Tips for Language Educators - OPI & OPIc

The OPI and OPIc are proficiency-based assessments that are designed to assess spontaneous unrehearsed language ability.

Since proficiency develops over time, cramming and last-minute practice will not likely improve a proficiency rating. Below are a few suggestions to help prepare learners over time.

  • Remember, the OPI is a proficiency-based assessment. Short-term cramming strategies will not be effective for an assessment like the OPI. As such, you should try to facilitate frequent and consistent opportunities for your learners to practice the language. You may find the ACTFL Performance Descriptors and the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements useful for creating rubrics to assess your learners’ progress in classroom-based activities.
  • Familiarize yourself with the proficiency descriptors and/or performance descriptors against which you will monitor your language learners’ progress, and familiarize your learners with them as well. You may find the NCSSFL-ACTFL Can-Do Statements are an accessible tool to use when talking about language proficiency and performance with language learners.
  • Familiarize your learners with the OPI or OPIc experiences so that they can focus on their language performance during the test. Test takers will not be able to rely upon non-verbal behaviors to assist with comprehension. Including speaking activities that are non-face-to-face will help learners become accustomed to the telephonic format of the OPI or interacting with an avatar in the OPIc.
  • Familiarize yourself and your learners with the format of the OPI by reviewing the OPI Familiarization Guide or the OPIc Familiarization Guide.
  • Keep in mind that the OPI and the OPIc are assessments of global proficiency. Try to address topics beyond the textbook and curriculum. Include unpredictable discussion topics about current events and other real-world topics (when appropriate) so that your learners become comfortable with spontaneous speech production about a variety of topics.