Name: Fernando Oleas
Office: FO 3104
SLOs for Modern Languages
Proficiency Assessment Timeline for Spanish, French, Italian
INTRODUCTORY SEQUENCE: Between the third and fifth week of Beginning Language 1, an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) of 5 to 7 minutes is conducted with all students in small groups of 2 or 3. This time is built into the syllabus. It may take two full days, depending on the number of students.
EXPECTED OUTCOME: Students, about five weeks in, should be at Novice Low to Novice Mid. This assessment helps faculty to identify students with particular issues, such as pronunciation, vocabulary, or difficulty comprehending basic questions. This is also an opportunity to identify those students who are more advanced than they should be for this level. Such students should be redirected to a more appropriate level at this time.
Students are tested again near the end of the semester, usually around Week 15. Students who performed at Novice Low should now be a solid Novice Mid; students who placed into Novice Mid should have reached Novice High.
BEGINNING SEQUENCE STUDENTS IN SPANISH, FRENCH AND ITALIAN SHOULD PLACE INTO THE NOVICE MID TO NOVICE HIGH RANGE BY WEEK FIFTEEN.
SPANISH, FRENCH, and ITALIAN TWO:
The same guidelines as above are used for student OPI testing, with interviews lasting a little longer—usually around 10 minutes for a group of 2 or 3.
EXPECTED OUTCOME for 2: Students entering a “2” sequence should end up at least one level higher than they were coming in. All students who leave a “2” sequence should, at a minimum, be speaking at a NOVICE HIGH level.
EXPECTED OUTCOME FOR LEVEL 3 CLASSES: The same procedure is followed, with instructors sometimes choosing to interview each student separately. STUDENTS LEAVING A “3” LEVEL LANGUAGE COURSE SHOULD MEET THE MINIMUM REQUIREMENT OF INTERMEDIATE LOW.
In general, students should leave a language course 1-2 levels higher than when they entered the course. This means that a student who places higher than expected at the beginning is still responsible for improving his/her language skills by at least one level on the OPI.
Commonly asked questions:
Is everyone always tested?
Answer: Some instructors choose to only test a sample group of students and collect their data with that group alone. Most instructors, however, prefer to test every student and even tie their improvement to their grade.
How much does the OPI “count” if the instructor for the course decides to make it part of the grade?
Answer: That is an individual decision, but it is usually between 10-20 percent of the students’ final grade in the class. If a student advances two full levels, they receive a 10/10 or 20/20 (100%). If he/she advances one level, they receive 8/10 or 15/20. If the student does not advance at all, instructors may give 5/10 or 10/20 for the attempt, or they may re-test the student, or they can decide to give no credit.
If the OPI counts for the final grade, then that means students are expected to become more proficient in their speaking abilities. What if students are not spending very much class time on speaking skills because the instructors are covering grammar or doing other things in class?
Answer: Oral proficiency is what most students value the most in their introductory language classes. They want to be able to communicate with others in the target language. Consequently, instructors make time in their classes for oral proficiency practice—eliciting responses in the target language, providing opportunities for conversation, emphasizing communication in a variety of everyday situations. In most language classes at Pierce, oral communication is stressed every day.
ORAL PROFICIENCY INTERVIEW RUBRIC
Department of Modern Languages
* NOVICE LOW: No real functional ability. Almost unintelligible due to poor pronunciation. May be able to exchange greetings, give identity, name familiar objects given time and cues/clues. Not able to participate in a conversational exchange.
* NOVICE MID: Minimal communication. Uses isolated words and memorized phrases in a very limited context. Frequent pauses, searches for words. Usually gives stock answer. Due to hesitations, lack of vocabulary, inaccuracy, failure to respond appropriately, may be understood with great difficulty even by sympathetic interlocutors accustomed to non-native speakers. When called upon to perform Intermediate level topics and functions, they often resort to repetition, words from their native language, or silence.
* NOVICE HIGH: Able to handle a variety of tasks pertaining to Intermediate level, but cannot sustain performance at that level. Manages successfully various uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward social situations. Conversation limited to predictable topics necessary for survival in the target language culture (basic personal information, basic objects, limited number of activities, personal preferences, immediate needs). Responds to simple, direct questions or requests for information; only asks simple and formulaic questions when asked to do so. Relies on learned phrases or recombinations of these; short, sometimes incomplete sentences in the present tense. First language may strongly influence pronunciation, syntax and vocabulary. With repetition and rephrasing, Novice High speakers can generally be understood by sympathetic interlocutors accustomed to dealing with non-native speakers. Cannot sustain sentence level discourse at the Intermediate level.
* INTERMEDIATE LOW: Able to handle successfully a limited number of uncomplicated communicative tasks by creating with the language in straightforward social situations. Conversation restricted to concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for survival in the target language. Topics: basic personal information, self and family, daily activities and personal preferences, ordering food, making simple purchases. Speakers are primarily reactive and struggle to answer direct questions or requests for information. Are able to ask a few appropriate questions. Can talk about the past and the future in simple sentences. Expresses personal meaning by combining and recombining into short statements what they know and hear from interlocutor. Utterances show hesitancy and inaccuracies while they search for the appropriate linguistic forms and vocabulary. Frequent pauses, self corrections. Pronunciation, vocabulary and syntax are strongly influenced by their first language, but they can generally be understood by sympathetic interlocutors.
* INTERMEDIATE MID: Able to handle successfully a variety of uncomplicated communicative tasks in straightforward social situations. Conversation limited to predictable and concrete exchanges necessary for survival in the target culture: information regarding self, family, home, daily activities, interests, personal preferences, as well as physical and social needs (food, shopping, travel, lodging). Tends to function reactively: responds to direct questions and requests for information. Capable of asking a variety of questions when necessary (directions, prices and services). Difficulty linking ideas, manipulating time and aspect, not able to employ circumlocution effectively. Can express personal meaning by creating with the language by combining and recombining known elements and conversational input to make entire sentences and strings of sentences. Speech may contain pauses, reformulations and self-corrections. Generally understood by sympathetic interlocutors. May still have issues with pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar/syntax.
* INTERMEDIATE HIGH: Able to converse with ease and confidence when dealing with most routine tasks and social situations of the Intermediate level. Handles successfully many uncomplicated tasks and social situations requiring an exchange of basic information related to school, work, recreation, particular interests and areas of competence, though hesitation and errors may be evident. Can handle Advanced level tasks, but unable to sustain performance at that level over a variety of topics. Speakers can narrate and describe in major time frames using connected discourse of paragraph length. However, their performance may break down at times: failure to maintain the appropriate time frame, showing disintegration of connected discourse, misuse of connecting phrases, showing a reduction in breadth and appropriateness of vocabulary, failure to employ circumlocution, or show a significant amount of hesitation. Can be generally understood by native speakers. Dominant language may still be evident (false cognates, literal translations, etc.).
* ADVANCED LOW: Handles a variety of communicative tasks, although haltingly at times. Participates actively in most informal and limited number of formal conversations on activities related to work, home, current, public, and personal interest or individual relevance. Demonstrate the ability to narrate in all major time frames (past, present, future) in paragraph length discourse, but control of aspect may be lacking. Handles the linguistic challenges of presented by a complication or unexpected turn of events that occur within the context of a routine situation or communicative task. They may rephrase or employ circumlocution. Combines and links sentences into connected discourse of paragraph length. When pressed for a fuller account, they may grope and rely on minimal discourse. Utterances typically not longer than a single paragraph. They may use false cognates, literal translations, or the structure of their first language. While their language may be marked by substantial, albeit irregular flow, it is typically somewhat strained and tentative, with noticeable self-correction and a certain grammatical roughness. Vocabulary is generic in nature. Contributes to the conversation with sufficient accuracy, clarity, and precision to convey their intended message without misrepresentation or confusion, and can be understood by native speakers. When pressed to perform at the Superior level, the quality and quantity of their speech will deteriorate significantly.