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Your Best Guide for Easily Passing the OPI Afrikaans Exam

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No more biting your nails over your pending Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) Afrikaans proficiency test! Anxiety only serves a good purpose if it motivates you to prepare well, because, as the saying goes, “Good preparation makes its own luck.”

Also, uncontrolled anxiety is bad for you and can definitely spoil your chances of performing well. We truly understand this at AfrikaansPod101.com, so we aim to help you reach your language goals so you can ace any Afrikaans exam with ease and confidence!

Woman Looking Relaxed at School

In this article, we’ll start with a look at why taking the OPI standardized language competency test can be helpful to you. 

Then we’ll move on to:

A) more details about the OPI, which is one of the oldest and best-known international Afrikaans proficiency tests available, offered by the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL);

B) what you can expect the test to look like;

C) tips on how to prepare for the test like a boss;

D)
other Afrikaans proficiency tests on offer

Log in to Download Your Free Cheat Sheet - Study Strategies in Afrikaans Table of Contents
  1. How Can Taking the OPI Afrikaans Proficiency Test Benefit You?
  2. More Reasons Why AfrikaansPod101 is an Excellent Choice for Preparing for OPIs!

1. How Can Taking the OPI Afrikaans Proficiency Test Benefit You?

Afrikaans competency tests are required by some institutes of higher education, such as colleges and universities, for the entrance and exit exams of certain programs. 

Passing an Afrikaans proficiency test may also be a job requirement, if you’re, for instance:

  • working or planning to work in South Africa
  • working with South African Afrikaans-speaking business clients, patients, or others
  • working abroad with an Afrikaans Embassy or Consulate

These are not the only benefits, however.

Student Standing with Medal

On their exclusive licencee’s website (where you can order the tests), the American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages lists a few other uses for their flagship assessment test (the OPI).

These include:

  • Language fluency certification
  • Earning college credit (Official OPI ratings are recommended for college credit based on the American Council on Education credit-by-examination review.)
  • Certain program evaluation and performance
  • Linguist or teacher credentialing
  • For research purposes
  • For employment selection (In this case, an employer will most likely require that every applicant do this test.)
  • It could also benefit you if you’re applying for a South African work or residential visa. Afrikaans is one of the most commonly spoken languages in the country—almost 7,000,000 residents are fluent speakers.

A. ACTFL’s Afrikaans Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

The ACTFL is one of the oldest institutions of its kind. Founded in 1967, it promotes language-learning and proficiency around the world, and has a whole center dedicated to assessment, research, and development.

At this point, the only Afrikaans exam available through the ACTFL (the OPI exam) is for the evaluation of speech.

In the ACTFL’s own words, the OPI is a “valid and reliable means of assessing how well a person speaks a language.” Third-party studies have documented the OPI’s reliability in this, and the ACTFL is furthermore rigorous in its training and monitoring of language professionals as testers.

There are two types of OPIs: a commercial one and an official/certified one. The main difference between them is that commercial OPIs are single-rated, and the certified one is double-rated. Read on for more information about that. 

B. What You Can Expect the Test to Look Like

The Oral Proficiency Interview takes the form of a rater conducting a one-on-one telephonic interview with the testee in order to record a ratable speech sample.

Woman Talking on Phone

In the case of official or certified OPIs, the sample is also evaluated by another rater, based on the same criteria. The two raters’ scores must agree independently before a rating is issued.

If it’s a commercial OPI, the speech sample is rated only once, by the tester.

Then a score is assigned, based on the Interagency Language Roundtable (IRL)’s scaling system, which has six levels: 0 – 5. The scale and ratings are based on criteria determined by the IRL’s Language Skill Level Descriptions for Speaking.

According to the IRL website, each of the scale’s six “base levels” implies control of any previous “base level’s” functions and accuracy. Therefore, getting a “0” means that a testee has no conversational Afrikaans skills, while a “5” means that the testee has the oral ability of a highly articulate, well-educated native Afrikaans speaker.

The IRL also offers completely computerized OPIs, but this testing option is not yet available for Afrikaans.

The duration of the call lasts between twenty and thirty minutes. The conversation is continuously adapted by the rater based on the testee’s interests and abilities, so it’s highly personalized and relates to real life. 

Therefore, it’s not possible to know the exact content of the conversation beforehand. However, you can expect the interview to be based on this formula, consisting of four mandatory phases:

  • Warm-up 
  • Level checks
  • Probes
  • Wind-down

It should be clear that the tester will be looking at your ability to use Afrikaans effectively and appropriately in real-life situations. 

1- What it isn’t

  • The test has nothing to do with checking when, where, why, or how you acquired Afrikaans. 
  • It isn’t an achievement test assessing specific aspects of course and curriculum content for academic purposes.
  • Neither is it connected to any specific instructional method.
  • The test isn’t comparative, meaning that your performance is not compared to other testers’.

2- How to Schedule a Test

All of the ACTFL’s assessments are done through their exclusive licensee, Language Testing International (LTI). 

The ordering and scheduling of tests are done online via the LTI’s website. Simply select the OPI assessment, based on your abilities and what you need it for; the procedures and steps to follow should be indicated clearly online. 

Individuals can apply for language certification, as can organizations, in which case different procedures and steps will apply. The site’s instructions are easy to follow.

Boy Learning with Earphones

C. How to Prepare for the OPI Like a Boss

Since it’s clear that the oral proficiency assessment is to ascertain your real-life conversational skills, it is, as said, difficult to predict what you’ll be asked during the test with the interviewer.

Also, you probably won’t be able to fool the tester—they’re very highly trained!

Therefore, the best preparation strategy would be to dig in and do some good old grafting in preparation for this assessment. AfrikaansPod101 can be of great help to you with this—just read on!

Meanwhile, here are some expert tips to help you prepare for an oral Afrikaans exam:

1- Practice, Practice, and More Practice

You can’t dodge this step! You’ll need to practice your Afrikaans-speaking abilities a lot if you want to get a good score on the OPI.

The best way to do this, according to foreign language-learner gurus, is to have as many conversations with (preferably native) Afrikaans-speakers as possible. According to one, “An hour of conversation, with corrections and a dictionary for reference, is as good as five hours in a classroom and 10 hours with a language course by yourself!”

That’s the bad news. And it’s even worse if you have no Afrikaans-proficient friends to speak with or don’t know where to meet these creatures!

The good news is that AfrikaansPod101 has an easy answer to this problem: get your own native Afrikaans-speaking teacher. This is one-on-one action you can’t do without if you wish to get a good score on the OPI.

Your friendly host will even do level assessments along the way. What better preparation can you possibly get, if you don’t live in South Africa or have a native Afrikaans-speaking friend?

If you have absolutely no knowledge of Afrikaans, start with our 100 Core Afrikaans Words list. Memorizing these will help you get a very basic conversation off the ground, and give you an immediate sense of accomplishment. Very encouraging.

2- Study, Study, Study

Another one you won’t be able to dodge is just the well-known ABC study technique. It involves Applying your Bottom to a Chair and doing the necessary intellectual labor to understand Afrikaans grammar, learn Afrikaans vocabulary, and so forth!

Here’s a great hack, though: Once you’ve learned something, make sure you use it numerous times in conversation with your native Afrikaans-speaker or Afrikaans tutor. Quick application is the best way to graft new knowledge into your gray matter. And the first sentence to learn in Afrikaans is definitely:

  • Hoe sê mens …?
    “How do you say …?”

Use this often and without hesitation!

Here, too, AfrikaansPod101 scores high. Everything you learn via our recorded and downloadable lessons is practical for real-life and applicable in numerous situations. This means that the topics aren’t obscure or out-there; they’re relevant and immediately usable!

Once you enroll, you’ll also get access to online apps for different devices that can help you learn Afrikaans on-the-go. That hour to and from work on the train or bus can be put to excellent use now.

Woman Reading Book on Bus

Also be sure to carry your free online Afrikaans dictionary with you everywhere. This way, you can easily look up vocabulary pertaining to your life and your world—most likely what the OPI tester will be questioning you on!

3- Intense and Frequent Trumps Classic Old School

Studying four hours a day for two months, instead of three to four hours a week for four months in a class, is more likely to get you better results. The intense everyday studying will more deeply imprint new information into your mind than the less-intense study schedule will. 

4- Talk Afrikaans – In Your Head

Become your own Afrikaans buddy by having Afrikaans conversations with yourself in your head all day, every day! This type of practicing can be great fun.

We all have a continuously running voice inside our heads, anyway; it can just as well be an Afrikaans one! It’s also a good way to discipline yourself to think in another language.

Conducting chats with yourself is also a good way to prepare for conversations you’ll very likely have in the future, if you intend to work or live among Afrikaans-speaking South Africans.

And when you’re alone, do it out loud with a recorder.

5- Record Yourself

Imagine yourself as a famous TV personality talking to an audience, and record your “live transmissions.” This way, you can hear yourself speak and, comparing it to a native speaker’s version, correct your own pronunciation mistakes.

The recordings could also be a nice tool to share with your AfrikaansPod101 tutor!

But studying doesn’t need to be all drudgery and work, work, work…

6- Afrikaans Movies, Radio & Audiobooks Galore

Engaging with recorded Afrikaans in creative, interesting media is not only a way to get to know the Afrikaner culture well; it’s also an effortless way to train your ear to the way natives speak.

Some learners even sleep with the recordings on; it’s said to help with unconscious learning.

Also, this study method is fun and entertaining. After all, young children learn a language by simply listening and observing (and trying the language themselves)!

7- Don’t Become Discouraged by Your Mistakes

Like a young child, be willing to make stupid and seemingly millions of mistakes when speaking Afrikaans, especially at first. Don’t let any failure discourage you.

Your tutor or Afrikaans friend will understand that you’re not on top of the language just yet, and will be very prepared to help. Also, don’t berate yourself; just stick with endless practicing. You’ll get to “proficient” sooner than you think!

D. Other Afrikaans Proficiency Tests Currently on Offer

There are a couple of other good Afrikaans tests available for different competencies, such as reading, writing, and listening. They tend to be on the more expensive side, but are also accredited and worth the money you spend. 

These tests appear to be mostly conducted on site, but at least one reading competency test can be ordered via the mail.

We recommend that you take a good look at their official sites, and follow the instructions indicated.

1) Foreign Language Achievement Testing Service (FLATS) is offered through the University of Central Florida, and at the time of writing, an Afrikaans reading test can be conducted in a paper/pencil format.

2) The New York University’s School of Professional Studies offers language testing services on site. Two types of Afrikaans exams are on offer, depending on your needs. These tests seem to be very thorough, and have a comprehensive guide available for better understanding.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve had any experience with these, or if you have any pressing questions about them. We will do our best to assist you!

Language Skills

2. More Reasons Why AfrikaansPod101 is an Excellent Choice for Preparing for OPIs!

As explained earlier, we’re well-geared to help you master this sonorous language for conversations. 

Using the latest in technology, such as our Afrikaans pronunciation app, you’ll have instant online access to thousands of recorded lessons. These are presented by friendly native speakers who let you hear exactly how the language is spoken. 

Enrollment opens a lifetime account, with numerous features (many of them free!), irrespective of the learning program you choose. These include the following tools to easily practice Afrikaans phrases and pronunciation:

1) An Afrikaans Key Phrases List: Quickly learn how to greet, introduce yourself, say no and yes—all of those important phrases and words!

2) Thousands of culturally relevant lessons, recorded and downloadable.

3) Themed and targeted vocabulary lists that don’t overwhelm because they’re disjointed and not related!

4) A Word a Day: To keep your memory jogging and fresh.

Afrikaans is a pleasant, easy language to learn and use, and is closely related to Dutch. Once you’ve mastered it, you’ll find Dutch very easy to master—two birds with one stone, almost! Don’t hesitate, and start learning Afrikaans online for free with AfrikaansPod101.com. Consider our website a complete guide to the Afrikaans language!

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