How to Effectively Test Students in Spanish

With the Spanish Language Increasing in Popularity, Schools are Looking for Better Ways to Properly Test Students.


Spanish is the most commonly taught foreign language in the United States with 21 million students learning Spanish as a foreign language and six million students furthering the study of Spanish as a native language. According to a paper by the U.S. Census Bureau, the population of Spanish-speakers is expected to rise between 39 and 43 million by the year 2020 (Ortman, 9). As the second most spoken language in the country, learning is encouraged to keep up with the increase in popularity.

Why is Spanish Growing so Fast?

Spanish is the third most spoken language in the world after Chinese and English. There are currently estimated 437 million native Spanish-speakers in the world. Of that population, 45 million are Hispanic and Latin Americans that consider Spanish to be the first, second, or heritage language (Lyons, 2017).

Spanish is the official language in 21 countries and commonly spoken in 44 countries total. After the United States and Mexico, Spanish is most spoken in Spain and Equatorial Guinea in Central Africa. Additionally, it is the official language of Argentina, Puerto Rico, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Spain, Uruguay, and Venezuela (Lyons, 2017).

The Spanish WebCAPE

In 1992, Dr. Jerry Larson, director of the Humanities Technology and Research Support Center at Brigham Young University, noticed the need for a Spanish language placement test. He spent countless hours interviewing freshmen on their Spanish skills. Each student would require 15 to 30 minutes to interview and evaluate their language proficiency. He decided there must be an easier way.

After much research and development, Dr. Larson and his team developed CAPE–a fully-automated computer-adaptive placement exam. This exam tests the language skills of the student and provides a placement score for the courses offered at the university.

Spanish was the first language developed followed soon by French, German, Russian, ESL, Chinese, and Italian.

In 2002, CAPE evolved to WebCAPE as it migrated to an online platform. Now, the Spanish WebCAPE is the most common language exam still used by institutions today. The development of WebCAPE has since gone through significant involvement and research by professionals with highly experienced Spanish fluency.

Sign Up to Test Your Students Today

Due to such a high need for an accurate placement exam with quick results, WebCAPE offers Spanish as a placement test to evaluate language fluency.

To test your students in this language and appropriately place them into correct language courses, click here. We even offer a free 30-day trial for all new institutions so you can get your students familiar to the program before purchasing.


Lyons, D. (2017, April 19). How Many People Speak Spanish, And Where Is It Spoken? Retrieved from

Ortman, J. M., & Shin H. B. (2011). Language Projections: 2010 to 2020. Population Division U.S. Census Bureau, 9. Retrieved from

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