Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Language Benchmarks

Language Benchmarks: English as a second language for adults provides a set of descriptors of what learners can do with English at various levels, expressed as 12 benchmarks for each of the four skill areas: listening, speaking, reading and writing. 

Their purpose is to describe accurately where the learner's ability to use English places him or her within the national descriptive framework of communicative language.

Language Benchmarks describe a person's ability to use the English language to accomplish a set of tasks at 12 Benchmark levels, in four language skill areas:

  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Writing

Each Benchmark contains:

  • A global performance, or a short Benchmark performance profile
  • Four selected competencies in social interaction, instructions, suasion and information
  • Examples of communication tasks that may be used to demonstrate the required standard of proficiency

LB: Chart Overview

The following table illustrates how similar competencies require increasing complexity of performance across the three stages of proficiency.


Stage I/
Benchmark 1

Stage II/

Benchmark 6


Stage III/

Benchmark 12

Competency: Reading Instructional Texts

Follow simple, short everyday
instructions in a predictable context.

Follow short common instructions and instructional texts.

Follow extensive, very complex
and/or specialized instructions
and instructional texts.

Sample Task:

Follow one-step instructions in educational materials in a classroom situation (e.g., print, copy, circle and underline, fill in, check and draw).

Explain/convey to someone health and safety warnings and instructions for use that are printed on chemical product labels (e.g., on dishwasher detergent containers).


Read selected personnel policy regulations and instructions, and apply the information to a specific case study situation.

Competency: Writing Recording Information

Copy words and phrases to record short information for personal use.

Reproduce and record simple to medium complexity information for various purposes (e.g., notes, summaries, main points and other formats).

Select and reproduce very complex information from multiple sources in a variety of appropriate formats.

Sample Task:

Copy information from an appointment note into a calendar (e.g., name, address, time).

Take point-form notes from one page written text or from a 10- to 15-minute oral presentation on a practical topic.

Write an article or paper for a public forum, presenting a synthesis or overview of an area of knowledge, based on multiple pieces of research or other publications.







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