The University of Texas at Austin
The College of Liberal Arts

Spanish Corpus Proficiency Level Training

About the Website

Website features include:

  • High quality video files of learners of different levels of proficiency in dialogues answering a given set of questions
  • Interactive exercises to engage viewers in the analysis of the data
  • A breakdown of questions by function with answers that allow the viewers to check their answers to learn more about each learner's discourse
  • Review exercises that allow viewers to summarize their findings for individual questions, leading them to a generalized evaluation of the learners' level of proficiency based on several responses
  • Learner discourse requiring more advanced skills (e.g., stating and supporting an opinion, past-time narration, hypothesizing)
  • A suppressible transcript that reflects what each learner says in each video clip

About the proficiency ratings:

  • The proficiency ratings on this website have been verified by a certified ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) rater.
  • Our website is not intended to train users to be raters according to the ACTFL proficiency guidelines. Also, our proficiency ratings differ from those used by ACTFL (we use 5 levels when ACTFL uses 10). The site is aimed at familiarizing the user with an approximation of proficiency levels.
  • For more information about ACTFL and other resources related to foreign language proficiency, please refer to our links section.

Heritage Learners

The corpus currently includes 16 heritage language learners (Nancy, Cindy, Amy, Mason, Grace, Heather, Debra, Susie, Tracy, Alexi, Kim, Robert, Sam, John, Karen, Rachel).

Suggestions for How to Use this Website

This site is useful for:

  • Teacher candidates
  • Teachers
  • Researchers
  • Learners of Spanish
  • Linguistics students

The corpus may be used for:

  • Classroom assignments
  • Research purposes
  • Practice correcting learner errors
  • Self-improvement of Spanish grammar, vocabulary, fluency or conversation management

This site can be used at the undergraduate and graduate level in:

  • Spanish second language acquisition courses
  • Spanish applied language courses
  • Spanish teacher training courses

Users may focus on and instructors may assign students to work with:

  • A single learner:
    • See how the apparent proficiency level is affected by the topic.
    • See how a learner's grammar, vocabulary, fluency, and conversation management skills may not unanimously place the learner into the same proficiency level.
  • A single topic:
    • See how various learners talk about the same topic.
    • Compare various learners' language features when talking about the same topic.

    User's Guide

    Training – becoming familiar with the website and the proficiency level ratings

    1. Click on the tab called proficiency levels: practice and review the five different proficiency level descriptions, which include Beginner, Beginner-Intermediate, Intermediate, Intermediate-Advanced, and Advanced.
    2. Next click below the boxes where it says Open for sample activities. You will then be at the what is proficiency tab. Read the text on foreign language proficiency, which explains the different aspects that help determine a learner’s proficiency, as well as those aspects that will be focused on in the video activities of this website. Then click on the play button on the black box to watch the sample video, and then answer the three questions at the bottom of the page.
    3. Next click on the other four tabs: vocabulary, grammar, conversation management and generalizations, and answer the corresponding training questions so that you are prepared to answer questions on these topics when watching other videos.

    Video Activity – using the website to rate learners’ proficiency levels

    1. Click on the video activity tab, and you will find a list of learners and a list of topics that they discussed with the interviewer. Some of the topics were easier than others in terms of the language that was required to talk about them, and also in terms of language functions, which allows you to see a wide range in the learner’s language skills.
    2. Next select a learner and a topic, and a video will load on the right side of the page. Click on the play button to watch the video.
    3. If you wish to see the transcript for the video, below the video box you may click on the text that says Transcript, which will open up a text box with the transcript for that video. You may click on the x on the top right hand corner of the box to suppress the transcript so that you can concentrate on how the learner communicates and uses linguistic and non-linguistic resources. The transcripts contain some elements of Conversation Analysis. The following is some of the notation you might find:
      (.) pause
      : elongation
      [ overlapping speech
    4. Below the video box there are six tabs: the ones called grammar accuracy, vocabulary, fluency, conversation management and generalizations contain questions about these topics for the video you just watched. Click on each tab, answer the questions, and then hit the Score button on the bottom of the page. Please be aware that answers may vary according to subjective evaluations. There may also be more than one correct answer to a given question. If you wish to try again, click on the Try again button at the bottom of the page, which will erase the previous answers and allow you to start over.
    5. Before clicking on the evaluate tab, we suggest watching several videos of a given learner answering questions on different topics, in order to get a good sample of the learner’s proficiency level. When you are ready to try to evaluate the learner’s proficiency level, click on the evaluate tab. There you will find five boxes with the proficiency levels and their descriptions. Click on the box that you think corresponds with the learner you are evaluating. If your judgment does not agree with the website’s raters, a red asterisk will appear.
    6. Repeat this process with as many learners and topics as you wish.

    Sample Activities

    The following are two sample activities that were created based on the materials on the website. The first, Developing Oral Proficiency in the Classroom, is targeted toward helping learners of a second language develop competence in expressing anecdotes, which also entails appropriate use of the preterit and imperfect aspects. The second, Analyzing Preterit and Imperfect Distinction in Anecdotal Narratives, is aimed at helping L2 teachers distinguish between background and foreground information given in anecdotes.

    Sample Activity 1: Developing Oral Proficiency in the Classroom

    Sample Activity 2: Analyzing Preterit and Imperfect Distinction in Anecdotal Narrative

    Publications Reference

    The SPT site is the result of collaboration between Professor Dale Koike and graduate students Lori Czerwionka, Cory Lyle, Jocelly Meiners, Karyn Rayburn, Robert Sauveur and Memoria James of the Department of Spanish and Portuguese, funded by grants from Liberal Arts ITS 2006-07 and The Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL) from 2010-2011.

    Researchers using this database are asked to acknowledge both the University of Texas at Austin Liberal Arts Instructional Technology Center for this website ( and Professor Dale Koike as the Principal Investigator of the site in any publication arising from their work.


    We would like to thank Professor Judy Liskin-Gasparro (certified ACTFL rater) for her help in verifying our proficiency ratings, Lori Czerwionka and Memoria James for their help in earlier stages of the project, and Carl Blyth for his continued support of the site. We also thank Rachael Gilg for her support and technological expertise. Most of all, we thank the students who volunteered their time and presence in the tapings.