What is language proficiency testing? 

Language proficiency describes one’s ability to use language to accomplish real-world tasks in a variety of settings, topics, and audiences. language proficiency test provides a verified measurement of this ability. 

For many of our study abroad programs, AFS  includes  the widely recognized ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (AAPPL) test to help measure our participants’ language proficiency and growth. This is a computer-based assessment that is supervised by a parent and taken at home at the culmination of an applicable AFS study abroad experience. Each participant will be expected to complete this assessment within 45 calendar days of their return using the login and verification code provided by AFS.  

When students complete their language assessment, they receive a score report which shows and explains the proficiency levels demonstrated by the participants in each area of communication (interpersonal listening and speaking, presentational writing, and interpretive listening and reading). This report can be provided to the local school, future university or employer to demonstrate their language skills after their AFS program. It will be up to the receiving schools and employers to determine if these language skills merit granting credit, placement or recognition at their individual organization.  

How does language proficiency testing benefit me?

Although language may seem like an obvious skill gleaned while on an AFS program, a language proficiency test allows participants, parents, teachers and local volunteers to be amazed at just how much language a participant learned while abroad and recognize the areas in which the participant excels within that languageThe score report and certificate could be used to do the following: 

  • Qualify for the Seal of Biliteracy* 
  • Earn credit for language study at their local high school* 
  • Share with potential employers & college recruiters 
  • Document on resume verified language skills 
  • Understand exactly what skills one would need to improve upon to reach the next level 

*if local regulations and policies permit and support these programs 

Our language testing organization and their partner, the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), announced the findings of its survey that calls attention to the serious world language skills gap in the U.S. workforce. The report, “Making Languages Our Business: Addressing Foreign Language Demand Among U.S. Employers,” shows the critical demand in the U.S. economy for educated multilingual employees, providing the most comprehensive look at the value of world languages to date.   

Some Key Findings:  

  • 9 out of 10 U.S. employers rely on college graduates with language skills other than English. 
  • 56% say their language skill demand will increase in the next 5 years. 
  • 47% state a need for language skills exclusively for the domestic market. 
  • 1 in 3 language-dependent U.S. employers report a language skills gap. 
  • 1 in 4 U.S. employers lost business due to a lack of language skills.  

What is expected of me before/during/after my AFS program?

Before: Only participants with previous experience in the language that will be spoken in the country of their program require a pre-assessment before departure.  

During: All participants are highly encouraged to fully engage in speaking the local language with their host family, classmates and local community members to improve their language comprehension and capacity. The more a participant opts to use the local language, the better the result will be when asked to show proficiency in various real-life situations.  

After: All participants from the participating programs will be asked to complete the ACTFL Assessment of Performance toward Proficiency in Languages (an AAPPL assessment) within 45 days of returning home from their program. The assessment can be completed from a computer at home while a student’s parent serves as the proctor of the assessment. The exam will take approximately 2-2.5 hours to complete and the student will need a reliable internet connection and quiet testing environment to fully focus on the tasks built into the assessment. A testing login and code will be provided to their participants upon their return to the US, along with a brief and helpful guidebook for the parent proctorThe score reports will be emailed to the participant once received by AFS-USA 

Frequently Asked Questions

  • If you are selected to take a preassessment because you have previous experience with the language being spoken on your program, you will take the assessment within 60-90 days of your planned departure.  
  • After you have completed your AFS program, you will be asked to complete your assessment within 45 days of returning home. The sooner you take the assessment after your return, the sharper your language skills are.  

For additional frequently asked questions, please visit this resource from the implementors of the AAPPL assessments. If you can’t find the answer to a question that you have, please reach out to us at [email protected]