Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

To download an ACTFL OPI Familiarization Manual, click here.

What is the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview?
What is the format of the OPI?
How is the OPI rated?
Who conducts and rates the OPI?
How reliable is the OPI?
How do I request an OPI?
How are OPIs proctored?
What is the cost of an OPI?
In what languages is the OPI available?

What is the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview?

The ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview, or OPI, is a live 20-30 minute conversation, taking place over the phone, between a trained, certified ACTFL tester and the candidate. It is a valid and reliable test that measures how well a person speaks a language. The procedure is standardized in order to assess global speaking ability, measuring language production holistically by determining patterns of strengths and weaknesses. Through a series of personalized questions a sample of speech is elicited and rated against the proficiency levels described in ACTFLProficiencyGuidelines 2012 – Speaking or the Inter-Agency Language Roundtable Language Skill Level Descriptors – Speaking.

The primary goal of the OPI is the efficient elicitation of a ratable sample. To be ratable, a speech sample must clearly demonstrate the highest sustained level of performance of the speaker (known as the “floor”) and the level at which the speaker can no longer sustain the performance (known as the “ceiling”), over a variety of topics. The OPI resembles a conversation, but in fact, the tester respects a strict elicitation protocol and structures the interview in a specific way.

What is the format of the OPI?

The four mandatory phases of the OPI are the:

  • Warm up
  • Level checks
  • Probes
  • Wind down

How is the OPI rated?

An OPI can be requested on the ACTFL scale or the Inter-Agency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale. An ACTFL OPI will rate between Novice and Superior on the ACTFL scale. An ILR OPI will rate between ILR 0 (No Proficiency) and ILR 5 (Functionally Native).

The OPI assesses language proficiency in terms of the ability to use the language effectively and appropriately in real-life situations. It does not address when, where, why, or the way in which a speaker has acquired his/her language. The OPI is not an achievement test assessing a speaker’s acquisition of specific aspects of course and curriculum content, nor is it tied to any specific method of instruction. The OPI does not compare one individual’s performance to others, but each individual performance to the assessment criteria.

Commercial OPIs are single rated;  an ACTFL Certified OPI Tester rates the sample by identifying the ACTFL speaking proficiency level criteria met by the candidate’s performance.  LTI quality assurance procedures require that over 50% of all commercial OPIs are double rated.

In an Official/Certified OPI, the recorded interview is blindly rated by two ACTFL Certified OPI Testers, whose independent ratings must agree before an official rating is released.

Who conducts and rates the OPI?

ACTFL Certified OPI Testers are highly specialized language professionals who have completed a rigorous training process that concludes with a tester’s demonstrated ability to consistently elicit ratable speech samples and consistently rate samples with a high degree of reliability.

ACTFL Certified OPI Testers, through LTI,  uphold the highest professional and ethical standards in test administration and rating.

How reliable is the OPI?

The reliability of ACTFL assessments is well documented by 3rd-party studies – the rigor of ACTFL’s selection, training and certification process for testers and raters, along with ongoing monitoring, norming and re-certification, are second to none.

How do I request an OPI?

To schedule an OPI, your organization must set up a free account with Language Testing International – we will collect some basic administrative information and then provide access to a secure web-based scheduling utility. Using this utility, the organization can request assessments, track those requests, confirm appointments and see results.

The utility is used to provide to LTI the test type & language required, along with the name of the client and a window of time in which the candidate can take the test. Once a tester has been identified, and a test time confirmed, the appointment is confirmed, and the party notified by email and on the website utility.

Generally, assessments can be scheduled within a few working days, and results are available in one working day (for commercial OPIs), or ten working days (for Certified OPIs).

Results of assessments are also posted and stored on the client utility website, allowing organizations to track their testing activity easily in a single location.

How are OPIs proctored?

OPIs must be proctored by a trusted, responsible individual, ideally a member of the HR department of the organization requesting the assessment. This individual, nominated by the organizing agency, will sign a form and provide it to LTI in advance of the assessment, undertaking to guarantee the identity of the candidate and the conditions under which the test is taken.

What is the cost of an OPI?

Please contact us for commercial pricing. Government clients can find our GSA Schedule here.

In what languages is the OPI available?

Afrikaans, Akan-Twi, Albanian, Amharic, Arabic, Armenian, Azerbaijani, Baluchi, Bengali, Bosnian, Bulgarian, Burmese, Cambodian, Cantonese, Cebuano, Czech, Dari, Dutch, English, French, Ga, Georgian, German, Greek (Modern), Gujarati, Haitian Creole, Hausa, Hebrew, Hiligaynon, Hindi, Hmong-Mong, Hungarian, Igbo, Ilocano, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Javanese, Kashmiri, Kazakh, Kikongo-Kongo, Korean, Krio, Kurdish, Lao, Malay,  Malayalam, Mandarin, Mandingo-Bambara, Nepali, Pashto, Persian-Farsi, Polish, Portuguese, Punjabi, Romanian, Russian, Serbian/Croatian, Sindhi, Sinhalese, Slovak, Somali, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tajik, Tamil, Tausug, Telugu, Thai, Tigrinya, Turkish, Turkmen, Uighur, Urdu, Uzbek, Vietnamese, Wolof, Wu and Yoruba

ILR Ratings Only: Algerian, Arabic-MSA, Chavacano, Egyptian, Iraqi, Jordanian, Kurdish Kurmanji, Kurdish Sorani, Lebanese, Levantine, Libyan, Lingala, Moroccan, Palestinian, Portuguese-Brazilian, Portuguese-European, Samoan, Sudanese, Syrian, Tunisian, UAE, Yemeni

Let us know if the language you need is not listed – we are constantly adding new capabilities.