French language teaching candidates must demonstrate Advanced Low proficiency to be recommended for licensure.
The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) describes the proficiency levels using guidelines and samples including videos of speakers performing at different levels. For more information about why Intermediate High proficiency is required, view the frequently asked questions below.
When should I take the proficiency test?
You will need to take the exam upon acceptance into the licensure program. Review the information below, and meet with your advisor before taking the exam.
There are two oral proficiency exam options, the OPI, which is a telephone interview, or the OPIc, a simulated interview via computer.
The following websites have more information about both of the tests.
Once you are ready to take your OPI or OPIc please email firstname.lastname@example.org, who will serve as proctor for the exam. Agree on a date and time for your exam, and then sign up for your exam, following these instructions:
- Navigate to Language Testing International.
- Select your language (French).
- Click on "Search for your institution or school program" in the top right of the page.
- When asked if you are testing for State Teacher Certification, click "Yes".
- Select "Colorado" for the state, enter "University of Colorado - Boulder" for the institution, and select "French" for the language.
- Select the ACTFL OPI or ACTFL OPIc.
- For the proctor, select "University of Colorado Boulder".
- Select "Mountain Time" in the Time Zone box then enter two dates and time ranges when you are available to take the exam. These dates will be used to assign a tester to you for the OPI.
- Complete the remaining questions with your personal information.
What do I do if I don't score Advanced Low on the exam?
If you do not achieve the minimum language proficiency the first time you take the test, you, with your advisor, will need to devise a plan for achieving the minimum required proficiency prior to student teaching. When you are ready to retake the test, contact ALTEC.
- Agree on a date and time for your exam with ALTEC.
- Sign up for your exam at Language Testing International.
How can I prepare for the test?
Studying and using your French will improve your skills and test score. Understanding the test can also reduce your anxiety and help improve your score.
JoAnn Hammadou Sullivan's article "Taking Charge: Teacher Candidates' Preparation for the Oral Proficiency Interview" (Foreign Language Annals 44, no. 2, summer 2011, pp. 241-257) reveals that candidates who achieved Advanced Low proficiency or better read more target language newspapers and literature for pleasure, watched more target language movies and television shows, wrote more letters in the target language and practiced more with native speakers than unsuccessful candidates. Candidates who demonstrated Advanced Low proficiency reported that they spent 19 hours per week outside of class using the target language, whereas non-successful candidates spent only 6 hours per week using the target language.
Web resources for practice
- LTI's Frequently-asked questions for test takers.
- Demo version of the OPIc is available here. Consider recording your answers to the prompts and listening and self-critiquing or asking your advisor to offer feedback.
- Strategies for developing oral proficiency from SUNY-Oswego's teacher preparation program.
- Suggestions for when you take the test (SUNY-Oswego)