The LPI, which stands for “Language Proficiency Test” is the test Peace Corps Volunteers take to get their language skills ranked and rated. There are a total of ten levels. In order to “pass” training, volunteers must get a score of at least “3” (Novice High). This rating varies from post to post but the standard is “4” (Intermediate Low). Bulgaria is lower because Bulgarian is a tougher language than say, French.

I’m writing about the LPI because last week I took the test again for the first time since MSC (Mid-Service Conference) in September. At that point, I had stalled at Intermediate Medium (“5”), the ranking I received at IST (In Service Training) in February of 2008. They say you need at least three month before advancing levels. What do these levels mean? Out side of completing PST (Pre-Service Training, the first thee months of PC service; before you become a volunteer) not much. Though if you plan on going to grad school, a government language assessment usually gets you out of the requirements. I took it again to see my progress as well as fulfill this prerequisite at my grad school.

I surprised myself and receive “Advanced Low” (“7”). The questions got much tougher. No more “describe what you do every day”. I got questions like “do you think Bulgaria entered the EU too early?”, “What can Bulgarians to do fight corruption?”. Yeah, no fluff there.

The description of “Advanced Low” do a really good job describing how  feel about my Bulgarian: Fluency within certain areas (for me this would be describing life in the US, my work, what I do everyday, etc) but trailing off with an expected twist or complex topic (say, how to defeat corruption in Bulgaria).

All in all, I’m impressed with how far my language has improved. I’ve gone from “I am a banana” to “I believe in some areas, Bulgaria joined the EU too early”. And this from a guy who too 12 semesters of Spanish.

So, for the B-25s fretting about the Bulgarian language: just worry about the Cyrillic alphabet for now (which, once you get the hang of, is super easy). The rest will be beaten into you. There is no escaping that. Also, you’re going to make an ass of yourself. Every day. The sooner you accept that, the more confident you’ll become and the faster you’ll be able to speak.



2 Responses to “LPI”

  1. Natalie Says:

    Wow! That’s really impressive! Good job, Jimmy!

  2. joe Says:

    “What can Bulgarians to do fight corruption”
    I guess you need to remove the “to”.

    Btw, I think Bulgarian (as well as German, and the Central European ones – Hungarian, Polish, Czech etc.) are extremely difficult to learn for a foreigner. Unlike Spanish + English. My personal explanation for this is that, throughout the centuries, those countries have been pretty tightly-knit communities, with foreigners among them constituting less than 1-5 % of the population. That’s probably how those languages evolved in a very original, peculiar manner of their own. Language was practically the dividing line against the outward world and something that united people inside the group.
    In contrast, the English/American and Spanish societies spanned several continents and conquered many different peoples. They became simpler, easier to use and learn by the natives.

    Sorry, I know I a bit of a language buff 🙂

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