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SOLOM Informal


SOLOM Informal Assessment

Michael A. DePolis
Grand Canyon University: TSL 537
September 19, 2012

SOLOM Informal Assessment

SOLOM Informal

The Student Oral Language Observation Matrix (SOLOM) was administered with my one
English language learner (ELL). I am using the name John Doe. John is a fifth grade student in
my fifth grade self-contained class. He is Samoan born and arrived in Hawaii at the age of seven.
He no longer remembers much Samoan language, and has had the advantage of English being one
of the official languages of Samoa. He has one kindergarten age sister.
Johns ELL designation is limited English proficient (LEP). He has English as a second
language (ESL) pull-out once per week, and in-class support of a paraprofessional twice per
The SOLOM assessment was conducted during lunch/recess in a relaxed setting directly
following a math lesson on coordinate geometry transformations; reflection, rotation, translation
(flips, turns, and slides). During the lesson, comprehensible input was considered as the previously
stated vocabulary was scaffolding upon the previously used terms flip, turn, and slide. The new
vocabulary, reflection (flip), rotation (turn), and translation (slide), was introduced and practiced.
John was pleased to join the teacher for lunch. During the assessment, he was relaxed,
alert, focused, and cooperative. This is, in part, a contrast to the full class setting where John has
attention and focus difficulties which may be unrelated to his ELL status.
As previously stated, John has lost his Samoan language abilities, and English is one of the
official languages of Samoa. So, not surprisingly, Johns speech patterns, intonations, and accent
approximate that of a native English speaker. Although Johns designated level is LEP, which may
be a result of his limited reading ability, I felt a modification to be necessary with the
administration of the SOLOM. Linguistically speaking, his oral language abilities are much higher.
Summary and Analysis

SOLOM Informal

Peregoy, Boyle, & Cadiero-Kaplan (2008), in their case study example of the SOLOM
assessment, appeared to score the students text example very generously. As a result, I adjusted
my scoring standards when assessing John. At first, where I saw a three and four fours, I now see
as a four and four fives. John has attention and organization deficits which may not be attributable
to his ELL status. However, his curiosity with English language structure is intense. During
language instruction, especially conventions and skills such as context, morphology and
phonology, very often I will pause to address questions of usage brought up by John. His curiosity
about language is high, and has undoubtedly contributed to his continued English acquisition.
Because the SOLOM assessment describes such a wide range of student proficiency, from
non-proficient to fluent, it is a good tool and a welcome addition to the arsenal of tools teachers
may use to track English learners annual progress and oral language goals (Student Oral
Language, n.d.)
The ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines Speaking are a great resource to see how ones
assessment using the SOLOM aligns to a speakers functional competency according to ACTFL.
After administration of the SOLOM, I would place John at the advanced low level of the ACTFL,
adjusting for age and cognitive, academic ability. He can carry on long conversations and is easily
understood by native English speakers unaccustomed to conversation with non-native speakers.
However, when dealing with abstract topics suited to advanced high or superior levels, Johns
abilities to converse would break down into a search for vocabulary and meaning (BreinerSanders, Lowe, Miles, & Swender, 2000).
Johns comprehension score was lowest at a four. At first, a three was seen to be a more
appropriate score, which states that he understands most of what is said at slower than normal
speed. Upon closer examination, a four was seen to be a more appropriate score. A four states
that he understands nearly everything at normal speech. He may need occasional repetition. It is

SOLOM Informal

difficult to make this score definitively. Attention deficit disorder should be ruled out.
As for fluency, it was noted during the assessment that John showed no slow-downs or
discomfort throughout the discourse. John is confident in speaking about his ideas, and has the
sound of a native English speaker. He leaves the impression of having learned English as a first
language. His every day conversations and classroom interactions are fluent and effortless. For
these reasons, a score of five was given for fluency.
John is very curious about learning new vocabulary. Language in general fascinates him.
This is extremely helpful when it comes to language instruction. During our lunch conference,
John readily discussed the previously learned vocabulary of flips, turns, and slides, and how they
are applied to geometry concepts. When it came to the newly introduced terms of reflection,
rotation, and translation, as well as axis on an x y coordinate grid, John needed further
clarification and practice. These terms (excluding axis) are terms that John knows in other
contexts, e.g. reflection in a mirror or similar contexts, rotation as something turning, and
translation as a linguistic translation. Applying these terms to a geometry context needed
reinforcement and repetition, as in a flip would be a reflection, a turn would be a rotation, and a
slide would be a translation. Axis also needed much reinforcement and repetition of the concept.
Since these are new contexts for these words, and since one would expect even native English
speaking fifth grade students to require the same repetition and reinforcement, John was scored a
five for vocabulary.
With regard to pronunciation, John articulates and pronounces words without an accent.
His pronunciation and intonation approximate that of a native speaker. Therefore, a score of five
was given.

SOLOM Informal

Johns grammar, use of syntax and word order, are typical of a native English speaking
fifth grade student. It helps that he is always questioning during class about proper English usage.
John was given a score of five for grammar.
According to state standards, Johns English proficiency level is designated as LEP,
probably due to his reading and writing assessments. Clearly, he is stronger with his oral English
language development.
Instructional Strategies
Since comprehension is seen to be the weakest of the five oral language skills observed
through the SOLOM, an effective instructional strategy for John will be strategic small groupings.
Flexible groups should include a triad of John with two academically strong students when
attempting highly challenging conceptual lessons and activities. Another group should be two
pairs who can come together as a foursome. John can be paired with another Samoan student.
This is a girl who is not an ELL, but weak academically. In this way, they could support each
other in having pride in their common Samoan heritage and culture. The other pair could be
stronger academically and could support John and his partner with concepts and skills.
Another strategy which will be beneficial with John is inclusion of his interests when
planning themed units of study. John has apparent attention deficits. This strategy will provide
added motivation for John to attend better, and he will have pride and improved quality of work
produced in class.
There are nine months of the educational journey still ahead with John. With attention,
effort, and ongoing assessments and adjustments, this student can make great gains and continue
to be a vital part of our class.

SOLOM Informal

Breiner-Sanders, K. E., Lowe, Jr., P., Miles, J., & Swender, E. (2000). ACTFL proficiency
guidelines-speaking revised 1999. Foreign Language Annals, 33(1), 13-18.
Peregoy, S. F., Boyle, O. F., & Cadiero-Kaplan, K. (2008). Reading, writing, and learning in
ESL: A resource book for teaching k-12 English learners (5th ed.). Pearson Education,
Student Oral Language Observation Matrix (SOLOM). (n.d.). Retrieved September 19, 2012,

SOLOM Informal

Field Notes
John (not his real name) was observed during a geometry math lesson on transformations
using an x y coordinate grid. John worked with a partner, his math buddy. It was noted that his
partner continuously had to redirect John to the tasks at hand. John appears to have an attention
deficit, possibly unrelated to his ELL status.
John is an immigrant to Hawaii from Samoa, and has been in American school since the
age of seven. English is one of Samoas official languages, so Johns speaking skills approximate
those of native speakers.

SOLOM Informal

It is noted that John likes to readily join in conversations during all lessons in language and
in content areas. He asks good questions.
When group or independent tasks are assigned, John appears to not know what is being
asked of him. As far as I can tell, this is not due to a lack of English acquisition, rather an
attention deficit.
Directly after the lesson is lunchtime. John is invited to conference with the teacher, and he
happily agrees to join me for lunch. During lunch, and recess time after, we have a discussion of
the math lesson. John speaks clearly in a native-like fashion, and he conveys with understanding
all of the relevant components of the lesson. Some repetition is necessary for comprehension. His
fluency, vocabulary, pronunciation, and grammar approximate that of native English speaking
students. It is understandable that the newly introduced vocabulary, in the context of geometry,
needs repetition and reinforcement, as it would for all the fifth grade students.

SOLOM Teacher Observation Student Oral Language

Observation Matrix
John Doe

Student's Name:


A. Comprehension

Cannot be said to
understand even simple


Administered By (signature): Mich


Has great difficulty

following what is said.
Can comprehend only
social conversation
spoken slowly and with
frequent repetitions.

Understands most of
what is said at slowerthan-normal speed with

Understands nearly
everything at normal
speech. Although
occasional repetition
may be necessary.

SOLOM Informal
B. Fluency

C. Vocabulary

D. Pronunciation

Speech so halting and

fragmentary as to make
conversation virtually

Usually hesitant: often

forced into silence by
language limitations.

Vocabulary limitations so
extreme as to make
conversation virtually
Pronunciation problems
so severe as to make
speech virtually

E. Grammar
Errors in grammar and
word order so severe as
to make speech virtually

Speech in everyday
conversation and
classroom discussion
frequently disrupted by
the student's search for
the correct manner of

Speech in everyday
conversation and
classroom discussions
generally fluent, with
occasional lapses while
the student searches for
the correct manner of

Misuse of words and

very limited:
comprehension quite

Student frequently uses

wrong words:
conversation somewhat
limited because of
inadequate vocabulary.

Student occasionally
uses inappropriate terms
and/or must rephrase
ideas because of lexical

Very hard to understand

because of
pronunciation problems.
Must frequently repeat
in order to make
him/herself understood.

Pronunciation problems
concentration on the
part of the listener and
occasionally lead to

Always intelligible,
although the listener is
conscious of a definite
accent and occasional
inappropriate intonation

Grammar and word

order errors make
comprehension difficult.
Must often rephrase
and/or restrict
him/herself to basic

Makes frequent errors of

grammar and word
order that occasionally
obscure meaning.

Occasionally makes
grammatical and/or
word order errors that
do not obscure meaning.