social demands. Can create sentences and short paragraphs related to most
survival needs (food, lodging, transportation, immediate surroundings and
situations) and limited social demands. Can express fairly accurate present
and future time. Can produce some past verb forms but not always accurately
or with correct usage. Can relate personal history, discuss topics such as
daily life, preferences, and very familiar material. Shows good control of
elementary vocabulary and some control of basic syntactic patterns, but
major errors still occur when expressing more complex thoughts. Dictionary
usage may still yield incorrect vocabulary or forms, although the individual
can use a dictionary to advantage to express simple ideas. Generally cannot
use basic cohesive elements of discourse to advantage (such as relative
constructions, object pronouns, connectors, etc.). Can take notes in some
detail on familiar topics, and respond to personal questions using
elementary vocabulary and common structures. Can write simple letters,
summaries of biographical data and work experience with fair accuracy.
Writing, though faulty, is comprehensible to native speakers used to
dealing with foreigners. (Has been coded
W-1+ in some nonautomated applications.)

Writing 2 (Limited Working Proficiency)

Able to write routine social correspondence and prepare documentary
materials required for most limited work requirements. Has writing
vocabulary sufficient to express himself/herself simply with some
circumlocutions. Can write simply about a very limited number of current
events or daily situations. Still makes common errors in spelling and
punctuation but shows some control of the most common formats and
punctuation conventions. Good control of morphology of language (in
inflected languages) and of the most frequently used syntactic structures.
Elementary constructions are usually handled quite accurately and writing
is understandable to a native reader not used to reading the writing of
foreigners. Uses a limited number of cohesive devices. (Has been coded W-2
in some nonautomated applications.)

Writing 2+ (Limited Working Proficiency, Plus)

Shows ability to write with some precision and in some detail about most
common topics. Can write about concrete topics relating to particular
interests and special fields of competence. Often shows surprising fluency
and ease of expression, but under time constraints and pressure language may
be inaccurate and/or incomprehensible. Generally strong in either grammar
or vocabulary but not in both. Weaknesses or unevenness in one of the
foregoing or in spelling result in occasional miscommunication. Areas of
weakness range from simple constructions such as plurals, articles,
prepositions, and negatives to more complex structures such as tense usage,
passive constructions, word order, and relative clauses. Normally controls
general vocabulary with some misuse of everyday vocabulary evident. Shows a
limited ability to use circumlocutions. Uses dictionary to advantage to
supply unknown words. Can take fairly accurate notes on material presented
orally and handle with fair accuracy most social correspondence. Writing is
under-standable to native speakers not used to dealing with foreigners'
attempts to write the language, though style is still obviously foreign.
(Has been coded W-2+ in some nonautomated applications.)

Writing 3 (General Professional Proficiency)

Able to use the language effectively in most formal and informal written
exchanges on practical, social, and professional topics. Can write reports,
summaries, short library research papers on current events, on particular
areas of interest, or on special fields with reasonable ease. Control of
structure, spelling, and general vocabulary is adequate to convey his/her
message accurately, but style may be obviously foreign. Errors virtually
never interfere with comprehension and rarely disturb the native reader.
Punctuation generally controlled. Employs a full range of structures.
Control of grammar good with only sporadic errors in basic structures,
occasional errors in the most complex frequent structures, and somewhat more
frequent errors in low-frequency complex structures. Consistent control of
compound and complex sentences. Relationship of ideas is consistently
clear. (Has been coded W-4 in some nonautomated applications.)

Writing 3+ (General Professional Proficiency, Plus)

Able to write the language in a few prose styles pertinent to
professional/educational needs. Not always able to tailor language to suit
audience. Weaknesses may lie in poor control of low-frequency complex
structures, vocabulary, or the ability to express subtleties and nuances.
May be able to write on some topics pertinent to professional/ educational
needs. Organization may suffer due to lack of variety in organizational
patterns or in variety of cohesive devices. (Has been coded W-3+ in some
nonautomated applications.)

Writing 4 (Advanced Professional Proficiency)

Able to write the language precisely and accurately in a variety of prose
styles pertinent to professional educational needs. Errors of grammar are
rare, including those in low-frequency complex structures. Consistently
able to tailor language to suit audience and able to express subtleties and
nuances. Expository prose is clearly, consistently, and explicitly
organized. The writer employs a variety of organizational patterns, uses a
wide variety of cohesive devices such as ellipsis and parallelisms, and
subordinates in a variety of ways. Able to write on all topics normally
pertinent to professional/educational needs and on social issues of a
general nature. Writing adequate to express all his/her experiences. (Has
been coded W-4 in some nonautomated applications.)

Writing 4+ (Advanced Professional Proficiency, Plus)

Able to write the language precisely and accurately in a wide variety of
prose styles pertinent to professional/educational needs. May have some
ability to edit but not in the full range of styles. Has some flexibility
within a style and shows some evidence of a use of stylistic devices. (Has
been coded W-4+ in some nonautomated applications.)

Writing 5 (Functionally Native Proficiency)

Has writing proficiency equal to that of a well-educated native. Without
non-native errors of structure, spelling, style, or vocabulary can write and
edit both formal and informal correspondence, official reports and
documents, and professional/educational articles including writing for
special purposes which might include legal, technical, educational,
literary, and colloquial writing. In addition to being clear, explicit, and
informative, the writing and the ideas are also imaginative. The writer
employs a very wide range of stylistic devices. (Has been coded W-5 in some
nonautomated appli-cations.)