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International Teaching Assistants Requirement: OPI|Modern and Classical Languages

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English Oral Proficiency Interview

Starting in May 2016, all prospective international Teaching Assistants have to take an online Oral Proficiency Interview by computer (OPIc). 

There are two options for those still in their home countries and those on campus. Both options cost $95 to be paid by the student prior to enrolling in courses at UW. The OPIc should be scheduled at least 10 days in advance. Deadline for students is one week before the term begins (Fall 2016: August 22, 2016).

1. For Admitted Students still in Home Countries: OPIc Abroad

The international Profluent+ can be scheduled online and taken prior to coming to Laramie, Wyoming.

2. For Students Already on Campus: OPIc at UW

The OPIc can be scheduled at the University of Wyoming. It is proctored by the Department of Modern and Classical Languages.

The University of Wyoming has a regulation regarding Oral English proficiency skills for graduate teaching positions. Only students who are rated Advanced Low or higher qualify to teach as graduate assistants. Once students receive evaluations, refer to the following chart:

  • Intermediate Mid: student is qualified to do research
  • Intermediate High: student is qualified to grade papers
  • Advanced Low: student is qualified to teach a Lab or to lead a seminar (under supervision)
  • Advanced Mid and higher: student is qualified to teach a course (under supervision)

FAQ:

I already took the TOEFL, do I have to take this test also?

The TOEFL is not a valid substitution for this requirement. However, there are exceptions:

  1. If you already have an advanced degree from an English-language university and have already served as a teaching assistant, you do not need to take this test. Your English university degree must be apparent on your transcripts.
  2. If you will not be serving as a teaching assistant at UW, the OPIc test is optional.

If you will teach at UW and you do not qualify for an exception, your department cannot waive the OPI exam. Please confirm your status by consulting with your department and faculty mentor.

Are there funding sources available to pay for the test?

The University currently has no funding available, but students should ask their departments if they have scholarships available to offset the costs of the OPIc.

How is the Oral Proficiency Interview conducted?

The ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview, or OPI, is a live, 20-30 minute telephone conversation between a 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. For more information visit http://www.languagetesting.com/oral-proficiency-interview-opi 

What does the rating criteria mean?

For information regarding ACTFL oral proficiency rating criteria, please visit http://www.actfl.org/publications/guidelines-and-manuals/actfl-proficiency-guidelines-2012/english/speaking

What if I don't pass the test?

If you are supported by a graduate assistantship that requires teaching, you should take the OPIc exam prior to accepting the assistantship. Please consult with your home department if you are unable to pass the exam. International graduate assistants hired to teach who do not receive a sufficient score to fulfill the UW teaching role may retake the exam but should consult with their home department before doing so.

The Department of Modern and Classical Languages (MCL) offers a course specifically to support international students who have difficulty with the exam:  Advance Instruction in Graduate Level English Oral Skills  (LANG 4800-04). Contact MCL to enroll in this course.  

LANG 4800-04. Advanced Instruction in Graduate Level English Oral Skills

Fall 2016: CRN 15173   Monday/Wednesday 4:10-5:25 PM, EA 207, Petra Heinz, pheinz@uwyo.edu

Develop oral English language skills and intelligibility required for participation in the American academic classrooms. Develop awareness of language and discourse and practice a variety of presentation skills for working with individuals and groups of students. Build your understanding of the culture of the American classroom. Build confidence in individual and small group teaching practice. This course includes videotaping and individualized feedback.

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