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The purpose of the initial assessment of English language proficiency is to obtain information regarding the student’s proficiency in listening, speaking, reading and writing. This information can be used to:

  • determine instructional starting points
  • identify initial language proficiency levels on the Alberta K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks
  • determine programming and instructional support.  

Conducting an Initial Language Proficiency Assessment

It is important to remember that a new student’s initial assessment may be influenced by feelings of stress and dislocation. In some cases students may underperform due to anxiety, a lack of confidence, and/or unfamiliarity with the local dialect and rate of speech. In these cases the student will often show a significant improvement in English language proficiency in four to six weeks as the student has become more comfortable, confident and familiar with the environment (see Considerations for Assessing Language Proficiency).

The initial language assessment should be conducted in a quiet and comfortable space in which the teacher can interact with the student one-on-one.

Establishing English Language Proficiency Levels

After initial English language assessment information has been gathered, the English language proficiency of an English language learner can be identified using the Alberta K–12 ESL Proficiency Benchmarks. The purpose of the ESL Benchmarks is to establish a baseline proficiency level, guide appropriate programming for English language learners, and monitor language proficiency growth and development. For more information, see Organizing for Instruction.

If the initial assessment reveals concerns regarding student learning or behaviour, additional assessment of the English language learner may be required.

Ongoing language proficiency assessment should be conducted throughout the year to assess the language proficiency progress of each English language learner.