Initial selection of the level the students are at could take place by asking them to read the situations described below and making them recognize, in which situation they fit best in, by answering the following questions (each situation requires mostly positive answers in order to be considered appropriate):
Situation 1) Can you understand familiar words and very basic sentences only? Can you read familiar names, words and very simple sentences only? Can you interact in a simple way only? Are you only able to use simple phrases and sentences to describe the place where you live and the people you know? Are you only able to write short, simple postcards or notes?
Situation 2) Can you understand phrases and the most used words related to areas of personal importance? Are you able to read very short, simple texts? Are you able to communicate in simple and routine tasks requiring a simple and direct exchange of information on familiar topics and activities? Are you able to use a series of sentences to describe in simple terms your family and other people? Can you write short, simple notes and messages?
Situation 3) Are you able to understand the main points of clear standard speech on familiar matters regularly encountered in work, school, leisure, etc.? Are you able to understand texts that consist mainly of everyday or job-related language? Do you believe you can deal with most situations likely to arise whilst travelling in an area where the language is spoken? Are you able to connect phrases in a simple way in order to describe experiences and events, your dreams, hopes and ambitions? Are you able to write a simple connected text on topics which are familiar or of personal interest to you?
Situation 4) Are you able to understand extended speech and lectures and follow even complex lines of argument provided the topic is sufficiently familiar? Are you able to read articles and reports concerned with contemporary problems, in which the writers adopt particular attitudes or viewpoints? Do you believe that you can communicate with a degree of fluency and spontaneity that makes regular interaction with native speakers quite possible? Are you able to present clear, detailed descriptions on a variety of subjects related to your field of interest? Are you able to write a clear, detailed text on a wide range of subjects related to you interests?
Situation 5) Do you believe that you can understand extended speeches even if they are not clearly structured and when relationships are only implied and not signaled explicitly? Are you able to perfectly understand long and complex factual and literary texts, appreciating different languages styles? Do you believe that you can express yourself fluently and spontaneously without obvious searching for expressions? Are you able to present clear, detailed descriptions of complex subjects and draw logical and systematic conclusions? Are you able to express yourself in a clear, well-structured text, expressing points of view at some length? Do you believe that you can teach someone else the language and the grammar?
After finding their place in one of the situations above, you could ask the students to do a more detailed self-assessment by using online resources (e.g. the VINTAGE project in the link) or you could do the assessment via your regular, formal assessment procedures.
It is always useful to do an assessment on the entry level and at the end – on the exit level.