What Are Can-Do Statements and How Can They Help You?

Immerse insights:

  • You don’t need a standardized proficiency test to find out what language level you’re at - you can assess yourself using Can-Do Statements
  • Can-Do Statements are statements about what you can do in a language you’re learning, like order food in a restaurant
  • Can-Do Statements also help you figure out what you should focus on learning next to reach your language learning goals

Did you know that one of the best ways to find out your level in a foreign language and set targets for your learning is to assess your own language abilities? You might not be an expert language teacher, but you do know what you’re able to do in the language.

Research has shown language learners can accurately judge their language proficiency and track their progress using statements that describe what they “can do” with the language. For example, if I can describe my job and I can give simple directions to a nearby restaurant, my speaking level at Immerse is low-intermediate.

How do Can-Do Statements help me?

Here are three questions Can-Do Statements help you answer for yourself:

1. What is my language level?

Your language level is determined by the types of tasks you can use the language for. Proficiency scales like the CEFR and ACTFL are constructed around increasingly complex language tasks. Can you introduce yourself? Can you order food in a restaurant? Can you defend your personal views on climate change policies? The more you can do, the higher your level.

Two women ordering food at an outdoor restaurant

2. What language skills should I focus on learning now?

When you’re just starting out to learn a language, you don’t expect to understand a political speech or read a great work of literature right away. You know you need to learn the basics first, like introducing yourself and ordering food in a restaurant. Once you reach an intermediate level, though, you may not be sure what to concentrate on learning next. Can-Do Statements help you identify the skills that you’re ready for.

3. How much progress am I making?

Language learners who make a habit of regularly checking in on their learning with Can-Do Statements are able to see their progress unfold and watch as they progress through proficiency levels.

How should I use Can-Do Statements?

Take charge of your own language learning journey by:

1. Identifying the Immerse level that’s the best fit for you

Check out our article on figuring out which Immerse classes are right for you. Keep in mind, you don’t need to be able to say “yes” to every Can-Do Statement before you try out a lesson at the next level.

A female avatar paying the food she ordered in a virtual reality fast food restaurant.

2. Setting targets for your learning

According to the American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages, helping language learners identify and set learning goals is one of the primary purposes of Can-Do Statements.

3. Checking in on your progress

We encourage you to revisit our Can-Do Statements every month or two. Sometimes progress can feel slow in the moment, but looking back you’ll be surprised just how far you’ve come!

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