Language proficiency course goals refer to the ACTFL scale. ACTFL is the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, a national organization that provides descriptors of language levels. Below are approximate summaries of those levels.
Novice-low: Students at this level generally cannot express anything very meaningful. They may have fewer than 30 words in their vocabulary and cannot comprehend very much in the language.
Novice-mid: Students at this level communicate minimally, with difficulty, relying primarily on individual words or memorized phrases. They cannot speak consistently in sentences & may resort to repetition or words from their native language with lots of long pauses. They can often cite lists but have difficulty constructing sentences and are unable to ask or answer direct questions on a variety of topics.
Novice-high: Students at this level handle a variety of tasks at the Intermediate level (see below), but are unable to sustain Intermediate performance. They can respond to simple, direct questions and can ask a few formulaic questions when asked to do so. They express personal meaning by relying heavily on learned expressions, short or incomplete sentences, but are unable to consistently maintain sentences.
Intermediate-low: Students at this level maintain sentences consistently, even though most sentences will be very simplistic; they can create with the language to express personal meaning as well as ask and answer simple questions. They handle simple situations or transactions and converse minimally about topics of a personal nature (family, self, school, work, leisure, activities, daily activities, likes & dislikes).
Intermediate-mid: Students at this level maintain sentences consistently, and sentences will begin to be more complex; they can create with the language to express personal meaning as well as ask and answer questions. They handle simple situations or transactions and converse well about topics of a personal nature (family, self, school, work, leisure, activities, daily activities, likes & dislikes).
Intermediate-high: Students at this level maintain sentences consistently, and sometimes construct them into paragraphs but without sustaining them. They can narrate and recount events. They handle situations & transactions that may include a complication and converse about topics beyond a personal nature (the environment, social dilemmas, public life, etc.) They can formulate and respond to most questions. They demonstrate partial or unsustained control of different timeframes.
Advanced-low: Students at this level keep speaking and writing at paragraph length while moving beyond topics of personal interest to broad or global interest. They can formulate and respond to questions on demand. They demonstrate adequate control of all timeframes.