English language learners of varying skill levels arrive at educational institutions such as elementary and secondary schools, language schools and colleges and universities. English proficiency tests place the language learners in programs and courses according to language skills. You can develop your own test questions or select testing programs by reviewing sample test questions for English proficiency.
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Background questions involve assessing whether the language learner can provide basic information in daily situations. Ask the language learners their last names, first names, addresses and phone numbers. Other questions include date of birth, age and nationality. If the language learner has difficulty answering these questions, then consider remedial, survival-level English instruction to help the language learner navigate everyday situations.
Ask the English language learners about experiences from their past. Some examples include asking about past schooling, living situations and travel. These topics necessitate a use of past tense verbs and key words such as "last year" and "yesterday." Assess the language learners' skill level. Are they talking about the past with present tense verbs, as in, "Last year, I move to the United States." In this case, the language learner would benefit from beginning grammar instruction. If the language learner can answer in past tense, but with errors in irregular verbs, such as "I drived with my family," then intermediate to advanced grammar can help.
Ask the language learners about their present situation. Listen for the use of simple present and present progressive, along with auxiliary verbs. Novice English language learners typically confuse the grammatical construction of present tenses. It's usual to hear "I am go to the store," or "I going to work." Other confusions involve active and passive. Listen for favourite activities or movies, with descriptions such as "The movie is excited" or "We are exciting at the movie." These types of errors indicate intermediate errors.
Find out information about future plans for each language learner. The questions give you an opportunity to become acquainted with the language learners' goals and language proficiency. Beginning learners may not have the skills to use future tense verbs. Common construction errors may include "I will going to college next year," or "I am go to college next year." Ask questions involving two future actions. Note the replies to a sample question such as "How long will you have been in the United States by next year?" A blank stare in reply lets you know this is a beginning or intermediate learner. If you get a correct answer, then the language learner has advanced proficiency.
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