Case Study: Liz


Here is Liz’s placement interview:

What’s your name? Liz.

How old are you? Fifteen.

How long have you studied English?

One year.

Name three things in California that are different from Taiwan.

(No answer.)

At this point the assessor tried to draw her out using other questions:

Do you like America?

A little.

Is Taiwan better?


What do you like to do?

I like eating.

What kind of food?


Do you like basketball?


Do you like music?


Here is Liz’s writing:

My first day in America is very bad. because by very long Tomther I am in Los Angeles. Is very happy and very fun because we are first play We can see shop because we are want shopping I get 3 close I am very very happy We go to play again Disneyland is very good play We can see mosths ribbits bird and dogs Go to this I have more friend I and they is very happy

  • What do you know about Liz based on the information given?
  • What does the relative sophistication of her writing reveal about her proficiency that her speaking does not?
  • How can you account for the difference?
  • What features of her writing give you clues about the level she is operating at?
  • If she enrolled in your school what placement and programmatic decisions would you make?
  • Is Liz operating at grade level for her age?
  • What assumptions can you make about her ability to succeed at the grade-level curriculum based on this sample (her writing and the placement interview)?
  • What kinds of assistance will Liz require?

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