The thing about the OPI – the stupid and elitist Oral Proficiency Interview – is how it is “old school” like the IB/AP exams are for the kids – they measure how much vocabulary you have, etc. and they don’t really bring into consideration that, even if your abilities in the language are low, intermediate or whatever, the thing that really counts in a language teacher is how much they enjoy teaching it and how much the kids enjoy learning it. This is because we have, according to the research, only a *fraction of the time* needed in terms of hours to get any real gains. So what the OPI does is create the illusion in the minds of high school teachers that they are, yet again, not good enough in the eyes of some kind of governing body, usually based in universities. It’s just another way that people in charge have to judge us. I condemn this practice in defense of my colleagues who already work harder than the wusses and pusillanimous show-offs who judge them. These OPI/AP/IB elitists are dividing our schools down economic and racial lines, making teachers focus on the best in order to “look good”. Usually the white kids succeed in that movie, right? So the AP exam becomes some kind of final indicator of success. But what about the slower processors who are according to the research just as capable of gaining fluency, the only factor being time? Elitism is alive and well in WL education. So why even do the OPI? No matter how little teachers know, they know more than the kids, so what’s the big deal if they aren’t fluent? They need to know how to teach it, not be perfect at it. Most of all, they need the joy which transfers into the hearts of the kids and then the kids want to learn more. It’s not about how much vocabulary or how “well” the teacher speaks, but how much joy there is in the classroom. That is not an idle comment, but one born of four decades of not feeling good enough in the classroom, that someone would find out that Ben is not an expert at French. It’s not about student gains in the language, then. I once took an OPI in French like a really really long time ago and this snitty young PhD at the University of South Carolina – and I was only a high school teacher – asked me what I would do if I were going to a job interview and found a small hole in my sport jacket. Well I was new to French back then and had been trained w verb conjugations. I simply didn’t have the vocabulary to answer it and got a low score. I wanted to quit. But I loved French so much that I kept going. I wonder how much the OPI and AP/IB threats and judgements have actually helped our profession. When is that model of judging how much someone knows going to go away? How do the OPI and the AP/IB exams help our students? I was an AP French Lang and Lit teacher for 24 years before I met Susan Gross in 2001 and all it did for me was make me nervous as hell. That model of judging, passing judgement on others is about to fall, like so many other things that have been accepted in American society, quietly destroying lives but now are falling to the ground because they must fall because it is time for it all to fall, all the judgement of each other. Now, as I see it, it’s about empowerment and fun and permission-giving, not judging. THEN the kids will learn. It’s a new time now, and so we must teach in a new way so we can have more fun at it! We don’t need to feel judged bc we weren’t born in that country. Screw that.