First-year students are admitted into the various levels of instruction based upon the results of the placement exam and oral interviews with the Placement Committee. Appeals are dealt with by the Committee, with input from the language instructors when appropriate. Since not all students will enter a class with identical abilities in the various skills (listening, speaking, reading, writing), flexibility in assigning students to the various levels is unavoidable and, to some extent, desirable. The ACTFL-devised categories of abilities (novice, intermediate, advanced) are useful in determining placement and outcomes.
Exit: Novice mid
Listening: Can understand some sentence-length utterances on topics such as self, family/friends, leisure/activities/daily routines, food/beverage, school life, shopping, weather, and traffic and transportation, especially when context strongly supports understanding, and speech is clearly audible. Comprehends words and phrases from simple questions, statements, high-frequency commands, and courtesy formulae.
Speaking: Can ask questions or make sentences involving learned material. Should have achieved mastery of the pinyin romanization system. can pronounce learned vocabulary items and short phrases with correct tones.
Reading: Can read simple texts on topics given above. Able to read standardized messages, phrases, or expressions, such as items on restaurant menus, traffic signs, schedules, timetables, and maps. Can recognize approximately 400 Chinese characters.
Writing: Can write simple, fixed expressions and short sentences on topics given above. Can write own name, own nationality, numbers, dates, and other simple autobiographical information. Can write approximately 200 Chinese characters.
Entry: Novice mid
Exit: Intermediate low
Listening: Can understand sentence-length utterances that consist of recombinations of learned elements in a limited number of content areas, such as personal background and needs, social conventions, and routine tasks, including receiving simple instructions and directions. Exhibits a basic ability to extrapolate based on function and context.
Speaking: Can produce, with correct tones and pronunciation, sentences that consist of recombinations of learned elements in a limited number of content areas. Exhibits a basic ability to communicate information with occasional non-grammatical sentences. Can accurately express intentions through oral communications that are deemed socially and culturally appropriate by native speakers of Chinese.
Reading: Can understand main ideas from simple connected texts dealing with personal background and daily needs. These texts are made of noncomplex, short sentences about non-abstract concepts, and consist of recombinations of learned elements. Contents may include messages with social purposes, such as public announcements or short personal communications, as well as simple short stories imparting cultural and historical information. Exhibit basic proficiency in employing strategies, such as recognizing all major radicals, to extrapolate based on function and context the meanings of texts with a reasonable number of unfamiliar characters.
Writing: Can accurately and appropriately convey basic ideas and intentions about personal background and daily needs through written characters. Exhibits proficiency in writing noncomplex, short sentences about non-abstract concepts, consisting of the recombination of learned elements. Written texts may include personal communications and descriptions of such personal information as background, experiences, preferences, and basic views. Can use pinyin to input written communications for electronic devices, such as computers and/or cell phones.
Entry: Intermediate low
Exit: Intermediate mid
Listening: Can understand sustained speech on practical and social topics related to school, home, and leisure activities and, to a lesser degree, those related to work, current events, and personal interests.
Speaking: Can communicate on practical and social topics; participate in conversations on activities related to school, home, and leisure activities and, to a lesser degree, those related to events of work, current, public, and personal interest or individual relevance; narrate and describe in all major time frames (past, present, and future); present rough ideas, opinions, arguments, and hypotheses in paragraph length discourse that is generally understood by native speakers unaccustomed to non-natives.
Reading: Can understand quasi-authentic materials (i.e., those that are slightly revised for language learners) on practical and social topics related to school, home, and leisure activities and, to a lesser degree, those related to events of work, current, public, and personal interest or individual relevance.
Writing: Can write routine informal correspondence; narrate and describe in all major time frames and in connected discourse of paragraph; express meaning that is comprehensible to those unaccustomed to the writing of non-natives, primarily through basic vocabulary, with good control of the most frequently used structures.
Entry: Intermediate mid
Exit: Advanced low
Listening: Can understand with ease conversations on practical and social topics; follow presentations on professional topics of personal interest and individual relevance.
Speaking: Can communicate effectively on practical and social topics; engage in conversations on professional topics of personal interest and individual relevance; present ideas, opinions, arguments, and hypotheses with a level of clarity and precision that is easily understood by native speakers unaccustomed to non-natives; and a variety of abstract topics.
Reading: Can comprehend authentic materials on non-specialized topics with the help of English-Chinese and Chinese-Chinese dictionaries; appreciate the differences between formal and informal styles in syntax as well as vocabulary; can extrapolate meanings from context.
Writing: Can produce most kinds of informal and some kinds of formal correspondence; present ideas, opinions, arguments, and hypotheses in well connected paragraphs with a level of clarity and precision that is easily understood by native speakers unaccustomed to non-natives.
Advanced (Fifth-Year) Chinese
Entry: Advanced low
Exit: Advanced mid
Listening: Can understand discourse designed for native speakers (as opposed to those designed for educational uses), such as news broadcasts, public announcements, etc.; can follow discussions on unfamiliar and abstract/conceptual topics and understand viewpoints from all sides.
Speaking: Can participate in discussions in linguistically unfamiliar situations with the aid of concrete examples (e.g. in a professional meeting, accepting an award, giving a short speech, etc.); handle discourse with nearly full linguistic control and cultural accuracy in familiar situations.
Reading: Can understand, discuss, and analyze texts of abstract topics at conceptual levels; can understand, detect and infer messages from written texts; can differentiate and discuss various styles of writing.
Writing: Can present and defend opinions at paragraph levels on abstract topics sustained with appropriate supporting arguments; begin to handle a variety of formal writing (e.g. business letters, academic research reports, etc.).