At this level, students initially have limited or no understanding of English. They rarely use English for communication. They respond non-verbally to simple commands, statements, and questions. As their oral comprehension increases, they begin to imitate the verbalizations of others by using single words or simple phrases, and begin to use English spontaneously. At the earliest stage, these learners construct meaning from text primarily through non print features (e.g., illustrations, graphs, maps, tables). They gradually construct more meaning from the words themselves, but the construction is often incomplete. They are able to generate simple texts that reflect their knowledge level of syntax. These texts may include a significant amount of non-conventional features, such as invented spelling, some grammatical inaccuracies, pictorial representations, surface features and rhetorical patterns of the native language (i.e., ways of structuring text from native culture and language).
At this level, students understand more complex speech, but still may require some repetition. They acquire a vocabulary of stock words and phrases covering many daily situations. They use English spontaneously, but may have difficulty expressing all their thoughts due to a restricted vocabulary and a limited command of language structure. Students at this level speak in simple sentences, which are comprehensible and appropriate, but which are frequently marked by grammatical errors. They may have some trouble comprehending and producing complex structures and academic language. Proficiency in reading may vary considerably depending upon the learner’s familiarity and prior experience with themes, concepts, genre, characters, and so on. They are most successful constructing meaning from texts for which they have background knowledge upon which to build. They are able to generate more complex texts, a wider variety of texts, and more coherent texts than beginners. Texts still have considerable numbers of non-conventional features.
ESL 4 & ESL 5:
At this level, students’ language skills are adequate for most day-to-day communication needs. Occasional structural and lexical errors occur. Students may have difficulty understanding and using some idioms, figures of speech, and words with multiple meanings. They communicate in English in new or unfamiliar settings, but have occasional difficulty with complex structures and abstract academic concepts. Students at this level may read with considerable fluency and are able to locate and identify the specific facts within the text. However, they may not understand texts in which the concepts are presented in a decontextualized manner, the sentence structure is complex, or the vocabulary is abstract. They can read independently, but may have occasional comprehension problems. They produce texts independently for personal and academic purposes. Structures, vocabulary, and overall organization approximate the writing of native speakers of English. However, errors may persist in one or more of these domains.