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Michigan’s Oral Proficiency Requirement for Teachers of World Languages

The Michigan Department of Education (MDE) requires that all teacher candidates pass the Michigan Test for Teacher Certification (MTTC) for each subject area in which they wish to become certified (e.g., their teaching majors and minors). In addition to passing the MTTC, candidates wishing to become certified to teach world languages are required to meet oral proficiency standards. As of May 1, 2010, candidates can no longer be recommended for certification in a world language unless they have met the oral proficiency standard established by the MDE for that language.

The requirement also has implications for MSU's teaching internship. Secondary education students with world language majors must meet the standard as a condition for progressing to the internship. Secondary education students with world language minors and elementary education students with world language majors or minors may progress to the internship, but certification to teach the language will not appear on the teaching certificate unless they have met the standard.

At MSU, oral proficiency testing is administered by the Center for Language Teaching Advancement (CeLTA). Students will find information about scheduling testing appointments and improving their oral proficiency on the CeLTA website.

The scale used to measure oral proficiency is taken from the “ACTFL” test administered by the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages. There are ten levels on the scale; please see for a description of each. The Michigan Department of Education requires candidates who wish to teach French, German, Italian, Latin or Spanish to demonstrate an “Advanced-Low” level of proficiency. Candidates who wish to teach Arabic, Chinese, Japanese or Russian must demonstrate an “Intermediate-High” level of proficiency to become certified.

Oral proficiency can be demonstrated by meeting the required standard on several different measures, including one developed at MSU called the “Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview” or SOPI. It is important to note that there is a short version and a long version of the SOPI. Individuals seeking teacher certification must demonstrate proficiency on the long version. Proficiency demonstrated on the short version is not acceptable for certification.

All of the proficiency measures approved by the MDE are variations onor simulations ofthe more widely recognized ACTFL test. For students who plan to teach in other states or do something other than teach their language, the ACTFL might be a better choice. In either case, it is important to make testing arrangements through CeLTA and to have official results sent directly to MSU. Results sent to the student from the testing company are not considered official and cannot be accepted.

Language Proficiency: Tips and Resources for Teacher Candidates

For more information about the ACTFL test, visit: