English Language Center

Speaking and Writing Rubrics

LAT Speaking Rubric*

LevelText TypeContentAccuracy
  • Fluency
  • Dvelopment
  • Organization
  • Functional Ability with the Language (Abstract vs. Concrete or Self-centric Language)
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar & Verb Tense
  • Communication Strategies
  • Pronunciation
  • Native-like Comprehensibility
7—ready for university courses Exemplified speaking on a paragraph level rather than isolated phrases or strings of sentences. Highly organized argument (transitions, conclusion, etc.). Speaker explains the outline of topic and follows it through.
  • Discusses some topics abstractly (areas of interest or specific field of study)
  • Better with a variety of concrete topics
  • Appropriate use of formal and informal language
  • Appropriate use of a variety in academic and non-academic vocabulary
  • Grammar errors are extremely rare, if they occur at all; wide range of structures in all time frames
  • Able to compensate for deficiencies by use of communicative strategies—paraphrasing, circumlocution, illustration—such that deficiencies are unnoticeable
  • Intonation resembles native-speaker patterns; pronunciation rarely if ever causes comprehension problems
  • Pausing and redundancy resemble native speakers
  • Readily understood by native speakers unaccustomed to non-native speakers
6—ready for University Prep Fairly organized paragraph-like speech with appropriate discourse markers (transitions, conclusion, etc.) Will not be as organized as level 7, but meaning is clear.
  • Can speak comfortably with concrete topics, and discuss a few topics abstractly
  • Uses appropriate register according to prompt (formal or informal)
  • Academic vocabulary often used appropriately
  • Grammar errors are infrequent and do not affect comprehension; no apparent sign of grammatical avoidance
  • Able to speak in all major time frames, but lacks complete control of aspect
  • Often able to successfully use compensation strategies to convey meaning
  • Pausing resembles native patterns, rather than awkward hesitations
  • Easily understood by native speakers unaccustomed to non-native speakers
5—ready for Academic B Simple paragraph length discourse with sustained, though possibly formulaic, discourse markers that help maintain some organization.
  • Able to comfortably handle all uncomplicated tasks relating to routine or daily events and personal interests and experiences
  • Some hesitation may occur when dealing with more complicated tasks
  • Uses a moderate amount of academic vocabulary appropriately
  • Uses a variety of time frames and structures; however, speaker may avoid more complex structures
  • Error patterns may be evident, but errors do not distort meaning
  • Frequent use of compensation strategies with consistent success
  • Pronunciation problems occur, but meaning is still conveyed
  • Exhibits break-down with more advanced tasks—i.e. failure to use circumlocution, significant hesitation, etc.
  • Understood by native speakers unaccustomed to dealing with non-natives, but 1st language is evident
4—ready for Academic A Uses moderate-length sentences with simple transitions to connect ideas. Sentences may be strung together, but may not work together as cohesive paragraphs.
  • Able to handle a variety of uncomplicated tasks with concrete meaning
  • Expresses meaning by creating and/or combining concrete and predictable elements of the language
  • Uses sparse academic vocabulary appropriately
  • Strong command of basic structures; error patterns with complex grammar
  • Frequent use of compensation strategies with varied success
  • Pronunciation has significant errors that hinder comprehension of details, but not necessarily main idea
  • Frequent pauses, reformulations and self-corrections
  • Generally understood by sympathetic speakers accustomed to speaking with non-natives
3—ready for Foundations C Able to express personal meaning by using simple, but complete, sentences they know or hear from native speakers.
  • Able to successfully handle a limited number of uncomplicated tasks
  • Concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for survival/(everyday life without unexpected complications)
  • Uses highly varied general vocabulary
  • Errors are not uncommon and often obscure meaning
  • Limited range of sentence structure
  • Intonation, stress and word pronunciation are problematic and may obscure meaning
  • Characterized by pauses, ineffective reformulations and self-corrections
  • Generally be understood by speakers used to dealing with non-natives, but requires more effort
2—ready for Foundations B Short and sometimes incomplete sentences.
  • Restricted to a few of the predictable topics necessary for survival (basic personal information, basic objects, preferences, and immediate needs)
  • Relies heavily on learned phrases or recombination of phrases and what they hear from interlocutor
  • Limited general vocabulary
  • Attempt to create simple sentences, but errors predominate and distort meaning
  • Avoids using complex/difficult words, phrases or sentences
  • Speaker’s 1st language strongly influences pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax
  • Generally understood by sympathetic speakers used to non-natives with repetition and rephrasing
1—ready for Foundations A Isolated words and memorized phrases.
  • Rely almost solely on formulaic/memorized language
  • Two or three word answers in responding to questions
  • Very limited context for vocabulary
  • Communicate minimally and with difficulty
  • Frequent pausing, recycling their own or interlocutor’s words
  • Resort to repetition, words from their native language, or silence if task is too difficult
  • Understood with great difficulty even by those used to dealing with non-natives
0—ready for Foundations prep Isolated words.
  • No real functional ability
  • Given enough time and familiar cues, may be able to exchange greetings, give their identity and name a number of familiar objects from their immediate environment
  • Cannot participate in true conversational exchange
  • Length of speaking sample may be insufficient to assess accuracy
  • May be unintelligible because of pronunciation
  • Nearly incomprehensible even by those used to dealing with non-natives

ELC Academic Portfolio Writing Rubric**

  4 (entering AA) 5 (entering AB) 6 (entering UP) 7 (University Ready)
Content Cannot write on an Academic topic without relying primarily on personal experience. Topic may not be academic or may be too general. Can identify an Academic topic (current event, world issue, area of study) and write on it without relying solely on personal experience. Topics are formal, though general, and not too narrow. Can identify an Academic topic that has been narrowed to a specific context or purpose and maintain the focus of the narrow topic in writing. Can identify a narrowed Academic topic and while defending their own perspective present it from multiple points of view with holistic analysis.
Paragraph and Essay Organization Students may struggle writing a well-developed paragraph that includes topic sentences, details and commentary or concluding sentences. The purpose for paragraphs is not clearly identifiable. Sentences seem redundant or irrelevant and transitions are used minimally or ineffectively. Essay organization is formulaic and simplistic but should at least have an introduction, conclusion and thesis, though they may be lacking in development and clarity. Students should be able to write well-developed paragraphs with clear topic sentences that are loosely connected into an essay with basic (formulaic) transition words in between paragraphs. The thesis statement shows the topic and controlling idea clearly. Introduction and conclusion paragraphs contain basic summaries and are related. Students should be able to write well-developed paragraphs that provide both detail and commentary to support topic and concluding sentences. In addition, all paragraphs should have a clear connection to the thesis statement and demonstrate more precise use of academic transitions at both the paragraph and sentence level. The thesis statement should state the topic and controlling idea either in stated or implied language. Introduction and conclusion paragraphs should have hooks and endings to engage reader interest. Students should be able to write well-developed paragraphs which seem purposeful, are clearly limited to address one point, are related to the thesis statement, as well as to each other, with smooth flow between ideas. Discourse markers and transitions are used to create cohesion and flow of ideas and there is detail and commentary to support both topic and concluding sentences. The thesis statement is academic and develops the controlling idea clearly, perhaps over two or three sentences. It also provides cohesion to the essay. The introduction provides an appropriate amount of background knowledge on the issue and leads up to the thesis statement and the conclusion reinforces the main points of the paper while offering insight to the reader.
Integration of Sources Use of sources is limited. Writing is based primarily on personal opinion and experience. It is difficult to distinguish sources from author commentary. APA formatting is minimal and incorrect. There may be some unintentional plagiarism. Uses sources sparingly to support opinions and ideas. Sources usually are usually limited in number and lack integration features such as signal phrases and commentary. Sources tend to be general reference sources and encyclopedic entries and students may show a limited understanding of source discrimination. In-text citations are used for facts and ideas on the paragraph level with a minimum of the Author's name. A reference page with APA formatting is included by may contain errors. Uses sources to support claims and main ideas. Writers naturally use summaries, paraphrases and limited quotes with author commentary or signal phrases for integration. Sources tend to come from books, magazines, and expert opinions such as government websites. Students know how to distinguish between reliable and unreliable sources. In-text citations are used correctly for all facts, ideas and quotes with name, year and page number when necessary. A reference page with correct APA formatting for most common sources (books, journals, webpages) is included. Uses sources purposefully to quote, paraphrase or summarize and quotes are limited (short and strong). Author commentary is included for all sources and causes reader to analyze subject differently or more deeply. Only reliable and academically appropriate sources are used. In-text citations are used for the purpose of support and development to the author's argument. Students should be able to use APA formatting correctly in all in-text citations, reference pages and for some general formatting issues.
Features of Academic Writing Students are lacking in features of academic writing and writing seems very informal. Vocabulary is general are simplistic and lacks specific details. Vocabulary and grammar represent oral discourse and sentence structure is often overly simplistic. Use of academic vocabulary and phrasing is minimal. Students should understand what basic features of academic writing are and be able to identify them in sources and sample essays. They should also be able to integrate some features, such as complexity, responsibility, formality, and objectivity on a basic level in their writing. Vocabulary and grammatical structures start to move beyond usage similar to oral discourse, and include general academic vocabulary, though perhaps sometimes awkwardly. Writing is mostly a combination of simple, compound and complex sentences, and while efforts are made to use more advanced grammatical structures, they are still minimal. The verbiage should be clear enough so that the reader understands ideas presented without guessing, though perhaps with extra effort. The essay should integrate academic vocabulary and phrasing on a basic level (5%). Students should understand, identify, and be able to use features of academic writing moderately well. They should be able to integrate at least complexity, responsibility, formality, objectivity, explicitness, and precision in their writing with a fair amount of control. Vocabulary should not reflect oral discourse and generic terms, but comfortably display general academic vocabulary. The writing generally avoids simple sentences alone. More advanced grammatical structures appear frequently, though perhaps sometimes awkwardly, and there is control over frequently used syntactical structures. The verbiage should be clear enough so that the reader readily understands the ideas presented, and a clear effort has been made to use topic vocabulary. The essay should integrate academic vocabulary and phrasing on a moderate level (5-10%). Students should be able to understand, identify and write using all features of formal academic writing (complexity, formality, precision, objectivity, explicitness, accuracy, hedging, responsibility). While there may be some breakdown in using more complicated features like hedging, students make efforts to include them. Vocabulary use reflects an ease of expression and includes frequent use of topic specific vocabulary and descriptors. The writing uses more advanced grammatical structures such as complex & subordinate clauses, conditionals, modals, gerunds, adj./adv./noun clauses, and passive voice with confidence, and frequent structures are used naturally. The verbiage not only allows for clear comprehension, but also reflects precision and detail and can adequately describe complex ideas. Writing is highly fluent and coherent. The essay integrates academic vocabulary and phrasing naturally (10% academic words; 5-10 % specialized vocabulary).
Text-length Writing may be shy of 2-pages and missing references, and unpolished in terms of editing and revising. Writing is a minimum of 2-pages polished writing plus references. Writing is a minimum of 4-pages polished writing plus references. Writing is a minimum of 6-pages polished writing plus references.

* Updated 11 December 2013

**Updated 30 January 2014