Proficiency Scales

Proficiency scales have been developed to make proper judgments on the kinds of tasks a language speaker is able to perform, or to compare the abilities of different speakers. These scales provide profiles of speakers at various levels of ability, outlining the communication tasks expected at each level and how well speakers are able to perform them.

Encompassing areas of expertise such as communication tasks, discourse type, fluency, vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar, a proficiency scale provides universal criteria against which an individual's performance can be compared.

There are a number of popular proficiency scales – information about the three listed below is available here: the ACTFL scale, the ILR scale, and the CEFR scale.

LTI can provide reliable ratings against any of these scales.


The ACTFL proficiency guidelines were developed in 1986 and revised in 2012. They are comprehensive descriptions of proficiency for speaking, writing, listening, and reading. They are the standard measure of proficiency in academia and international business settings, and are recognized by all government agencies. The scale is depicted by an inverted pyramid below:

The ACTFL guidelines have been translated in to 13 languages. There is a site dedicated to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines with examples of the levels which can be reached by clicking here.

LTI is the exclusive licensee of ACTFL assessments and the only organization authorized to issue official ACTFL ratings.