Getting to Advanced Low: Preparation for and Efficacy of Oral Proficiency Testing

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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
Stream: Literacy, Language, Multiliteracies; Languages Education and Second Language Learning
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Dr. Mirta Barrea-Marlys

Assitant Professor, Department of Foreign Language Studies, Monmouth University
West Long Branch, NJ, USA

I am currently an assistant professor in the Department of Foreign Language Studies at Monmouth University. I hold a Ph.D. in Romance Languages from the University of Pennsylvania, where I was extensively trained in the communicative method of teaching foreign languages, linguistics, and pedagogy. I teach all levels of Spanish language, culture, literature, linguistics, and methods for teaching world languages. I also teach Italian and have studied in Italy and Spain as an undergraduate and graduate student. I have published a book, Jael, on the eighteenth-century Spanish theater and am coeditor of the Encyclopedia of Latin American Theater. My publications include articles and book chapters on contemporary Latin American women authors, the novel and film in Spain and Latin America, and contemporary Argentine authors. I have also contributed to the Dictionary of Mexican Literature and my work entitled La obra literaria de Altaír Tejeda de Tamez, a prolific Mexican female author, is currently in press. My present research interests include a study of the linguistic variations of Spanish in Monmouth County, NJ and preparation for and efficacy of oral proficiency testing.

Ref: L09P1375