University of Iowa

Teaching Training Workshop - 2011 Proficiency Test Model Workshop In February 2011, Confucius Institute founding director Professor Chuanren KE led MA candidates in the University of Iowa's Chinese program in a hands-on workshop to evaluate the proficiency level of college students studying Chinese as a foreign language. Seven MA students evaluated the proficiency of approximately 20 undergraduate volunteers.

Feedback from MA participants: Lini GE: The OPI [Oral Proficiency Interview ]workshop provided me a great opportunity to internalize materials that I had read before attending the workshop. First of all, the PowerPoint presentation from Professor Ke gave us detailed descriptions of the purpose of OPI testing, definitions of the major levels and sub-levels, grading criteria, pedagogical implications, among others. Secondly, the group exercise of rating SOPI speech samples served as great hands-on experience for us to practice to be self-consistent in our rating and to reach consensus as a group. Thirdly, since each of us had the opportunity to interview 2-3 students with various profiles, many of us could indeed see the progress made by ourselves and the colleagues throughout the workshop. I really enjoyed conducting OPI with the students and I do intend to become a certified OPI tester in the future.

Yupeng KOU: In this workshop we were systematically trained about how to be an OPI/SOPI tester. We learned the test design, assessing criteria and testing techniques. We had discussions on detailed questions about the testing process and methods to deal with test takers of various profiles. With the guidance of our instructor, Professor Ke, we each conducted 2-3 practice tests with volunteer student participants and got a lot of practical experience. This workshop is crucial for Chinese as a foreign language researchers and instructors because language testing and assessment is an indispensable part of language teaching, and a good mastery of the proficiency test techniques will benefit not only our ability to manage a language test but also our classroom instruction. I am personally very interested in the discussion of framing test questions for more efficient elicitations, and I will continue to pay close attention to this part for both research purpose and pedagogical implications.

Wei WANG: The four-day intensive workshop is a tester-training on the ACTFL (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Chinese Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview (SOPI). It is of great importance as it is not only makes me internalize the ACTFL rating scale, assessment criteria, structure, but more importantly, it equips me with the necessary skill to conduct an effective OPI test and to rate the sample, which is also a competent qualification for a Chinese teacher.In the future, I would like to try to get the certification from ACTFL as a qualified OPI tester. Also, the standards and structure of OPI and SOPI will provide a clear guidance to improve my speaking class. In addition, I would like to employ some of the ideas in testing students’ speaking proficiency when design the speaking test for my students.In the end, I would like to express my gratitude to CI for providing us a well-organized and facilitated workshop.

Fengping YU: 1) The OPI workshop is of significance not only because that as Chinese teachers, we need to know the oral proficiency evaluation standards, but also do we better understand the guidelines of ACTFL as a whole, which is good for our teaching in the future regarding reading and writing as well. I wish I could have attended this workshop earlier. When I started to teach advanced level, I had no idea where to start and where to I have a much more clear picture in mind. And I can evaluate my students' learning by using some mimic OPI talk.2)I really like the way that the workshop proceeded. To internalize the guidelines first, to observe the OPI example and then, to have several real practice. I think this way is step by step and very beneficial. Actually, cause I observed the strengths and shortcomings showed in other teachers' performance before mine, I got a lot time to think and rehearse by myself, which I consider very beneficial before practicing with a real student.3) In addition, I enjoyed the discussion part held by the professor. We had different opinions and we tried to argue for our own views. During that arguing, I might find flaws of mine and I was able to better internalize the guidelines for sure. Actually, according to the fact that I got more same ratings as the professor's in the second day, I guess my rating skill improved quickly.