For more than a decade now, proficiency has been highly advocated by foreign language professionals at all levels as the organizing principle around which to design instruction. 6 The word proficiency has been used for years as equivalent to good, fluent, and competent, yet it is the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 7 that have helped provide an operational definition for this term and a construct to examine and assess the performance of FL learners:
Proficiency is not defined as a series of discrete-point equidistant steps or as a system with broad leaps and underlying gaps. Rather, as a representation of communicative growth, the levels describe a hierarchical sequence of performance ranges. (Galloway, 1987, p. 27)
The proficiency-oriented approach has been adopted by most school systems across the nation. It is now understood what proficiency is and what proficiency-oriented instruction represents. Proficiency is the outcome of language learning, and proficiency-oriented instruction is not a method, it does not represent a fixed set of materials; it constitutes a basic principle upon which organization is based in FL classrooms in order to help students read, write, listen, and speak effectively in a target language as well as to learn about and understand the cultures of such language (James, 1985; Spada, 1986).
Also, being proficient in a second/foreign language (L2/FL) indicates being able to participate in different contexts and perform different functions using the target language with accuracy. The trisection context/