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Assessment for English Speaking & Listening

Dr. Jessie Huang

Micro skills vs. Macro skills Forms vs. Messages Accuracy vs. Fluency Communicative competence

Elements of Oral Proficiency

Fluency and coherence Lexical resource Grammatical range and accuracy Phonology: intonation, rhythm, pronunciation, discourse prosody

Fluency and coherence

Speak at length without

Mostly coherent expression of relevant ideas

loss of coherence
1.enough vocabulary to

Lexical resource

discuss at length 2.use paraphrase effectively 1.use complete structures

Effective use of vocabulary

Grammatical range and accuracy

2.produce error-free sentence

Effective use of grammar

Phonology: Intonation Rhythm pronunciation


speech is generally clear

can generally be
understood throughout

with some fluidity of expression 2. minor difficulties with pronunciation and may require listener effort at time

Testing: Oral Ability

Basic Types of Speaking

1. Imitative -the ability to simply parrot back (imitate) a word or phrase or possibly a sentence -a focus only on pronunciation; no inferences are made about the test-takers ability to understand or convey meaning or to participate in an interactive conversation

Basic Types of Speaking

2. Intensive -the production of short stretches of oral language in a narrow band of grammatical, phrasal, lexical, or phonological relationships -assessment tasks of speaking: directed response tasks, reading aloud, sentence and dialogue completion, limited picture-cued tasks

Basic Types of Speaking

3. Responsive -assessment tasks of speaking: very short conversations, standard greetings and small talk, simple requests and comments and the like.

Basic Types of Speaking

4. Interactive -the difference between responsive and interactive speaking is the length and complexity of the interaction -interaction including two forms a.Transactional language b.Interpersonal exchanges

Example of transactional language

A. Mary: Excuse me, do you have the time? Doug: Yeah. Nine-fifteen. T: What is the most urgent environmental problem today? S : I would say massive deforestation.

Example of interpersonal exchanges

Jeff : Stef: Jeff: Stef: Hey, Stef, hows it going? Not bad, and yourself? Im good. Cool. Okay, gotta go.

Basic Types of Speaking

5. Extensive (monologue) - speeches, oral presentations and story-telling -language style: deliberative and foraml but certain informal monologues cannot be ruled out, such as casually delivered speech (jokes)

Designing Assessment Tasks

1. Imitative Speaking
1. Word repetition task 2. PhonePass test

Example of word repetition task

Test-takers hear: Repeat after me:
beat [pause] bit [pause] bat [pause] vat [pause] etc. I bought a boat yesterday. The glow of the candle is growing. When did they go on vacation? Do you like coffee? etc. Test-takers repeat the stimulus.


PhonePass test specifications

Part A: Test-takers read aloud selected sentences from among those printed on the test sheet. Examples: 1. Traffic is a huge problem in Southern California. 2. The endless city has no coherent mass transit system. 3. Sharing rides was going to be the solution to rush-hour traffic. 4. Most people still want to drive their own cars, though. Part B: Test-takers repeat sentences dictated over the phone. Examples: Leave town on the next train.

PhonePass test specifications

Part C: Test-takers answer questions with a single word or a short phrase of two or three words. Example: Would you get water from a bottle or a newspaper? Part D: Test-takers hear three word groups in random order and must link them in a correctly ordered sentence. Example: was reading/ my mother/ a magzine. Part E: Test-takers have 30 seconds to talk about their opinion about some topic that is dictated over the phone. Topics center on family, preferences, and choices.

2. Intensive Speaking
Test-takers are prompted to produce short stretches of discourse through which they demonstrate linguistic ability at a specified level of language Many tasks are cued tasks in that they lead the test-taker into a narrow band of posibilities

2. Intensive Speaking
a. Directed Response Tasks b. Read-Aloud Tasks c. Sentence/Dialogue Completion Tasks and Oral Questionnairs d. Picture-Cued Tasks e. Translation (of limited stretches of discourse)

a. Directed response tasks

Test-takers will hear:
Tell me he went home. Tell me that you like rock music. Remind him what time it is. (Note: Such tasks are clearly mechanical and not communicative, but they do require minimal processing of meaning in order to produce the correct grammatical output.)

b. Read-Aloud Tasks
Read-aloud stimulus, paragragh length
Despite the decrease in sizeand, some would say, quality of our cultural world, there still remain strong differences between the usual British and American writing styles. The question is, how do you get your message across? English prose conveys its most novel ideas as if they were timeless truths, while American writing exaggerates; if you believe half of what is said, thats enough. The former uses understatement; the later, overstatement. There are also disadvantages to each characteristic approach. Readers who are used to being screamed at may not listen when someone chooses to whisper politely. At the same time, the individual who is used to a quiet manner may reject a series of loud imperatives.

(Note: Reading aloud calls on certain specialized oral abilities that may not indicate ones pragmatic ability to communicate orally in face-to-face contexts.)

c. Sentence/Dialogue Completion Tasks and Oral Questionnairs

Directed response tasks Test-takers see: Interviewer: What did you do last weekend? Test-taker : ___________________________. Interviewer: What will you do after you graduate from this program? Test-taker : ___________________________. Interviewer: ___________________________? Test-taker : I was in Japan for two weeks. Test-takers respond with appropriate lines. (Note: Its reliance on literacy and an ability to transfer easily from written to spoken English.)

d. Pictured-Cued Tasks
It can be very simple, designed to elicit a word or a phrase. Picture-cued elicitation of minimal pairs Test-takers see:

Test-takers hear: What is this?

d. Pictured-Cued Tasks
Grammatical categories may be cued by pictures.

Test-takers hear: Use a comparative form to compare these objects.

e. Translation
a. Test-taker is given a native language word, phrase or sentence and is asked to translate it. b. Conditions may be varied from expecting an instant translation of an orally elicited linguistic target to allowing more thinking time before producing a translation of somewhat longer texts, which may optionally be offered to the test-taker in written form.

3. Responsive Speaking
1. Question and answer
Display questions Referential questions

Giving Instructions and Directions Paraphrasing Test of Spoken English (TSE)-used by many North American institutions or higher education to select international teaching assistants

4. Interactive Speaking
a. Interview (contains a number of mandatory stages, Michael Canale, 1984) Warm-up Level check Probe Wind-down b. Role Play c. Discussions and Conversations d. Games e. Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

Oral interview content specifications

Warm-up: 1. Small talk Level check: The test-taker... 2. Answers wh-questions 3. Produces a narrative without interruptions. 4. Reads a passage aloud. 5. Tells how to make something or do something. 6. Engages in a brief, controlled, guided role play. Prob: The test-taker... 7. Responds to interviewers questions about something the test-taker doesnt know and is planning to include in an article or paper. 8. Talks about his or her own field of study or profession. 9. Engages in a longer, more open-ended role play (for example, simulates a difficult or embarrasing circumstance) with the interviweer. 10. Gives an impromptu presentation on some aspect of test-takers field. Wind-down: 11. Feelings about the interview, information on results, further questions.

Assessment games Example

City maps are distributed to class members. Predetermined map directions are given to one student who, with a city map in front of him or her, describes the route to a partner, who must then trace the route and get to the correct final destination.

Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI)

American Council of Teaching Foreign Languages (ACTFL) OPI
Producer: American Council on Teaching Foreign Languages, Yonkers, NY Objective: To test oral production skills of speakers in 37 different foreign languages Primary market: Certification of speakers for government personnel and employees in the workplace; evaluation of students in language programs

Type: Oral interview telephoned or in person

Response modes: Oral production in a variety of genres and tasks Specifications: Personalized question geared to the test-takers interests and experiences; a variety of communication tasks designed to gauge the test-takers upper limits; role play

Time allocation: 30-40 minutes

Internet access: Http://

5. Extensive Speaking
a. Oral Presentations b. Picture-Cued Story-Telling c. Retelling a Story, News Event d. Translation (of Extended Prose)

Oral Presentations
Rules for effective assessment must be involved: (1) Specify the criterion (2) Set appropriate tasks (3) Elicit optimal output (4) Establish practical, reliable scoring procedure

Picture-Cued Story-Telling
1. Through visual pictures, photographs, diagrams, and charts 2. At this level a picture or a series of pictures as a stimulus for a longer story or description is considered.

Retelling a Story, News Event

1. Test-takers hear or read a story or news event thta they are asked to recall.

Translation (of Extended Prose)

1. Text forms: Dialogue, directions for assembly of a product, a synopsis of a story or play or movie, directions on how to find something on a map, and other genres.

Testing Listening

What makes listening difficult?

Clustering Redundancy Reduced forms Performance variables Colloquial language Rate of delivery Stress, rhythm, and intonations Interaction

Process of Listening

Recognize speech sounds and hold a temporary imprint of them in short-term memory Simultaneously determine the type of speech event Use bottom-up liguistic decoding skills and/or (top-down) background schemata to bring a plausible interpretation to the message, and assign in a literal and intended meaning to the utterance

Each of these stages represents a potential assessment objective

Comprehending of surface structure elements Understanding of pragmatic context Determining meaning of auditory input Developing the gist, a global or comprehensive understanding

Types of Listening

Types of listening
1. Intensive -Listening for perception of the components of a larger stretch of language 2. Responsive -Listening to a relatively short stretch of language in order to make an equally short response

Types of listening
3. Selctive -Processing stretches of discourse such as monologues for several minutes in order to scan for certain information -be able to comprehend designated information in a context of longer stretches of spoken language

Types of listening
4. Extensive -listening to develop a top-down, global understanding od spoken language -ranges from listening to lengthy lectures to listening to a conversation and deriving a comprehensive message or purpose -listening for the gist, for the main idea, and making inferences

Designing Assessment Tasks

1. Intensive listening
a. Recognizing Phonological and Morphological Elements b. Paraphrase Recognition

a. Recognizing Phonological and Morphological Elements

Phonemic pair, consonants
Test-takers hear: Hes from California. Test-takers read: (a) Hes from California. (b) Shes from California.

Phonemic pair, vowels

Test-takers hear: Is he living? Test-takers read: (a) Is he leaving? (b) Is he living?

a. Recognizing Phonological and Morphological Elements

Morphological pair, -ed ending
Test-takers hear: I missed you very much. Test-takers read: (a) I missed you very much. (b) I miss you very much.

b. Paraphrase Recognition
Sentence paraphrase
Test-takers hear: Hello, my names Keilo. I come from Japan. Test-takers read: (a) Keiko is comfortable in Japan. (b) Keiko wants to come to Japan. (c) Keiko is Japanese. (d) Keiko likes Japan.

b. Paraphrase Recognition
Dialogue paraphrase
Test-takers hear: Man: Hi, Maria, my names George. Woman: Nice to meet you, George. Are you American? Man: No, I am Canadian. Test-takers read: (a) George lives in the United States. (b) George is American (c) George comes from Canada. (d) Maria is Canadian.

2. Responsive listening
a. Question-and-answer b. Open-ended Framework

a. Question-and-answer

Appropriate response to a question

Test-takers hear: How much time did you take to do your homework? Test-takers read: (a) In about an hour. (b) About an hour. (c) About $10. (d) Yes, I did.

b. Open-ended Framework
Open-ended response to a question
Test-takers hear: How much time did you take to do your homework? Test-takers write or speak: ________________________________________

3. Selective listening
a. Listening Cloze b. Information Transfer c. Sentence Repetition

4. Extensive listening
1. Dictation 2. Communicative Stimulus-Response Tasks 3. Authentic Listening Tasks
a. Note-taking b. Editing c. Interpretation tasks d. Retelling

Contact: Dr. Hui-Ling Huang