When making steps toward proficiency-oriented classrooms, authentic material is used as much as possible, and students are encouraged to interact with each other and express their own ideas beyond the book lesson. In addition, students need to transfer their ESL skills to their academic subjects or careers.

A study done in 2012 at Arizona State University indicates that this process may not always occur. In other words, it appears that being involved as a student in an L2 classroom does not automatically lead to motivation to transfer L2 beyond that classroom.

Goals: The goal of the proficiency movement is to have the learners create with language rather than learn and repeat materials. Learners do more than just know about the language or recite lists. They are trained to use their skills outside of the classroom in a variety of situations and contexts. The movement is changing materials goals and approaches to teaching.

The following definition sums up what is meant by proficiency orientation: "A proficiency orientation, which emphasizes behavioral manifestations of an underlying communicative competence in situations of authentic use, must naturally stress the speaker's ability to apply appropriately the rules of language use.

Content-area instruction: By teaching ESL through content-area materials, the instructor can help students make this transfer to a higher level of proficiency. Learners focus on the topic and concurrently acquire English while using it in a realistic scenario.

A social studies or civics text or reading passage can be used as a starting point for language activities for ESL learners. The important thing is to expose them to as much language at their level as possible and to give them the opportunity to at least master some of the main points. Students learn other disciplines through English.

For example, in a civics lesson on "The English Settle America" from "America's Story, Book 1," the students can read a chart:

Grammar: In content-area teaching, grammar is essential for full communication and can be embedded in the content. Poor grammar interferes with communication more than poor pronunciation:

"We found that people who speak English as a second language were more likely to be judged as easy to understand when they spoke with fluency, regardless of the accuracy of their pronunciation," said Alexander L. Francis, an associate professor of speech, language and hearing science at Purdue University.

Thus, proficiency may be more connected to fluency than pronunciation. Grammar instruction should be a part of proficiency-based content area instruction. In the example above, "wh-" questions, dates and past tense are included.