What is the Oral Proficiency Interview or O.P.I.?

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To see the ACTFL descriptors in their entirety, go to: www.actfl.org

The ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview

As the demand for proficiency testing expands in both the academic and professional communities, the ACTFL Certified Testing Program, now in its 20th year, continues to distinguish itself as the nation's most recognized and comprehensive.

About the ACTFL OPI

The ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview, or ACTFL OPI as it is often called, is a standardized procedure for the global assessment of functional speaking ability. It is a face-to-face or telephonic interview between a certified ACTFL tester and an examinee that determines how well a person speaks a language by comparing his or her performance of specific communication tasks with the criteria for each of ten proficiency levels described in the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines-Speaking (Revised 1999) [pdf format]. The ten proficiency levels are:

Superior
Intermediate Mid
Advanced High
Intermediate Low
Advanced Mid
Novice High
Advanced Low
Novice Mid
Intermediate High
Novice Low

Go to the NEW 2012 Interactive website for ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines (reading, speaking, listening, writing) with samples in each skill area and at all levels.

Download thie 1999 written PDF for a complete explanation and descriptors of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines:

Since the ACTFL OPI is an assessment of functional speaking ability, independent of any specific curriculum, it is irrelevant when, where, why and under what conditions the candidate acquired his/her speaking ability in the language.
The ACTFL OPI takes the form of a carefully structured conversation between a trained and certified interviewer and the person whose speaking proficiency is being assessed. The interview is interactive and continuously adapts to the speaking abilities of the individual being tested. The topics that are discussed during the interview are based on the interests and experiences of the test candidate.

Through a series of personalized questions, the interviewer elicits from the test candidate examples of his or her ability to handle the communication tasks specified for each level of proficiency in order to establish a clear 'floor' and 'ceiling' of consistent functional ability. Often candidates are asked to take part in a role-play. This task provides the opportunity for linguistic functions not easily elicited through the conversational format.

Uses of the OPI

The ACTFL OPI is currently used worldwide by academic institutions, government agencies, and private corporations for purposes such as: academic placement, student assessment, program evaluation, professional certification, hiring and promotional qualification. The ACTFL OPI is recognized by the American Council on Education (ACE) for the awarding of college credit.

More than 10,000 OPIs in 37 different languages are conducted through the ACTFL Testing Program. OPI Tesing is currently available in the following languages:
Arabic
Greek
Mandarin
Swedish
Cambodian
Haitian Creole
Norwegian
Tagalog
Cantonese
Hebrew
Polish
Thai
Croatian
Hindi
Portuguese
Turkish
Czech
Hmong
Punjabi
Ukrainian
Dutch
Indonesian
Russian
Urdu
Egyptian
Italian
Serbian
Vietnamese
English
Japanese
Slovak

French
Korean
Spanish

German
Lao
Swahili