Spanish Teaching candidates must demonstrate Advanced Low oral 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 Advanced Low proficiency is required, see the answers to the FAQs 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 is a telephone interview. The OPIc is a simulated interview via computer with an avatar asking questions, which is less expensive than the OPI. More information about these tests is available from the ACTFL site about the OPI/OPIc and in the FAQ book published by Language Testing International (LTI), the test administrator.
Once you are ready to schedule your OPI or OPIc, you will need to decide if you would prefer to take the exam on campus or remotely. If you prefer to take the exam remotely, you can proceed to sign up for the exam with the remote proctoring system provided by LTI. This service does incur a small fee. If you would like to take the exam on campus, please email email@example.com to determine a date and time that is suitable for all parties. When this has been decided, you may proceed to sign up for your exam, following these instructions:
- Navigate to Language Testing International.
- Select your language.
- 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 "Spanish" for the language.
- Select either the ACTFL OPI or the ACTFL OPIc.
- For the proctor, select "University of Colorado Boulder".
- Select "Mountain Time" in the Time Zone box and then enter in 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, or someone to check your identification for the OPIc.
- 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, should devise a plan for achieving the minimum required proficiency prior to student teaching.
How can I prepare for the test?
Studying and using your Spanish will improve your skills and test score. Understanding the test can also reduce your anxiety and possibly help improve your score.
The article "Taking Charge: Teacher Candidates' Preparation for the Oral Proficiency Interview" (JoAnn Hammadou Sullivan, Foreign Language Annals, Vol. 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
Expose yourself to as much Spanish-language input as possible by reading newspapers and books, listening to Radio Ambulante’s podcasts and watching Yabla videos in Spanish, using only Spanish subtitles and playing the language-learning games they offer.
Demo version of the OPIc; follow the link at the top of this page. Consider recording your answers to the prompts, listening and self-critiquing or asking your advisor for feedback.
Oral proficiency development suggestions from SUNY-Oswego's teacher preparation program.
SUNY-Oswego's suggestions for when you take the test.
There are some YouTube videos that give tips for achieving Advanced Low on the OPI, such as Miss Richito's "Getting Advanced Low on Spanish OPI".
Spanish language practice modules from University of Texas-Austin's Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL).
Practice your advanced-level conversation skills with live partners through online platforms like the Mixxer, which is free, or TalkAbroad, which offers the opportunity for language students to engage in (and record) 30-minute conversations with a native speaker via videoconferencing software for a per-conversation fee. Before signing up for TalkAbroad you will need to coordinate with your advisor firstname.lastname@example.org to decide how many conversations to have and what proficiency skills to focus on so that the conversations are as productive as possible.