Assessing the Assessments: The OPI and the SOPI

Authors

  • Jane Kuo Ph.D.,

    1. The American Graduate School of International Management
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      Arizona State University is a Professor of Chinese at the American Graduate School of International Management, Glendale, Arizona. She is also a Certified OPI Tester.

  • Xixiang Jiang Ph.D.

    1. The American Graduate School of International Management
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      American University was Program Director for the Chinese Language Testing Program, and SOPI Trainer, with the Center for Applied Linguistics, Washington, DC. He is now an MIM candidate at the American Graduate School of International Management, Glendale, Arizona.


Abstract

ABSTRACT  This paper is an overall examination of the two forms of oral proficiency testing currently in use in most language teaching programs across the country, namely, the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview (SOPI). The authors, who have extensive experience in conducting the OPI and in training SOPI raters, have attempted to provide readers with an objective assessment of these two oral language tests by comparatively examining the test administration, response elicitation, and rating procedures. At the same time, the paper also provides a concise but general overview of the two test instruments regarding their theoretical underpinnings, administrative support from their test developers, and the test structures and contents.

While recognizing that the two tests under discussion are both proven to be valid and reliable oral proficiency measurements, the authors have examined the characteristics that distinguish them as two different tests suitable for different purposes in different situations. Teachers are encouraged to initially identify the specific testing needs of their own institutions, and then align the features of the two oral tests with their institutional requirements before making a decision on a particular form of the test.

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