OPI-workshop-rev-2013

Report
OPI WORKSHOP
prepared by
Barbara Reichenbach
Check out this website:
http://aboutworldlanguages.com/speaking-selfassessment
ORAL PROFICIENCY
INTERVIEWS
• The OPI takes the form of a carefully
structured conversation between a
trained and certified interviewer (ACTFL)
and the person whose speaking
proficiency is being assessed (the
candidate). A ratable speech sample is
elicited from the interviewee by a series
of questions or tasks, which follow the
established protocol. The speech sample
is recorded and later independently rated
by two certified testers.
Overview of Each
Level of Oral
Proficiency
INTERMEDIATE
Create With Language
Ask and Answer Simple Questions
Handle a Simple Situation or Translation
ADVANCED
Narrate
Describe
Handle a Complicated Situation or
Transaction
SUPERIOR
Support Opinions
Hypothesize
Discuss Abstract Topics
Handle Linguistically Unfamiliar
Situations
The interview consists of five
stages:
• the warm-up
• level checks
• probes
• role-play
• wind-down
WARM-UP
• to put the interviewee at ease
• to familiarize him/her with the
pronunciation and way of speaking of
the interviewer
• to generate topics which can be
explored later in the interview
LEVEL CHECKS
• allow the interviewee to demonstrate
his/her ability to manipulate tasks and
contexts at a particular level.
PROBES
• If the interviewer is satisfied with the
candidate's sustained performance, an
attempt will be made to discover the
'ceiling', i.e. to elicit a response at the
higher level.
• 'Probes', thus, make the candidate reveal
a pattern of weaknesses
ROLE-PLAY
• serves as an additional check, to help
the interviewer confirm the candidate's
level.
WIND-DOWN
• brings the interviewer down to a level
comfortable for the candidate so as to
end the OPI on a positive note.
Each proficiency level consists of
five components:
• function
• content
• context
• accuracy
• text type
‘FUNCTION’
• refers to what the learner can do with
the language
'CONTENT' AND 'CONTEXT'
• ‘Content’ refers to the range of topics
(personal, professional, and abstract)
the learner can handle with confidence
• ‘Context’ refers to what setting (formal
or informal) is used.
'ACCURACY'
• describes the extent of phonological
and syntactical precision, that is,
pronunciation, vocabulary choice and
grammatical structures
'TEXT TYPE'
• refers to the discourse complexity of
the candidate, i.e. whether the subject
speaks in discrete words, unconnected
sentences or extended, planned
paragraphs.
COMMENTS FROM
RECENT OPI
CANDIDATES
The interview will start with some
small talk in French. The goal is to put
you at ease. Then based on that small
talk, the interviewer will ask you a
follow up question at a certain level and
continue to ask questions pushing your
ability by asking questions at higher
levels. If you struggle too much with
one, the interviewer will likely drop
down a level and ask another question.
The point of this is to find out your
level. A good interviewer tries and picks
topics that you are familiar with (based
on the initial small talk).
Then comes a situational card at
the level the interviewer feels you
are at. This will often require you to
ask questions and at the higher levels
express opinions. An example might
be to interview a potential roommate
(the interviewer is your potential
roommate). The interview may have
you do a second situational card if
he/she isn't sure he/she got the level
right.
And then the conversation ends
with some more small talk to put you
at ease. And you will get your results
and a certificate in the mail in a few
weeks or so.
When you go in for the interview,
relax. Have confidence in your
abilities and you will do fine.
My best advice is to try to
pretend that you are talking to a
friend and try to forget that it is a
"test". That way you will be more
relaxed and your conversation will
be more authentic.
Also, for a couple of days before
the test force yourself to think in
French and to recount narratives of
the events of the day aloud in
French.
The basic format of the
interview was as follows:
1) Say your name.
2) Speak about yourself (this is a very
open question)
3) Answer a few questions pertaining to
what you were talking about.
4) Describe what to do in a given scenario.
5) If there is time left afterward, more
questions.
• The scenario was that I was driving a
friend’s car and I got into an accident. I
said that the car crashed into a truck,
and the truck driver was drunk and he
drove away (though I called the police and
they know who the driver is). Fortunately
everyone was ok, and I said that I would
pay for the damage to the car. When it
was expressed that the car was such a
nice car that the friend had for 3 years,
I said that bad things happen - it’s
reality.
• After the scenario we talked a little bit
more about my plans in Kazakhstan. At
this point it seemed less like an actual
OPI interview and more like a casual
conversation with a teacher. That made
me feel more at ease, since I was quite
nervous at the beginning.
• The strange thing is that when I talk for a
long time in any foreign language, my mouth
feels drier than usual. This particularly
happens during interviews or when I have to
give speeches or presentations in front of
the class. Perhaps in the future I should
have a water bottle with me when I speak.
TEST TAKING TIPS FOR AN
OPI
• During the Oral Proficiency Interview
(OPI), listen carefully to the questions
asked by the interviewer before
answering.
• When answering, give as detailed a
response as possible. Not expanding on
your responses because of the fear of
making a mistake will not improve your
rating.
• If you do not know a specific term in
the test language, describe it in the
test language and try not to resort to
your native language or make up words
(if you do this, do not be surprised if
the interviewer asks you to describe
what that word means).
• Demonstrating how well you can explain
terms in the test language is one of the
communication tasks that is looked for
at and above the Intermediate High
level.
HINTS FOR DOING WELL
ON THE ORAL
PROFICIENCY INTERVIEW
1) Talk a lot! No one ever lost
points for talking too much. The
more you say, the better off you
are.
2) Say what you can, not what you
can't. Let's say that the tester asks
you to name the most burning issue in
the world today. And let's assume that
your chief interest is the plight of the
snail darter. If you know all about the
snail darter in the target language, fine.
Talk about snail darters. If not,
concentrate on a topic for which you
have the words.
3) Don't sweat the grammar. Yes,
grammar counts. But this is not a
written exercise. Saying a lot at a good
tempo gets you more mileage than
stopping to make a mental check of
every grammatical ending.
4) Engage the tester in conversation.
Feel free to engage the tester in a giveand-take flow of talk. In the same vein,
you do not have to answer questions
with which you are personally
uncomfortable. Just say so.
For example:
Tester: How would you react to the rise
of religious faith in the U.S.
• Examinee: I would rather not talk about
my own religious beliefs.
5) Don't be afraid to ask for
repetition or clarification. Even in your
native language, you often stop your
conversation partner to ask, "Sorry,
what was that?" or "I'm not sure what
you mean by 'nuclear plaything'".
There's nothing wrong with making the
tester explain things that you didn't
catch.
SCENARIOS FOR ROLE
PLAYING
• http://wahs.8j.net/forlan/spanish/topics.htm
• Click on “role play”
GOOD
LUCK !!

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