Spanish Oral Proficiency Requirements

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. The requirement is so that teachers will be able to help students according to the new student learning standards. ACTFL has a more in-depth explanation for why French and Spanish candidates must achieve Advanced Low proficiency.

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, the test administrator.

Once you are ready to take your OPI or OPIc, please contact the ALTEC Resources Coordinator (Jennifer Katzung: jennifer.katzung@colorado.edu, 303-492-8224), who will serve as proctor for the exam. Agree on a date and time for your exam with the Resources Coordinator, and then sign up for your exam.

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 together with your advisor will devise a plan for achieving minimum proficiency before student teaching.

How can I prepare for the test?

Obviously studying and using your Spanish will improve your skills and test score. Understanding the test can also reduce your anxiety and improve your score.

Web resources for practice

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.

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, including "Getting Advanced Low on Spanish OPI" by Miss Richito.

Spanish language practice modules from University of Texas-Austin's Center for Open Educational Resources and Language Learning (COERLL).

Practice test for the Simulated OPI (SOPI) from the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CELTA) at Michigan State University. The SOPI is different than the OPI and OPIc. CELTA's website has a table that shows how these three tests are different. A good way to practice is to take these tests and send yourself your responses. Listen to your response. Ask a peer, or your advisor to listen and give feedback.

Practice your advanced-level conversation skills with live partners through on-line 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 anne.becher@colorado.edu, to decide how many conversations to have and what proficiency skills to focus on so that the conversations are as productive as possible.