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Cohort Tips: Enrolling in the Appropriate Level Posted by on Jul 23, 2019 in For Learners, For Program Managers, New in CL-150 Cohorts

Enhancing or even just maintaining language proficiency can be challenging, but it should never be boring. CL-150 Cohorts provide subscribers with a weekly two-hour language “workout” based on current events in the target language, at target proficiency level. But what level Cohort is right for you?

How do Cohort lessons differ by level?

Before you can choose the right Cohort for your level and goals, it helps to know how Cohort lessons differ, level by level. As we write this, CL-150 Cohorts are available at ILR levels 2, 2+ and 3.

Lesson Source

While all lessons are based on authentic sources relating to culture, economy, society, politics, or other professional domains, the type of source will vary depending on level.

At the ILR 2 level, lesson texts are sourced from news briefs on straightforward topics like natural disaster reporting, election result reporting, and other sources that tend to be explicit, fact-based, and non-technical. At the ILR 3 level, texts will be pulled from speeches, interviews, editorials, literature, and other sources that include opinion, contradiction, and other implicit information. Lessons at the ILR 2+ level fall somewhere in the middle, such as a detailed news report that includes opinions in the form of quotes.

Lesson Vocabulary

Along with the source text, another core differentiator between levels is vocabulary selection. At all levels, learners will encounter the vocabulary in context, then interact and actively produce the language through listening, speaking, reading, and typing activities. But the type of vocabulary encountered will differ by level.

At the ILR 2 level, learners can expect to learn 10-20 vocabulary items—primarily single-word items, collocations, grammar patterns, and short phrases necessary for understanding the text. Vocabulary will be topic specific and often includes secondary or extended meaning senses.

cl-150 cohorts ILR 2 vocabulary

At the ILR 2+ level, learners will be presented with 10-20 vocabulary items, with proportionately more collocations, expressions, and idioms than at lower levels. Words will be slightly lower in frequency, more technical, and include domain-specific terms, words with extended meaning senses, and grammar patterns.

cl-150 cohorts ILR 2+ vocabulary

At the ILR 3 level, learners are challenged to learn 10-20 vocabulary items, with a particular emphasis on longer phrases, expressions, idioms, and complex grammar patterns. At this level, vocab will have extended meaning and connotations and includes assumed insider cultural information. Words will be even lower in frequency and will help learners not only understand the text but also discuss it with peers.

cl-150 cohorts ILR 3 vocabulary

Use of English vs. Target Language

The higher the level of a lesson, the less likely a learner is to run into English in various activities.

For example, at ILR 2 and below, the English translation of the lesson text is provided as an aid for learners. To challenge higher level learners, ILR 2+ and ILR 3 level Cohort lessons do not include the text translation and some may ask learners to provide a translation themselves to uncover weaknesses.

cl-150 cohorts ILR 2 text

The same is true of many learning activities. For example, as of June 2019 all Cohort lessons will include the Slide Show activity to provide supplemental cultural, historical, or biographical information related to the lesson topic. In ILR 2 and 2+ level Cohort lessons, this information may be presented in either English or the target language, depending on the length and complexity of the information provided. At ILR 3, this information is likely to be longer and will always be presented in the target language.

cl-150 cohorts ILR 3 text

Activity Difficulty

As you might expect, activities are configured differently based on lesson level.

For example, listening and reading comprehension questions vary by level. In ILR 2 and 2+ Cohort lessons, learners will encounter 3-5 questions focused on straightforward comprehension such as determining cause and effect. In ILR 3 Cohort lessons, comprehension questions also require learners to identify implied information of the author’s opinions.

cl-150 cohorts ILR level

Similarly, Paragraph Fill in the Blank also becomes more challenging at higher levels. At ILR 2, the blanked-out tiles are likely to be simple one-word items and items taught in the vocab in particular. At ILR 2+ and 3, the tiles will be longer phrases, collocations, grammar patterns, or trickier words that must be understood in context to fill in the right blank.

Which level Cohort is right for me?

Well, that depends on your language, your current proficiency level, and most importantly your career goals.

Continuously enhance proficiency

If you strive to continuously enhance proficiency throughout your career, we recommend enrolling in the Cohort one level ahead of your current proficiency. For example, if you recently tested at ILR 2, enroll in the ILR 2+ Cohort for your language.

Sustain baseline proficiency and eliminate sub-proficiency

If you need to refresh or sustain current proficiency, we recommend enrolling in the Cohort aligned to your level. For example, if you need to sustain ILR 2, enroll in the ILR 2 Cohort for your language.

Still not sure? Read through the lesson objectives provided at the beginning of every lesson. Comparing objectives for lessons of different levels will give you the best idea of what to expect.

cl-150 cohorts objectives

Ready to sustain or enhance your proficiency with weekly Cohort lessons? You can enroll in a Cohort here.

Have questions about Cohorts? Please reach out to us at