10 Of the Best Second Language Writing Skills Self-Assessments Online

Learning a second language is exciting and fun but the ability to use that language correctly does not develop overnight. It is difficult enough to speak a second language properly; writing it properly is even harder. This is where self-assessments can help.

Second language writing skills self assessments can be found online if you are looking in the right places. Speaking and listening are a main focus of many learners, but when you need to write in a target language, self assessment tools can help you progress. Some are paid and some are free.

As a teacher in the ESL specialty, I know that teacher feedback has long been seen as an effective and necessary tool for student learning. However, more recent studies have shown this can be detrimental if not clear and meaningful. This makes finding appropriate feedback all the more critical in the online world.

Online writing skills self-assessments can help students to understand where their weak points are. They point out constructively what needs more attention in the learning process. Let’s look at ten of these online self-assessments.

10 Of the Best Second Language Writing Skills Self-Assessments Online

Several tools are available today to help second language learners to achieve fluency both in writing and speaking a language other than their native tongue.

Programs Like Rocket Langauges Gives Feedback

Rocket languages not only helps you learn to speak and understand a language through its audio learn tools. It also has writing and reading learning and assessment tools. This site is definitely the go to if you are a beginner in a language and need basic to intermediate help.

The program is designed with the single self learner in mind, so though it may not be suitable for a classroom setting, it will be great for individuals or even families. My family has used it for several languages to up their writing and other skills from the beginner to intermediate stages.

There are many things it teaches in its lessons with quizzes and other tools to help with assessing the beginners level of writing skill.

  • Spelling errors
  • Incorrect grammar
  • Missed punctuation
  • Wrong word usage
  • Subject/verb agreement
  • Tense consistency

You only need to follow the modules to learn a step by step progression and then asses your writing level at each step along the way.

If you are a beginner in the language you are targeting, this could be a great way to get closer to the intermediate level in writing as well as speaking and understanding a language.

Rocket language also has a free trial so you can see the system first hand. They offer many languages including, Spanish, English, Japanese, French, German, Italian, Arabic, Chinese, and many others. Just follow the links here to get started on your free trial today.

LinguaFolio Online Lets You Track Your Progress

LinguaFolio Online encompasses basically any language that is actively spoken in the world today. Designed for middle school students up to adults, these assessments help students track their success in learning a second language.

LinguaFolio Online is adaptable to work with both students and educators so that teachers can set goals for their students or the students can set goals for themselves. 

Five areas of proficiency are measured through these assessments including:

  • Writing
  • Listening
  • Speaking
  • Reading
  • Communication

The cost per student is only $2 per school year. The program is mobile friendly via the LFO to Go app which allows students to upload:

  • Pictures
  • Audio
  • Text messages

These provide proof of how they are using their second language in real life settings. The proof is compiled into a portfolio that teachers can review to determine where they may need to provide additional instruction.

CLB-OSA Helps Canadians With French and English

If you live in Canada, the CLB-OSA assessments can help you evaluate your command of both French and English.

These assessments are free of charge and address all pertinent aspects of using a second language.

The assessments themselves do not offer much hands-on practice; they are rather a set of statements declaring level of proficiency.

They denote which tasks the learner can adequately accomplish.

These seem to be more useful as placement tests. It gives the learner an idea of which level he or she has reached and possible paths forward to reach greater levels of proficiency.

Avant WorldSpeak Gives Comprehensive Evaluation

Avant WorldSpeak has no shortage of languages on which to test oneself. Formulated for 7th graders to adults, WorldSpeak tests students over twenty-six different languages.

First, students are given an aptitude test where they rate themselves based on statements of proficiency. Then they are given four writing assignments.

These assignments are much more comprehensive than anything the other programs offer. The student is given a prompt on what to write, but they must do they actual writing.

There is no fill-in-the-blank or multiple choice. This is probably one of the best tools for evaluating writing skills that is available online today.

The student must actually do the work instead of guessing the correct answer. It forces them to think deeply and creatively.

They must draw on their knowledge of:

  • Grammar
  • Syntax
  • Structure
  • Spelling 
  • Punctuation

There are no cheat sheets. No examples. These assessments help the student to make a fair evaluation of his writing ability in his chosen language.

Avant STAMP Is A Simpler Version Of WorldSpeak

The Avant Standards-based Measure of Proficiency tests are basically the WorldSpeak test simplified for the lower grades.

The format is the same. The student is given two prompts for each section and they must write their answers on their own.

There are no multiple choice answers or even any suggestions. The difference is that the assignments are much simpler.

Students are asked to describe what is depicted in a picture. They must write in complete sentences and they are encouraged to be as detailed and descriptive as they can be.

The downside to these tests is that the number of languages available varies greatly with the target age group. 

For sixth grade or younger, there are about fifteen languages to choose from. The STAMP 4S level has about seventeen languages.

The STAMP 3S for seventh grade or older has tests for only two languages and those two are not even widely used languages.

FIS Combines Instruction With Exercises

A website called esl.fis.edu has a collection of practice assessments for students of English as a second language.

The website purports to belong to the Frankfurt International School. A lesson precedes each practice exercise to teach how it should be done.

The tests are ultra-simplistic, almost no-brainers. They mostly consist of choosing the sentence you believe is correct or finding mistakes in a story.

 They can help to identify a student’s level of understanding in basic grammar rules, but they are far too artificial to provide real insight into a student’s ability to write effectively in English.

Englishtag Assesses Ability

For ESL students, Englishtag is an online assessment of one’s ability to correctly use the English language in writing. 

There are several levels of proficiency testing that range from first grade simplicity to rather more sophisticated placement-like tests.

The format is that of finishing prewritten sentences by selecting the proper word or phrase from a multiple choice list.

The choices are structured so that you need to carefully examine the sentence to be sure your choice is proper for:

  • Context
  • Subject/verb agreement
  • Tense

These tests are an excellent way to improve your command of written English.

LiveWorkSheets Can Help With Writing In A Second Language

How to make interactive worksheets from Liveworksheets.com

For young children learning English as a second language, LiveWorkSheets has downloadable interactive exercises that include writing short descriptions.

They are brightly colored with fascinating pictures which are sure to hold your child’s attention and make practice fun. 

Besides writing, these exercises also test listening and matching skills.

ESL Gold Uses Prompts To help You Write

ESL Gold looks to be a fairly new site that provides a list of prompts to help the student write. There are several types of prompts such as:

  • Hypothetical
  • Description
  • Narration
  • Opinion

It is unclear how the student interacts with the site as there are no options for writing on the site itself. Neither is it clear how you know whether your writing was accurate or not. 

This site appears to be more of a checklist and idea site than a hands-on practice site.

Transparent Language Online Lets You Fill In The Blank

Transparent Language Online offers free online self-assessments in fifteen different languages. These language proficiency tests are meant to evaluate one’s command of a language. 

The format is fill-in-the-blank with multiple choices to complete a pre-written sentence. All the choices are various forms of the same word.

Some add: 

  • Helping verbs
  • Being verbs
  • Prepositions
  • Past tense
  • Singular form
  • Present tense
  • Suffixes
  • Plural form

These assessments can help a student evaluate their understanding of simple forms of speech in a second language. 

However, they are too limited in their scope to be an accurate representation of a student’s actual ability to write comprehensively in that language. As well, these tests are in essence an advertisement for their paid programs. They are a fun surface level resource, but the user should be aware of their intent.

Final Talking Point is that Practice Makes Perfect

The surest way to improve your writing in a second language is to read in the second language. Absorb the sentence structure and how words are used.

And then just write. Expect it to be horrible at first. Keep at it until you feel more confident. Then, if possible, let a native speaker or a teacher read what you’ve written and provide correction.

Jackie Booe

Jackie Booe is a licensed teacher for elementary through high school in 3 states. She is a former adjunct professor at the undergraduate level and certified to teach elementary, secondary English, and English Language Learners. She was a mentor for many education interns, department leader at various levels and organizations, has taught and coordinated professional development for teachers and educators, and professionally tutored in a multitude of subjects.

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