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Oral Proficiency Standards and Foreign Language Teacher Candidates: Current Findings and Future Research Directions



The renewed national focus on teacher quality and effectiveness has resulted in more rigorous standards that describe the knowledge and skills required of teacher candidates across all disciplines. In the area of foreign languages, three sets of professional standards address the oral proficiency of teachers in the target languages they teach across the career continuum. For teacher candidates, the ACTFL/NCATE Program Standards for the Preparation of Foreign Language Teachers (2002) establish minimum oral proficiency levels based on the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines—Speaking (2012). Utilizing ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) data, this study examines to what extent candidates are attaining the ACTFL/NCATE Oral Proficiency Standard of Advanced Low in most languages or Intermediate High in Arabic, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean. Findings indicate that 54.8% of candidates attained the required standard between 2006 and 2012 and that significant differences emerged for language, year tested, and university program results. Further research that takes into account additional contextual information about candidates and programs will inform continuing professional dialogue about the oral proficiency of teacher candidates entering the profession.

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