Assessing multilingual people

The standardised assessment tools commonly used with English (L1) speaking learners are not valid when we work with people who use English as an additional language. The results of these tests will probably be misleading and unhelpful, as well as quite demoralising for the person concerned, so it is better to avoid them. Instead, the two CAML suites are designed specifically for use with multilingual learners.

CAML Plus

Cognitive Assessments for Multilingual Learners PLUS: CAML+ is the assessment tool designed for use with adult learners of English (aged 16 and above).

Buy CAML+ from the ELT well shop.

CANL YL

Cognitive Assessments for Multilingual Learners – young learners: CAML-yl has been developed specifically for learners between the ages of 7 and 15.

Buy CAML-YL from the ELT well shop.


**The online self-study course ‘Assessing Multilingual Learners‘ is now accredited by SASC (5 hours).**
Find out more and enrol here.

CAML assessment

The CAML suites take English out of the equation, and generate a comprehensive cognitive profile for multilingual people. From this, appropriate interventions can be devised, and exam arrangements applied for. They allow us to explore:

  • the development of literacy practices
    (e.g. see the ‘scanning task‘ here)
  • short term and working memory (both auditory and visual)
  • speed of processing
  • phonological processing

All of these performances must be interpreted in the light of the detailed background information gathered in the first step of the assessment process (which is the same as when we assess English (L1) speakers).
This starts with observation, using an observation schedule to make it more systematic. Then questionnaires can be used to gather more information, before we sit down and have a chat with the person (a ‘screening conversation‘).

Key features of the CAML suites include:

  • Engaging tasks that people of all ages enjoy completing;
  • Full instructions (including videos) of how to use the tasks and interpret the findings;
  • Assessment material available to download from the website, as often as required;
  • Coverage of SpLDs apart from dyslexia, with more information about how they can manifest and affect learning;
  • Some tasks suitable for small group assessment, as well as 1:1;
  • Advice on how to give feedback and explain SpLDs to learners from different cultural backgrounds.