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How to Score Higher on an Oral Proficiency Test

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How to Score Higher on an Oral Proficiency Test

Noah's photo
·Jan 13, 2022·

3 min read

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What is the Oral Proficiency Interview?

The ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) is a valid and reliable testing method that measures how well a person speaks a language. It uses a standardized procedure for the global assessment of functional speaking ability, i.e., it measures language production holistically by determining patterns of strengths and weaknesses. The ACTFL OPI is interactive and adaptive, adjusting to the interests, experiences, and the linguistic abilities of the test takers. Through a series of personalized questions, a sample of speech is elicited and rated according to the proficiency levels described in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Speaking. The ACTFL OPI assesses the Interpersonal mode of communication (two-way communication) as described in the Standards for Foreign Language Learning.

The OPI assesses language proficiency in terms of a speaker’s ability to use the language effectively and appropriately in real-life situations. It does not address when, where, why, or the way in which a speaker has acquired his/her language. The OPI is not an achievement test assessing a speaker’s acquisition of specific aspects of course and curriculum content, nor is it tied to any specific method of instruction. The OPI does not compare one individual’s performance to others, but each individual performance to the assessment criteria.

What is the Oral Proficiency Interview Computer?

The success of the ACTFL OPI has resulted in increased worldwide demand for valid and reliable testing of oral language proficiency. More and more schools and universities use the interview as an instrument of assessment. Growing numbers of commercial enterprises, international organizations, and government agencies recognize the usefulness of the OPI as a reliable tool to determine the linguistic functional capabilities of their personnel.

The Oral Proficiency Interview-computer (OPIc) was developed as a computerized tool to deliver and score valid and reliable oral proficiency testing on a large scale. The computer-delivered assessment emulates the qualities of the OPI, but handles the delivery of the questions by a carefully designed computer program. The goal of the instrument is the same as the OPI: to obtain a ratable sample of speech which a rater can evaluate and compare to the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 – Speaking in order to assign a rating. The current version of the OPIc measures oral proficiency up to the Superior level on the ACTFL scale.

How is it scored?

The OPI/OPIc tests both use the The 2012 ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines for "Speaking." They are descriptions of what individuals can do with language in terms of speaking, writing, listening, and reading in real-world situations in a spontaneous and non-rehearsed context. The highest obtainable score on the OPIc is Superior.

For each skill, these guidelines identify five major levels of proficiency:

Distinguished, Superior, Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice.

Levels Advanced, Intermediate, and Novice are each subdivided into High, Mid, and Low sub-levels. For example, you could score an "Intermediate-Low" or "Advanced-Low"

By the Rhode Island Foreign Language Association

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