The language proficiency interview (LPI) was developed to evaluate oral skills and communicative competency. The Peace Corps uses this interviewing technique to evaluate the language level of volunteers when they enter the country, at the end of their three month training cycle and finally at the end of their two year service. The interview lasts about 30 minutes and during this time it is important to use a wide range of vocabulary, speak with fluidity and use verb tenses correctly.
There are four major levels of Spanish Proficiency with many subdivisions. They look a little something like this:
Advanced-Mid (level now!)
Novice-Low (starting level)
When I got to Nicaragua, I was at Novice Low. I could say “hello, how are you?” and I could identify various objects around the room. It was nearly impossible for me to form sentences unless I had memorized them previously. I was in the lowest level possible.
After 1 ½ months of intensive language training and countless emotional break downs I had advanced to Novice High. At the end of the 3 month training cycle, I had advanced just a little more to Intermediate Low. I still made a ridiculous amount of errors and needed to continue studying to be fluent enough to be successful in a work environment. When I started work in my site I looked for someone in my town that could teach me Spanish. That is when I found Claudia, whom is now one of my best friends in the entire world. I spent much of my first 3 months in site at Claudia’s house as she corrected my grammar and taught me a lot about the Nicaraguan culture. After a while, we began to chat about whatever topic was on our minds, laughing and cracking jokes. From then on, I had tried to speak Spanish the most/best I could.
Yesterday, two years into my Peace Corps experience, I took my final Language Proficiency Interview. I was incredibly nervous, yet seemed to keep my calm as I spoke about a variety of topics with the interviewer. Unsure of how I had done on the interview, I could hardly wait until today to find out my final level. I was hoping for Advanced-Low. Today, I received my level. I am an Advanced-Mid Level Spanish Speaker! I have jumped 7 levels! CRAZY!!!!!!!!!!
Cheers to all of us who have come so far! You can do ANYTHING if you put your mind to it!