At our school, students sit a Placement test on Day 1, which includes a formal 40-minute written task, and an informal speaking component, which usually stretches over the first morning of lessons following the test.
On the strength of their performance, students are placed in a group made up of learners at roughly similar levels of proficiency in English. The first one-and-a-half hours assesses and verifies communicative speaking and listening skills.
Levels of tuition range from Beginners to Advanced. Levels are labelled Beginners, Elementary, Pre-Intermediate, Lower Intermediate, Intermediate, Higher Intermediate Pre-Advanced and Advanced.
Elementary (Common European Framework Levels A1-A2)
Students with a low level of proficiency in English would benefit from an adequate graded focus on grammatical structure and form related to meaningful situations. This focus will, however, not exclude simple communicative activities early on in the course which will help elementary students to start interacting in the language straightaway in an attempt to build and maintain a motivating self-confidence.
- By the end of 120 hours of tuition, students at this level would be expected to be able to know and recognise the alphabet, and write in Roman script
- Recognize (if not accurately produce) all the sounds of English, including the frequent occurrence of unstressed syllables/ words
- Interact with an amount of fluency, (i.e. one which does not lead to a breakdown in communication), in a number of realistic everyday situations, including shopping, ordering a meal in a restaurant/hotel, asking for information/directions
- Describe a personal past or present experience; make and talk about future plans; describe people and houses; talk about numbers, days of the week and dates; talk about their families and jobs, abilities and skills; make, accept and reject suggestions and/or advice; ask for, give and understand directions and simple instructions
- Read and listen to and generally understand simple texts
- Write simple personal letters; fill in forms, short simple paragraphs
- Distinguish between personal and formal letters
- Demonstrate successful strategies which allow them to generally communicate effectively in situations when the language they are being exposed to (and their reaction to it) is beyond their current level of competence
Intermediate (Common European Framework Levels B1-B2)
Intermediate students would be encouraged to follow and actively participate in a skills- and task-based course, aimed at enabling them to maximise the time at their disposal to gain communicative self-confidence and a general fluency in English. It will also help them to improve their listening, reading and speaking skills in a realistic environment and situations, which go beyond the learning situation within the four classroom walls. Naturally, this will in no way exclude a necessary formal focus on grammatical structure and form leading to an ever increasing level of accuracy and an extension of the lexical base, both active and passive.
By the end of 120 hours of tuition, students at this level would be expected to be able to:
- Handle communication in most (familiar) situations
- Express with an acceptable amount of fluency and accuracy, using appropriate and varied vocabulary, their personal likes/dislikes and interests; talk about past and present experiences; make predictions and talk about the future; talk about obligation, prohibition and permission, express and justify opinions
- Speculate, compare contrast and evaluate; describe people, place and feelings in some detail; talk accurately about the past, present, future; report speech, thoughts and ideas; express regret, criticism and advice
- Participate successfully and coherently in realistic speaking activities, which demand effective, extended discourse, (e.g. discussion, simulation and role play, and short presentations), without undue prompting
- Have an easily understood pronunciation, albeit with an evident L1 accent
- Make an efficient use of a monolingual dictionary and keep memorable vocabulary records
- Show an ability to read both graded and authentic English texts with understanding, both for pleasure and study purposes
- Show an ability to listen to English texts with understanding both for pleasure and study purposes
- Write simple personal and formal letters, and short compositions; join link sentences and organise, sequence and link events and ideas
- Be able to recognise the importance of using appropriate registers in every situation
- Demonstrate a mastery of successful strategies which allow them to generally communicate effectively in situations when the language they are being exposed to is beyond their current level of competence
Advanced (Common European Framework Levels C1-C2)
It is believed that learners at this level benefit from a continuous exposure to authentic materials and tasks in a completely communicative framework. Thus, on a typical course at this level, such students would be involved in skills- , task-based and project work activities and simulations which would challenge their already acquired high linguistic skills and make further demands on both their fluency and accuracy levels. A focus on form (both spoken and written) will also form part of the course as necessary.
Learners at this level would be expected to be able to:
- Communicate with a fluency and accuracy in most situations including unfamiliar or unexpected real-life situations, in discussion groups, and longer presentations
- Use accurate and appropriate linguistic resources to express complex ideas and concepts with every interlocutor and in every situation
- Have a 'native-like' command of English pronunciation, interactive discourse and prosodic features, including turn taking, pausing and hesitation
- Be able to understand, discuss and interpret listening and reading texts of some length and complexity in a wide range of topics and register Write personal, formal and business letters, compositions (coherently written), reports, speeches