Frequently Asked Questions
Testing for ACTFL:
Who is ACTFL?
 The American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) is an individual membership organization of more than 12,500 language educators and administrators from elementary through graduate education, as well as government and industry. ACTFL is dedicated to the improvement and expansion of the teaching and learning of all languages at all levels of instruction.

In addition to providing advocacy and support to individuals in the foreign language teaching profession, ACTFL has a history of over two decades of involvement in language testing and training of language testers. A test that ACTFL uses to assess language proficiency is the Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI). The OPI has become a nationally recognized method of assessing spoken language ability. The test accesses what a speaker can do with the language, rather than focusing on the structures and abstract vocabulary that a speaker knows. The test is administered by an ACTFL certified tester and rated (graded) by a second certified tester. The purpose of your involvement in the ILR OPI Tester Training Program is to become an ACTFL certified ILR OPI tester

What is the ILR and the OPI?

 ACTFL/ILR OPI training prepares qualified individuals to administer and rate oral proficiency interviews using the U.S. government’s Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) scale. The Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) is an unfunded Federal interagency organization. ILR was established to coordinate and share information about language-related activities at the Federal level. It serves as the premier way for departments and agencies across the Federal government to stay updated on progress and implementation of techniques/technology for language learning, use, testing, and other language-related activities. The ILR scale assesses language proficiency from levels 0 though 5. The information provided by these assessments helps assure that US government personnel worldwide have the language skills necessary to perform their jobs.
The Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) is a standardized procedure for the holistic assessment of functional speaking ability. It is an interview between a certified tester and an examinee. The OPI determines how well a person speaks a language by comparing the examinee performance of specific communication tasks with the criteria described in the ILR skill descriptors for speaking. The OPI takes the form of a carefully structured conversation between a trained, certified interviewer and the person whose speaking proficiency is being assessed. The interview is interactive and continuously adapts to the speaking abilities of the individual being tested. The topics discussed during the interview are based on the interests and experiences of each test candidate. Through a series of personalized questions, the interviewer elicits from the examinee examples of his or her ability to handle the communication tasks specified for each level of proficiency. This elicitation establishes a clear 'floor' and 'ceiling' of consistent functional ability. Often candidates are asked to take part in a role-play. This task provides the opportunity for linguistic functions not easily elicited through the conversational format.
What does one do as a tester?
 You will conduct Oral Proficiency Interviews over the telephone from your home. It is expected that testers have a landline telephone, high speed internet access, aptitude for technology, and respect for deadlines. The test is conducted through a structured interview format where you, the tester, ask the testee to perform certain tasks with language so that you can assign a rating (or level) to his/her proficiency.

How many testers does ACTFL currently have and in how many languages?

ACTFL presently has over 300 testers in more than 60 languages. All testers are freelance contractors who work from their homes across the United States.


When does this "project" start and until when will it continue?

OPI testing is not a project at ACTFL, but rather something that we have been involved in for over 25 years. We have been working with the government to conduct ILR OPI testing since 2002 and expect to continue this work indefinitely. Many of our testers have been with us for many years. Continued ILR OPI testing work is contingent upon receipt of continued funding.



What qualification is most important for this opportunity?

In addition to educational and professional experience qualifications, ACTFL is seeking testers with ongoing, long term availability between the hours of 9AM - 3PM (eastern time) Monday - Friday.


How much will I be paid once certified as a tester?
Testers are paid as 1099 contractors on a per test basis. Certified testers conduct tests as independent consultants for the ACTFL testing office. Payment is based on the current rates of ACTFL's affiliate testing office.

How long does the average OPI take to administer?
An OPI can last between 15 and 40 minutes, depending on the level.
How much work will I get from this?
If you are seeking an opportunity that provides steady income, then this is probably not a good match for you. Most testers get five or less hours of work per month. We are unable to guarantee a minimum number of tests per month.


Why should I do this if I am not going to make a lot of money from it?

Testing for ACTFL is an opportunity to become involved in the work of a highly recognized foreign language organization. It is also an opportunity to meet language professional from diverse language backgrounds, to develop new skills, and to use your language proficiency in new ways.


Will this position lead to other work with ACTFL?

This opportunity generally does not lead to full time employment with ACTFL, however it could lead to additional freelance opportunities.


Training Process:
 What is involved in the training process and will I be paid for it?
Trainees attend workshops and complete a homework assignments to demonstrate mastery of concepts. Trainees also complete a qualification assignments as needed. The entire training process takes several months. Payment for attending the training (if applicable) will be outlined when training dates are scheduled. The training workshops are typically held in New York. ACTFL covers all expenses for trainees to attend, including air transportation and hotel accommodations.  
 When will the training be?
ILR OPI Training Workshops are only held when testing needs increase or when vacancies occur. Please contact Julia Ruane, Project Coordinator, at for more information about upcoming training opportunities for your language.
Do all trainees become certified testers?
No. Once trainees complete the onsite training and certification (homework) assignments, your entire training performance is evaluated by our ILR board and a decision is made as to whether or not you will be granted certification as a tester.
Training related travel and logistics:
How and when do I make my travel arrangements?
You will be directed on how to make travel arrangements once accepted to attend the training. Travel arrangements are made at no out-of-pocket expense to you. Once you return your contract you will be given instructions on how to make your transportation (air or train) arrangements. ACTFL will make your hotel reservations. Trainees stay at the same hotel where training is being held. In addition, ACTFL will arrange ground transportation to get you from your point of arrival to the location of training. Trainees who live locally may drive their personal cars to the location of training.  

What happens if I need to change my training dates or cancel after I have made travel arrangements?
Once confirmed, airline tickets are non-refundable and non-changeable.  ACTFL reserves the right to  hold you financially responsible for changes fees or, in cases of cancellation, the full cost of your tickets.
Where is the training held?
You will be notified of where your specific workshop section is being held.
What is the daily schedule?
Trainings typically follow a 9am-5pm daily schedule. An agenda will be available once you have been accepted to attend the training.
Are meals provided during training?
Breakfast and lunch are provided on all days.  Dinner is available for purchase either inside the hotel or at local restaurants within walking distance. A per diem stipend is available for any meal(s) not provided by ACTFL.
What is the dress code?
Business dress is expected. Jeans are not suggested.
What are considered reimbursable expenses and how do I get them paid?
ACTFL will reimburse you for expenses incurred in order to get to training. This includes parking or taxi fees from your hotel to your point of departure as well as from there back to your home. You must save these receipts and submit the originals for reimbursement. Faxes and copies are not acceptable. For trainees who are driving to the workshops (versus flying, taking AMTRAK, etc.) personal car miles are reimbursed at the current IRS business rate. ACTFL does not reimburse for rental car expenditures. For those arriving via Metro North or other local public transportation, please save your receipts and claim them on your travel and expense report. You do not need to save meal receipts, as this will be covered with a per diem stipend. ACTFL will provide the form on which to claim these expenses.
Can I bring family members/guests? Can I arrive before training begins / stay longer following training?
Usually no, however exceptions are made in rare cases. Please contact ACTFL staff for approval. 

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