Peace Corps Ukraine: The LPI

So unknown to some the last week of PST is kind of like finals in college. The big "test" at the helm is the LPI ( Language proficiency interview). This test determines our proficiency in the language, like the name states. It really isn't as bad as it sounds.

Prior to your first actual LPI you have a mock LPI at PST university. They don't give you your scores for this but they give you about a 10 minute version. This is mostly so you can get used to the format of the LPI.

We had our LPI at the business center where we have a lot of our mini hub meetings. The village people had theirs in their LCF's house and 2 city clusters had the same. I wouldn't really say I studied for the test itself because the real point of it is to gauge where you are with the language and then at each subsequent LPI you can see how much you have improved.

The format of the LPI is as follows. You start with maybe 10 minutes of free flowing conversation, questions about your life and your family ect. They do a good job of maxing out your vocabulary. Your tester will ask you questions about things you've stated and they get harder and harder until you're maxed and can't go anymore. After that, you are handed a card with an English scenario and you have to role play the situation with the tester.

They record the whole thing and then over the next week determine you ability. I've heard at swearing in we are given an envelope with our ability level in it. I don't think there will be a point to share it with people because the only thing it does is track your progress. You can request to retake them and you have a few more during your service so it will be exciting to continue to see the growth of the language.

I think the key to the LPI is to not think of it like a final or really a test at all but as a bench mark to see where you started and where you will go. I can't wait to look back in a year on my language skills and see how much I have improved.

Some people prepped speeches and things like that before but I didn't want to prepare anything specific because I wanted a true test of my off the cuff language skills.

In truth, I've gotten down on myself about my language skills because my training cluster all have extensive language back grounds and I have to work really hard to keep up. But then I think about all the I can do and how little time I've actual been here. While it feels like a life time, I've only been learning the language for 2 and a half months. I can successfully order in Ukrainian, ask for directions, talk about my family and my hobbies.

I know more Ukrainian now than I do of Spanish which I took for 5 years in school. I know that with hard work and patience the language will come and that the LPI will help me track that progress.

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