Getting to Advanced Low: Preparation for and Efficacy of Oral Proficiency Testing
University Foreign Language departments across the US are facing challenges to be nationally recognized for their teacher education programs. Accrediting bodies such as the National Council for Accreditation of Teaching Education (NCATE) have set high expectations for teacher education programs which intend to develop stronger, more qualified teachers. The foreign language Specialty Professional Association, ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages), implemented rigorous standards and the establishment of the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) to ensure quality foreign language teacher candidates. Students now have to pass the OPI with a score of advanced low in the target language before student teaching. Challenges face many US FL departments in preparing their students for the thirty minute telephone interview that determines the students’ future teaching careers. Students cannot proceed to Student Teaching or become state certified in many states without achieving an advanced low score in the OPI. This study presents the challenges of one medium sized institution on the east coast of the United States suddenly faced with student preparation for the OPI. Although there are some studies on Oral Proficiency testing (e.g., Norris & Pfeiffer; Barnwell), there is limited research about the actual processes being implemented at academic institutions to improve student oral proficiency for the OPI (Pearson, Fonseca-Greber, Bonnibeth, & Foell). There is also little data to show efficacy of the test (e.g., Ke). The studies are included in this presentation, as well as personal experience in the advancement of student oral proficiency in order to provide insights into the current phenomenon of national accreditation in foreign language teacher education in the United States.
Keywords: Teacher Education, Higher Education, Educational Reform, National Accreditation, Oral Proficiency, Foreign Languages
Dr. Mirta Barrea-Marlys
Assitant Professor, Department of Foreign Language Studies, Monmouth University