Summary of ISLPR | Marking Criteria

How is an ISLPR® test marked?

In an ISLPR® test, we assess your overall proficiency in each macroskill of speaking, listening, reading and writing separately. Proficiency is a highly complex concept. There are many features that contribute to what we call language. Many of these are listed in the table, Key Features of Each Macroskill. However, we cannot just test one or two or even a few of these features and say that that is your proficiency. Proficiency in a language comes about from the interaction between the features that make up each of the macroskills, better, from the co-occurrence of these features.

In other words, someone might have very good formal knowledge of grammar but his or her articulation (pronunciation) might be very different from a native speaker’s and so comprehensibility to another speaker of the language might be very low and this would have an adverse effect on the overall proficiency rating in speaking. On the other hand, speakers from a language linguistically closer to English may pronounce words very clearly and precisely but their knowledge of grammar and their ability to put words together to make meaning in English may be much less and this would similarly affect the overall proficiency rating.

Sometimes candidates complain that we don’t give them explicit criteria that they can “learn” for a test. A language is not just knowledge but importantly involves the ability to put all of that knowledge together in communicating. Many students are used to university courses where they can be given very specific criteria that they can follow or that can guide them to bone up on specific topics or even write an assignment in a specific way. That is simply not the nature of real language or language proficiency. In an ISLPR® test, we assess each candidate’s real life, practical language ability, not just their formal knowledge but how they can put all the parts of each macroskill together to communicate and understand in real life contexts. That is, the ISLPR® test is not just a theoretical test of your language skills, it is a practical test of your English language skills.

What is the ISLPR®

The acronym, ISLPR®, refers to a detailed scale that describes real-life language behaviour at 12 levels from zero to native-like proficiency. The tester’s task is to observe a candidate’s real-life language behaviour, consider all the features that make up language, and consider how or to what extent they work together successfully in the candidate’s use of English (if that is the target language or even in another language, since ISLPR® is equally applicable to other languages). That is a complex task and our testers are thoroughly trained with a higher degree (Master or Ph.D.) in linguistics and language teaching and then have specific training in the ISLPR®.

Summary of the ISLPR® Scale

The following table provides the number of the ISLPR® proficiency level, the short name of each proficiency level, and the introductory summary description from the “General Description of Language Behaviour” of each level.  The full description of the proficiency at each level is much longer. Each description of each macroskill at each level fills an A4 page in three columns:  General Description of Language Behaviour, Examples of Language Behaviour, and Comment.  A full proficiency statement identifies each macroskill separately, e.g. S:1+, L:2, R:1, W:1+.

We have included a preview of the table below. To download the full table click here.

Number Name Short Description of Language Behaviour Examples of how the Language can be used at this Level
S:0, L:0, R:0, W:0 Zero Proficiency Unable to communicate in the language. Unable to use the language for any purpose.
S:0+, L:0+, R:0+, W:0+ Formulaic Proficiency Able to perform in a very limited capacity within the most immediate, predictable areas of own need, using essentially formulaic language. Single word utterances or simple formulae in predictable areas of need.
S:1-, L:1-, R:1-, W:1- Minimum ‘Creative’ Proficiency Able to satisfy own immediate, predictable needs, using predominantly formulaic language. Can make simple material purchases or give predictable information about self or immediate others.
S:1, L:1, R:1, W:1 Basic Transactional Proficiency Able to satisfy own basic everyday transactional needs. Can make basic transactions in familiar shops, institutions, public transport, restaurant, or in very basic social interactions (e.g. making an appointment).
S:1+, L:1+, R:1+, W:1+ Transactional Proficiency Able to satisfy own simple everyday transactional needs and limited social needs.

In ‘vocational’ (e.g. work) situations can communicate simple routine needs and provide basic details of less predictable occurrences; in social situations, can make introductions, give basic biographical information, and convey simple intentions or attitudes.