So I had my pre-NSLI-Y OPI (Oral Proficiency Interview) today. . . OPIs are conducted in the target language and last between 15-45 minutes. They cover a variety of topics and often include a skit that you have to act in.
For mine, the interview started 52 minutes late (no comment was made about this so I would definitely recommend blocking out at least an hour and a half around the scheduled time), and ended up being pretty basic. I did a little bit of an introduction and talked a bit about school and hobbies (mainly work). Even though all of the questions were pretty simple, I felt at a loss of words for much of the interview. In previous OPIs, the “interview” was more like a conversation with follow up questions; this time not so much. Or there were follow up questions, but they were on points which I definitely wouldn’t have focused on otherwise. (For example, I said I took a Creative Writing class, the interviewer asked me to describe in detail the plot of a fantasy story that I wrote- lack of vocabulary definitely had me stuttering here 哎呦). I also self-corrected my grammar a lot, and I think my tones could have used improvement. The OPI ended with a skit about going to the police to report a pickpocket.
In all the OPI lasted about 25 minutes, and though it wasn’t terrible, I can’t help but be a little bit annoyed at myself for not doing as well as I think I’m capable of. Overall I feel like my Chinese came out sounding really clunky and stilted, even though normally I’m pretty comfortable having conversations in Chinese (even on more complex topics). That’s alright though; the OPI is really just a benchmark for NSLI-Y administrators, and doesn’t have a large personal impact, if any. Actual language placement will be done later through testing by the host institutions (and there will be PLENTY of that later) and is always subject to change, so I’m not worried. Plus, the lower I start off now, the more improvement I can have later, right? 中文同學們：一起加油一起努力吧! (最後，要是你有一個OPI，加油吧！我祝你好！）