How Best to Approach the ASLPI
Let's first consider an English test that requires you to write one page comparing and contrasting two topics. You will be writing about the topics provided, but for this assignment, your writing will be evaluated on the following:
- Range of vocabulary
- Use of grammar and complex sentences
- Structure of paragraphs (opening, supporting sentences, and closing)
- Clear comparison and contrast of the two topics
- Overall cohesion of the paper
The details you include in your paper may range from personal experiences to support your argument or you might take an historical and factual approach, if you have that knowledge. The bottom line is - the paper will be graded on your English writing skills.
Let's now turn to the ASLPI. Your language skills are measured via a range of topics discussed, from concrete to hypothetical. First and foremost, be confident with the skills that you have, knowing what you can do with the language, as well as having awareness of areas needing improvement. Know that language skills which are still developing will emerge and then evade you. That's the nature of second language learning. It is not until you master specific skills that they stay present.
On the day of your interview, bring the language skills you have. When you take the ASLPI, put all of your language skills "on the table." Demonstrate what you CAN DO with the language.
The interviewer will cover a range of topics with the goal of giving you every opportunity to show what you can do with the language. The topics may include something you have signed about before. There may also be topics that you have never signed about before. There are stories, events and topics you may feel comfortable signing about because you have practiced and rehearsed them. It is when random topics are raised that true ASL proficiency is identified which reveals skills that are mastered. Random topics will also reveal language aspects that are still emerging, or are not present at all.
You are not being evaluated on facts, data or knowledge on any given topic. Your responses will be what comes to mind from your own personal experience or perspective. There is no right or wrong answer. The goal is to show what you can do with the language.
Example #1 from an interview: The interviewer asked about how we could get more people to recycle. The examinee admitted that he did not personally recycle but the community does make an effort to keep the environment clean. For example, the community has doggy stations and bags are provided to pick up after pets. This moved the discussion to the area where the examinee lives and the layout of the community. This discussion provided a great opportunity for the examinee to demonstrate an array of language aspects.
Do not get hung up on the topic or question. There is no "right" answer. The interviewer is not looking for what the examinee knows about recycling. The interviewer's goal is to give each examinee every opportunity to use the language as proficiently as possible. Respond with what comes to mind.
Responses to questions might involve something you read, heard, discussed with someone, or how you feel about the topic. It might remind you of someone or something that personally happened. It does not matter. What is important is demonstrating through the interview your ASL skills no matter what topic comes up.
Example #2 from an interview: The examinee was asked if she could describe how to change a tire. She had never done that which she told the interviewer, but the examinee also responded that she could imagine what she would need to do. It gave her an opportunity to demonstrate an array of language aspects as she walked through the steps she thought would be taken if she did have to change a tire. Again, it's not about getting the actual steps right -- it's about language use and what she CAN DO with ASL.
In summary, the ASLPI is not about having facts and knowledge on a topic. The purpose of the ASLPI is to capture your highest proficiency level which is completely dependent upon the language skills that YOU bring to and demonstrate during the interview. Put all of your skills out there and do not be afraid that you don't know enough about any of the topics raised.
Remember: The purpose of ASLPI is to capture what you CAN DO with the language.