Oral Proficiency Interview
Thread poster: Anait
Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
English to Russian
+ ...
Nov 24, 2009

Hi,

One of the steps to become a credentialed court interpreter (at least in my state) is an Oral Proficiency Interview. It's not an oral exam yet. I have to pass it with score 12 (out of 12) which is pretty much the level of a native speaker. Anybody here on the forum have taken this interview before? I would appreciate any insights or advice to help me get prepared. - What kind of questions do they usually ask, are there any particular requirements to grammar/vocabulary usage, etc. Thanks!


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Henry Hinds  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 16:23
English to Spanish
+ ...
State Nov 24, 2009

Your best bet is to check with the state authority administering the interview. They are the only ones who can give you good answers.

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Sara Senft  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 18:23
Spanish to English
+ ...
This should give you a good idea Nov 24, 2009

I didn't take this test because I live in a different state. I did, however, do a search and I dound this link. You should be able to get a good idea of what to expect.

http://www.tncourts.gov/geninfo/Publications/Forms/Interpreters/Interp%20Manual%20January%202009%20Revised.pdf


Anait wrote:

Hi,

One of the steps to become a credentialed court interpreter (at least in my state) is an Oral Proficiency Interview. It's not an oral exam yet. I have to pass it with score 12 (out of 12) which is pretty much the level of a native speaker. Anybody here on the forum have taken this interview before? I would appreciate any insights or advice to help me get prepared. - What kind of questions do they usually ask, are there any particular requirements to grammar/vocabulary usage, etc. Thanks!


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Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
Thanks Nov 24, 2009

Sara, Henry - thanks for responding. I have all official information by now. I am interested in the first-hand experience at this point. You know how important it is to have an idea about the structure of an exam to be able to pass it.

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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 18:23
Romanian to English
+ ...
Hi Anait, Nov 24, 2009

I took the test this March and passed it.
The Court Ad-tor of your state hires an agency, usually one in NY who has certified testers.
On the date of the OPI, you go to the office of the Court Adm. and have the interview over the phone in the presence of somebody from the Adm.office.
The interview lasts about an hour.
At first, you introduce yourself and tell the tester about your education, profession,etc.
First topic : I had to explain in my native language how I perceive the new security measures at airports post 9/11. Be very careful! Do not mix Russian with English words.
Second topic: How would be the world without the internet? Express your opinion.
Third topic : A group of let's say, Russian students travels abroad; what are the instructions you would give them.
Fourth topic : (low register) an uneducated lady wins a large amount of money and asks for your opinion what to buy with them (remember : very low register !)
Then, I was asked to explain a few Romanian idioms, what is the Gordian Knot ( I joked saying that you cut the Gordian Knot with Damocles' sword!).
And that's it! No big deal, but be very careful not to utter any single English word !
The tester will read the instructions in English ! You might get other topics, but I am sure you can handle them well.

Good luck !
let me know how was it.

[Edited at 2009-11-24 23:40 GMT]


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Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
English to Russian
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TOPIC STARTER
that was of great help Nov 25, 2009

Lee, thanks a lot for for the details! Sounds not too bad. I'm not afraid of messing up English with Russian, I do it a lot in Russian but not with English, for some unknown reason:), and this is going to be an English test for me. Which is not my native language, but I have to score a big one. This is what makes me worry a little. I appreciate your kind words though!

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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 18:23
Romanian to English
+ ...
thank you Anait, Nov 25, 2009

maybe I misunderstood you, but the OPI is in Russian ! They want to assess your proficiency in Russian !

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Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
both Nov 25, 2009

I have to take both for the court interpreter certification purposes, which absolutely makes sense. It's the English OPI that concerns me, I do not worry about being tested in my native language. The fact that I have to score in English at a native level (i.e., with the highest possible score) makes me dig into it fiercly. Which, in fact, I do not quite understand, I mean such a harsh requirement. I would imagine that the level close to native (something in between 10 and 12) should be good enough to be able to handle complex tasks. Then there is always room to grow. Besides, it's just a lot more realistic expectation. Never in my life have I met a foreigner who'd speak my language at a level that could be called close to native. I'm not saying it's not possible at all, but it sounds quite unreasonable to me to expect it happening on a mass scale. Just some thoughts.

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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 18:23
Romanian to English
+ ...
Anita Nov 25, 2009

TN is part of the Consortium; you passed the written exam and for languages that do not have a Certification Exam, the OPI is enough; so far these are the rules in PA. I passed the OPI in Romanian, no English. Double-check with the Court Ad-tor..

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Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
nope Nov 25, 2009

lee roth wrote:

TN is part of the Consortium; you passed the written exam and for languages that do not have a Certification Exam, the OPI is enough; so far these are the rules in PA. I passed the OPI in Romanian, no English. Double-check with the Court Ad-tor..


Thanks for looking into it with me and letting me know about this condition, I didn't know about that. But we do have a Certification Exam for Russian Language in TN and the AOC certification guidelines (the link is kindly provided by Sara above) directly state "Each candidate must take the OPI in English as well as their target language... and... must receive a “Superior" rating ...or... a score of 12....". So, the only solution to the problem, as I see it, is passing the test with the needed score:).


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 18:23
Romanian to English
+ ...
OK. Nov 26, 2009

Good luck!

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Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
English to Russian
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TOPIC STARTER
... Nov 26, 2009

lee roth wrote:

Good luck!
Thanks, I will need it.:)
Happy Thanksgiving!


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 18:23
Romanian to English
+ ...
I got the official rule in PA Dec 3, 2009

I would suggest to talk to your Court Ad-tor. Please read carefully to the end :

Languages for which there is no Oral Proficiency Examination

In order to demonstrate linguistic proficiency, interpreters of foreign languages for which there is no full or partial oral performance test must take an Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI).

These interviews were developed by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), for evaluating the language communication skills of speakers of foreign languages and are administered by Language Testing International (LTI). There are over 50 languages available.

In this test the candidate’s foreign language skills are evaluated by expert raters during the course of a telephone based interview session. Candidates travel to a location with secure access to a phone line and after providing a valid picture ID and other verifying information, are placed in a room were the interview is conducted over the telephone. During the interview the rater assesses the language skills and fluency level of the candidate in their language. Candidates must perform at the superior level. Results are reported back to the ICP and the candidate. Interpreters in this category must also agree to take and pass a full or partial oral proficiency exam in their foreign language when available.

When a candidate’s English language skills are deemed insufficient, he or she may be asked to take and pass an English proficiency interview at the superior level and/or a Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL) at the discretion of the ICP.

Oral Proficiency Interviews will be scheduled after candidates pass the written exam, or as they become necessary. The OPI will be offered at specific locations on weekdays during business hours in Philadelphia, Harrisburg, or Pittsburgh. Candidates will receive more information, instructions, and a registration form after completing the written examination requirement. The cost of the OPI is currently $143.


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Anait  Identity Verified
United States
Local time: 17:23
English to Russian
+ ...
TOPIC STARTER
I'll check Dec 16, 2009

Lee, thanks. I will check into this with our AOC office. BTW, while talking to different people about their experiences, I found out that, apparently, the OPI requirements have changed quite a bit. I'm not sure when it happened, just didn't have time to dig into it yet, but it looks like those who already have a status of either registered or certified court interpreters underwent somewhat softer procedures in the past. This is the case with OPIs. Now, I, at least, can understand how it could happen when hearing hardly comprehendable English from some certified folks. Oh, well...

I'll keep working on it.

[Edited at 2009-12-16 08:32 GMT]


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liviu roth
United States
Local time: 18:23
Romanian to English
+ ...
I am not so sure of that Dec 19, 2009

The OPI is given by independent agencies hired by your AOC office. These agencies have their own rules set for any OPI (not only for court interpreting) therefore I am not so sure that all of the sudden the test got tougher.

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