Samples of spoken language skills

Benchmarks of spoken language

On this page you will find examples of different levels of spoken language skills, so called “benchmarks”. The benchmarks illustrate the proficiency levels that are used to assess a speaker’s ability to interpret and produce text and to interact. Spoken skills refer to interacting in different situations and with different goals, be it at the checkout in a shop or in a job interview. For many of us, spoken language is our primary mode of self-expression.

These language samples are examples of the level of language proficiency in speech. They can be used to examine, for example, how speakers at different proficiency levels use different communication strategies and employ culturally appropriate forms of communication, such as greetings and idioms.

Purpose of the benchmarks

The purpose of these benchmarks is to help language learners and teachers to understand and harmonise their understanding of spoken language assessment. The examples are accompanied by a description of the criteria used to assess the speakers’ proficiency and a verbal explanation.

Click on the links below for different language benchmarks:

Note: This site works best using Chrome. Internet Explorer does not recognize the table, nor does it allow you to give an estimate of the proficiency level.

Assessing spoken language skills

In Finland, there are two official examinations that take spoken language skills into account. These are the National certificate of language proficiency (“the YKI system”) and the Public administration language examination. Both examinations are are assessed on scales linked to levels A1 to C2 of the Common European Reference Framework (CEFR).

For more information on the different stages of assessment of spoken language, click on the titles of the table below.  

Mediation in interaction

The assessment of spoken skills takes into account mediation, that is, constructive interaction. Knowledge of language structures is of course important, but the aim is that the interaction works and the parties understand each other. This means, assessing the fluency of the discussion as well. This includes ways of promoting consensus. This can mean, for example, explaining an unknown word or using a synonym, and creating an open and space-giving conversation.  
More about concepts.

CEFR levelsCorresponding level on the Evolving language proficiency scales (LOPS 2003 and 2015, 2019, på svenska)National certificate of language proficiency, på svenskaPublic administration language examination
A1 A1.1
1[This level is not assessed in this examination] 
2[This level is not assessed in this examination] 
3Satisfactory knowledge
4Good knowledge
C1C1.15Good knowledge
C2[This level is not assessed in general upper secondary education] 6Excellent knowledge
Language skills assessment conversion table
Benchmarks from around the world linked to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for levels A1 to C2 

Examples of speaking skills at different levels (European reference framework) and languages of the Council of Europe.

Cambridge English and their Youtube provide examples of oral exam and evaluation.

IELTS (The International English Language Testing System)

  • IELTS listening exam videos on landmark performance can be found here (AEhelp)

France Éducation International (CIEP): DVD “Spoken performances illustrating the 6 levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages”

See also

Concepts related to basics of general upper secondary languages

LOPS 2003 scales

Evolving Language Proficiency Scale (GLP2019)