Preparing students for English comprehension testing promotes career development

October 4, 2023

Emile Van Heerden

The Lana Learn team in Vietnam takes on a holistic approach in preparing students for English comprehension testing.

The Lana Learn English Language Training (ELT) program in Vietnam is nearing the end of its second cohort of students. We are administering the American Language Course Placement Test (ALCPT) at the end of October as the course’s final exam. As educators specializing in language training, our mission at Unit 871 is to support our students in their career development goals. One of the ways our instructors do this is by giving students the tools they need to perform well on the ALCPT. Preparing students for English comprehension testing involves both academic and mental guidance. Read on to find out more about the ALCPT and the methods we use to set our students up for success.

What is the ALCPT?

The ALCPT is a test developed by the Defense Language Institute English Language Center (DLIELC). It measures the English language proficiency of foreign military and US government-sponsored ELT programs around the world. The ALCPT assesses English comprehension through listening and reading sections and consists of 100 multiple-choice questions. The test is administered by our Lana Learn team here in Hanoi and we use it for placement, evaluation, and screening purposes. 

The ALCPT is an important tool for ELT instructors because it allows us to screen students for readiness to take the English Comprehension Level (ECL) test. If our students score high enough on the ECL, they are then deemed eligible to attend follow-on training programs in the United States. Lana Learn’s steady-state program at Unit 871 is part of a collaborative effort between the Vietnamese Ministry of Defense and the United States Government. Our collective goal is that 30% of the Vietnamese Armed Forces should be able to converse in English by 2030.

ALCPT Handbook

In addition to the DLIELC training materials, the Lana Learn instructors have been utilizing the ALCPT Handbook as an internal resource throughout this program. The handbook provides information about the test description, administration, scoring, and security. We use the handbook as a informative guide to familiarize students with test structure and expectations. A clear understanding of the test is the first step in mentally preparing the students for the ALCPT.

Authentic Materials

The best way to improve students’ listening and reading skills is to expose them to a variety of authentic texts and audio sources. Our main focus is always the ALC program material which is designed to help teach English to foreign military personnel. However, we supplement the course materials with news articles, podcasts, radio programs, speeches, lectures, interviews, etc. These materials cover topics such as culture, history, science, technology, and sports, and give students the opportunity to apply course content to real-world scenarios.

ALC Content

When it comes to teaching vocabulary and grammar, our focus is always the ALC curriculum material. The content is commonly used in academic and professional contexts. However, one of our favorite strategies is to expose our students to interactive classroom activities. These create a relaxed environment for students to practice recalling the vocabulary and grammar learned in class. We regularly review vocabulary with Quizizz, which is an online content application that makes it easy for students to review course content.

Test-Taking Strategies

The ALCPT is a timed test that requires your students to answer 100 questions in 50 minutes. This means that they need to work quickly and efficiently, without losing focus or accuracy. We help our students develop effective test-taking strategies by teaching them how to: 

  • Skim and scan texts for main ideas and key details.
  • Predict answers based on context clues and prior knowledge. 
  • Eliminate wrong or distracting options. 
  • Guess intelligently when unsure. 
  • Check answers for mistakes or omissions. 

Confidence Building

The ALCPT is a high-stakes test that can affect students’ future opportunities. Therefore, it is natural for them to feel nervous or anxious before or during the test. Some students are natural test takers and others buckle under the pressure. A few words of encouragement, support, and a clear path of their goals help our students understand the task at hand and help them to deal with these emotions. Prior to the test, it’s important to have students visualize test day. We help students organize their last few hours of review and assist them in de-stressing by practicing organizational skills.  

By following these methods, we take on a holistic approach to helping our students prepare for the ALCPT. The ALCPT is not only a test of language skills but also a test of motivation, perseverance, and resilience. As educators, we strive to inspire our students to overcome any challenges they may face and succeed in their endeavors.  

Scroll to Top