marry performance and proficiency

Marry Proficiency and Performance With Task Cards

Here are 3 ways to marry proficiency and performance using task cards in Spanish class! When teaching World Language, it is important to acknowledge the difference between proficiency and performance. Proficiency is a person’s overall ability to understand and be understood in the target language. According to ACTFL, there are 4 main stages (Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Superior), and it can take years and years to move through the Intermediate stage. Performance, on the other hand, indicates a person’s ability to perform very specific tasks in the TL. If you need more information on Performance vs Proficiency, read this blog post!

It’s not easy to marry proficiency and performance, but middle and high school World Language Programs need to focus on both.

Why We Need To Marry Proficiency and Performance

In order to teach a cadre of students a new language in a school setting, most of us have a curriculum that centers on specific themes and grammar points.

When we focus on units, like sports and hobbies with the verb gustar, we are teaching our students to PERFORM. But as we move on to the next unit, how do we make sure that what they have learned previously is not entirely forgotten?

Try using Task Cards! Task cards can be printed or displayed digitally, and they set up a scenario for your students. Personally, I have made task cards related to all kinds of themes, from specific time frames, asking questions, seasons and specific topics. Each of my “decks of cards” have 20 different scenarios so I can either use one each day, or pass them out to students and have students have a different scenario each time!


When using task cards for writing, I usually pass them out. I give them a piece of paper, and 10 minutes. Go! Write as much as you can about this scenario!

While students are writing, they will come across words they want to say but don’t know. The teacher’s job is to circulate the room and provide those new words. Check over their shoulders. If the theme is present time frame, check to see if they are remembering to use that time frame!

Hint: This year, in my Year 3 Spanish classes, we started with preterite and imperfect, and then learned future. It’s really easy for language learners to get stuck in the most recent thing they learned, so recycling things they’ve previously learned is so important!

I usually collect their writing papers. Sometimes I will mark them, but not for a grade. I can pass back the same paper each time we do a free write, and students can see their progress! Perhaps the last one of the cycle is graded??


Another way to marry Proficiency and Performance is to use these SAME task cards for speaking. This year, my district has made one of our goals to help more students pass the AAPPL test for the Seal of Biliteracy. We have noticed that the section that students struggle with the most is the ILS (Integrated Listening and Speaking). Students just are not good about speaking off the cuff about random things. (This is because our curriculum is written for performance! They’re good at speaking about a predictable topic!)

So, this year, I have begun using my task cards as my warm up for each class. Each student has a next door neighbor. I set a 2 minute timer, and Person A talks about the scenario I have displayed on my SmartBoard. When the timer goes off, Person B talks. Sometimes they give each other feedback. Sometimes we just practice. But these scenarios give students a chance to answer an open-ended kind of question. Again, students will encounter words they want to say, and ask how to say them! Practicing this every day has DRAMATICALLY increased my students’ ability to speak off the cuff and to gain comfort and confidence in speaking!

Spend a Whole Class With Task Cards

When trying to marry Proficiency and Performance, the BEST way to move the needle is to provide lots of practice and combine that with feedback. Not only that, but once you have a set of task cards, you have the EASIEST no-prep lesson plan that keeps students engaged the WHOLE CLASS!

Can you tell I’m enthused!!

This activity can be done with speaking or writing, but I’ll describe it with speaking.

Teacher Prep:

-make a set of task cards (or check out the MANY I have in my TpT shop!)

-create a student feedback rubric (or use the ones included in my task card sets!)

-make photocopies of the feedback sheets.

Lesson Plan:

-Pair students. (I have them move their desks right next to each other.)

-Designate all the people on the right the ones that will speak first.

-The speakers pass their feedback sheet to their partner.

-Teacher displays a task card on the SmartBoard. He/She/They set a timer, and give speakers a specific goal. (Ex: 4 sentences, present tense, ellos form, etc.)

-Person A speaks, Person B listens and uses the feedback sheet to make notes. When the timer goes off, Person B gives oral feedback and passes back the feedback paper.

-Now, shift your students. Students on the right move back one seat. Make this easy by creating a movement pattern that students will follow each time. *This step is important. Explain that each listener has a different skill set and therefore will give different feedback.

-Change the Task Card. Change the challenge and/or timer if you wish. The SAME student will speak with their new listener.

-Repeat this process about 5 times, with the same students speaking and a new listener each time. Students will find that their fluency, confidence and vocabulary will really improve!

-Now, switch roles! People on the left will speak, and people on the right will listen. Repeat the process for this group.

The class goes by so fast! All of the students are actively engaged! Speakers get feedback! Listeners practice listening comprehension and may gain ideas for what or how they could address a topic! You don’t have to grade anything!

Resources To Help With Building Proficiency

Spanish Task Cards for Past Tense

Task Cards for Present, Past and Future Spanish Speaking and Writing

Spanish Task Cards The Four Seasons Bundle

Spanish Task Cards: Travel Situations for Speaking or Writing!

Many more themes for task cards in my TpT Store!

Other Blog Posts You May Like

Using Task Cards in Spanish Class

How to Make Simulated Conversation Activities for Spanish Students

The Seal of Biliteracy

marry performance and proficiency