ASLPI Proficiency Levels

Except for LEVEL 5, the ASLPI proficiency level received may include the assignment of a plus value (+). This does not represent a midway point between two levels, but may be inferred to indicate that the examinee exceeds the requirements for a particular level but does not satisfy in all respects the requirements of the next higher level.


Level 5

Signers at this proficiency level are able to communicate with accuracy and fluency in order to participate fully and effectively in conversations on a wide variety of topics, both formal and informal and from concrete and abstract perspectives. They discuss their interests and special fields of competence, explain complex matters, and provide lengthy and coherent narrations, all with ease and impromptu detail. They present their opinions on issues and provide structured arguments to support those opinions. They are able to construct and develop hypotheses to explore alternative possibilities. They demonstrate no pattern of error in the use of basic structures, although they may make sporadic errors, particularly in low-frequency structures and in complex high-frequency structures. Such errors, if they do occur, do not distract or interfere with communication. They are able to use the language consistently with accuracy, complexity, flexibility and intuition and incorporate depth and breadth of vocabulary, colloquialisms, and pertinent culture references. Comprehension is excellent across a broad spectrum of topics, which includes fully understanding both what is stated, as well as what is inferred.

Level 4+

Signers at this proficiency level are able to demonstrate spontaneous elaboration on all familiar and unfamiliar, formal and informal topics but they are not able to maintain accuracy or complexity for the duration of the evaluation. Such discourse, while coherent, may be influenced by language patterns other than those of the target language. Even with this influence, they are consistently able to demonstrate all of the linguistic features required for high level proficiency. Comprehension is excellent across a broad spectrum of topics, and inferences are understood.

Level 4

Signers at this proficiency level are rarely taken as native signers. They demonstrate spontaneous elaboration on all familiar and most unfamiliar topics, however, there is incorporation of language patterns other than those of the target language. They are able to use an array of rhetoric (narration, description, argument, and hypothesis) with complex topics in paragraph-length discourse related to employment, current events, and matters of public and community interest. Although they command a good number of grammatical features, they are deficient in some areas such as cohesion, non-manual signals (NMS), and depiction. They are able to present information with sufficient accuracy, clarity, and vocabulary selection to convey intended meaning without misrepresentation or confusion. Comprehension is very good with demonstration of confidence in the discussion of most complex topics.

Level 3+

Signers at this proficiency level demonstrate spontaneous elaboration on all familiar and some unfamiliar topics with increasing incorporation of language patterns other than those of the target language. When they attempt to perform tasks at the next proficiency level, they exhibit features of breakdown, such as shorter paragraph-level discourse, errors with mapping, cohesion, affect and non-manual signals (NMS). Despite noticeable imperfections, they are able to present broad vocabulary with sufficient accuracy and clarity. Comprehension is good on all topics, but repetition and/or rephrasing might be needed.

Level 3

Signers at this proficiency level are able to express language with sufficient structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate in most familiar and unfamiliar topics about practical, social, and professional situations. They can discuss particular interests with reasonable ease. They demonstrate confidence discussing topics at the paragraph discourse level, but exhibit errors and breakdown when in-depth elaboration and detail is requested. Occasional groping for vocabulary can be present. There is good control of grammar but there are some noticeable imperfections and errors which may interfere with understanding. They tend to function reactively by responding to direct questions or requests for information. They are capable of asking a variety of questions when needed to gather information pertaining to certain situations. They may combine and recombine known language elements to create short paragraph length responses. Their language contains pauses and self-corrections as they search for adequate vocabulary and language forms. Comprehension is often accurate with highly familiar and predictable topics although misunderstandings may occur.

Level 2+

Signers at this proficiency level demonstrate less structural accuracy and vocabulary to participate in familiar and unfamiliar topics. When they attempt to perform tasks at the next proficiency level, they exhibit breakdown in the demonstration of language features, such as a reduction in depth, breadth and accuracy of vocabulary, affect, and non-manual signals (NMS). There is struggle linking ideas, using paraphrasing, or circumlocution which create errors that interfere with expression and understanding. Comprehension may be fairly good across topics but periodic repetition and/or rephrasing may be needed.

Level 2

Signers at this proficiency level are able to express uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward practical and social situations. They demonstrate the ability to elaborate on concrete and familiar topics (e.g., current events, work, family, autobiographical) with some confidence. They can also discuss with hesitancy some unfamiliar topics, relying on learned phrases, recombinations, and circumlocution. Sentences are discrete and are influenced by language patterns other than those of the target language with noticeable errors, ranging from occasional to considerable, affecting clarity. They may display self-repair ability. They are able to respond to simple, direct questions or requests for basic information. Their responses are short and may leave sentences incomplete. If asked to handle a variety of topics, accuracy cannot be maintained. Comprehension is good with familiar topics but frequent repetition and/or rephrasing are needed with unfamiliar topics.

Level 1+

Signers at this proficiency level are able to express personal meaning by combining and recombining what they know and what they receive from the interviewer. They create short statements and discrete sentences but they are not able to maintain the next higher proficiency level. While attempting to convey the message, their responses are filled with hesitancy and inaccuracies as they search for accurate linguistic forms and vocabulary. Their production, vocabulary and syntax are influenced by non-target language. Despite misunderstandings that require repetition or rephrasing, they can generally be understood by the interviewer who is accustomed to dealing with non-native language users. Comprehension limitations are evident due to the need for more frequent repetition or rephrasing of questions on both familiar and unfamiliar topics.

Level 1

Signers at this proficiency level are able to manage a number of uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward practical situations. Conversation is restricted to some concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for survival. Due to influence by non-target language, short sentences are primarily used which are sometimes inaccurate and/or incomplete in the present. Language may be hesitant, inaccurate or recombined. Limited vocabulary is apparent and memorized phrases at the elementary level are demonstrated (e.g., routine travel needs, minimum courtesy requirements, work, school, pets, hobbies). They resort to repetitive vocabulary or short utterances. They demonstrate sporadic confidence with frequent groping for vocabulary. They can understand simple questions and statements, but slowed communication and extralinguistic support are needed from the interviewer. Comprehension requires frequent repetition but misunderstanding may still occur.

Level 0+

Signers at this proficiency level are able to respond to simple, direct questions or requests for information but they are unable to maintain functions associated with the next higher proficiency level. They frequently resort to repetition, silence, hesitant pauses, and/or fingerspelling when they do not know the vocabulary. They demonstrate limited communicative exchanges with short phrases and/or non-target language sentences with memorized vocabulary, and topics are limited to survival needs (e.g., work, school, pets, hobbies). They attempt to recombine known vocabulary or incorporate vocabulary used by the interviewer. Comprehension is limited requiring considerable repetition and/or rephrasing, and slow simplified communication with extralinguistic support are needed.

Level 0

Signers at this proficiency level demonstrate no functional language ability and may be unintelligible. Given adequate time and familiar cues, they may be able to exchange greetings, provide limited background information, and identify a number of familiar objects from their immediate environment. They use memorized vocabulary. In the absence of needed vocabulary, they resort to fingerspelling or silence. Comprehension is limited or almost non-existent even with the most simplified and slow communication.
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