What is the Channel Capacity test?

Birdwell has been using the Channel Capacity for more than 30 years... and yet the test still surprises people by virtue of its simplicity.

The test is based on an interesting but little known phenomenon: your ability to store unrelated information in your short-term memory.

Your ability to decode and then re-encode a message in a foreign language is tested and measured in record time to give a visible and meaningful result.

Can this test be done by anyone?

Of course! Whatever your level, we use this tool to measure your progress in speaking and understanding in the language of your choice. The main objective is to improve your performance!

How does the test work?

Unlike conventional listening comprehension tests that take much longer to administer, 5 to 10 minutes are enough to perform the Channel Capacity test, by telephone or face-to-face. Doing the the test phone means that you can stay operational wherever you are!

During the test, a native language examiner reads aloud a number of sentences of increasing length. You are asked to repeat each sentence as accurately as possible.

What are the criteria for analysing the test?

The examiner counts the number of words you have repeated correctly and then converts them into a level in Normalized Hours (NH). This level reflects your ability to decode / re-encode information (see table below).

The Normalized Hours scale measures your level relative to that of an imaginary student who has been learning for a number of hours in ideal conditions. For example, if you get a score of 200 NH, this means that the reference student would have taken 200 hours in ideal conditions to achieve the same level.

How quickly do I get my result?

Your result is given immediately after the test. You can then consult with an academic advisor to arrange a suitable language course.

HN scale

0 NH: Beginner: no experience of the language.

50 NH: Survival: the subject is able to introduce him/herself, ask for directions, buy a simple item, book a hotel room, count, ask the time, etc.., but is not able to converse.

150 NH: Social minimum : simple conversations are possible but can be rather tedious because the subject is very hesitant and often asks the person he/she is speaking to to repeat or rephrase what has been said.

250 NH: Social autonomy: in simple conversations, the subject speaks and understands without difficulty. He may, however, get lost if the conversation takes an unexpected turn, or if several people are talking at the same time. This level is sufficient for positions in which the context is familiar and repetitive.

400 NH: Professional minimum: the subject is able to perform in the target language most tasks that he/she can perform in their native language. The precision and richness of expression of the native are still lacking.

1000 NH: Native speaker