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What is the Oral Proficiency Interview?
An Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) is an assessment of functional speaking ability in a given language. The test measures how well a person can use a language effectively and appropriately by assessing performance on a range of different language tasks.
Depending on your non-English working language, the interview may be in one of two formats: the Live Spoken Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) or a computer-based Oral Proficiency Interview (OPIc).
In an OPI, the candidate is interviewed over the phone by a tester who guides the conversation to explore the abilities and limits of the individual’s oral target language skills. During the course of the interview, the candidate is guided to engage in a variety of tasks such as describing, narrating, and hypothesizing. The interview takes approximately 30 minutes to complete and is recorded and scored by the original interviewer as well as a second rater.
In an OPIc, the candidate is interviewed over the phone via a series of computer generated questions. During the course of the interview, the candidate is guided to engage in a variety of tasks such as describing, narrating, and hypothesizing. The interview is recorded and takes approximately 40 minutes to complete. This interview is also scored by trained certified raters.
For the Arizona Court Interpreter Credentialing Program, the OPI is performed in the candidate’s non-English working language. A score of Advanced or higher is required for the Tier 1 credential; Superior for Tier A, where applicable.
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How to Prepare for the OPI
The best preparation for an OPI is to have conversations on a wide variety of topics. Speaking about oneself, current events, as well as abstract topics that require elaboration on opinions or descriptive narrations are usually areas covered in an OPI. Practice elaborating on opinions, or supporting arguments for or against different topics.
Speak in your non-English language as much as possible, preferably with native speakers of that language who can engage you in conversation and correct any mistakes you make. Analyze any mistakes you do make and try to identify patterns (i.e., number/gender agreement errors, tense errors, etc.) and then eliminate them. When speaking, force yourself to elaborate. Reading widely and listening to broadcasts in your working language that are high-quality linguistically is also helpful.
The OPI will be performed telephonically, so practice speaking over the phone. The raters need to be able to hear you clearly in order to evaluate your performance.
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Registering for the OPI
To register for the OPI, a candidate should submit the English Written Exam and OPI Registration Form. OPIs are held in various locations at different times throughout the year. Click here for the Schedule and Calendar page. Click here for the Fee Schedule page.
Once the registration request has been submitted and the corresponding fee has been paid, the candidate will receive a confirmation letter via e-mail containing the date, time, and location for the OPI.
For information on the full credentialing process, please visit the Earning a Credential page.
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What to Expect at the Test Site
The candidate should report to the test room at least 15 minutes prior to the scheduled exam. Please remember to allow time for parking, passing through security, and navigating to the test room.
When checking-in, the candidate must show a valid picture identification issued by a U.S. or state government agency. If staff cannot verify the candidate’s identity through a valid ID, or if a candidate arrives late, the candidate will be turned away, the appointment will be lost, and no refund will be issued.
Once checked-in, the candidate will be taken to a room with a telephone. Candidates may not bring any notes or reference materials into the testing room. The OPI proctor will place the call for the interview and hand the receiver to the candidate.
The call will begin with some instructions in English and then the OPI will commence in the non-English language. The call will last approximately 30 – 40 minutes. Once the OPI is over, the candidate may hang up the phone and exit the testing site.
Candidates will be notified of their OPI score via e-mail by the Arizona Court Interpreter Credentialing Program. It is imperative that candidates maintain an up-to-date e-mail in the Arizona Court Interpreter Registry.
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