Presentation on theme: "Testing Spoken Language: recent developments, challenges and responses Nic Underhill Consultant in International Education and Assessment."— Presentation transcript:
Testing Spoken Language: recent developments, challenges and responses Nic Underhill Consultant in International Education and Assessment
This year we celebrate 100 years of face to face speaking tests The Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English was introduced in 1913 The test lasted 12 hours in total! The speaking test lasted one hour: reading aloud, conversation, dictation Today the speaking test is conducted with two candidates, and two examiners. It lasts 15 minutes.
English language Admissions tests used by universities -Certificate of Proficiency in English -Other standardised international tests such as IELTS, TOEIC, TOEFL -Some universities have their own admission tests: may be specific to one faculty, e.g. medicine or engineering. may be general English tests. -Some universities use their national school leaving examination as an admissions test. Usually this exam has no speaking test, so there is a negative washback (impact)
Recent developments 1: Use of common scales, for example CEFR Can Do statements (CEFR 2001)
Recent developments 2: Impact of technology – Computer-mediated: candidate speaks in response to prompt delivered via computer. Digital recording marked by human examiner (e.g. BULATS online) – Computer-marked: candidate speaks in response to prompt delivered via computer. Computer marks the response automatically. (e.g. PhonePass) – Mobile phones make it easier to collect the candidates spoken language
Recent developments 3: Schools are emphasizing speaking English for – Global citizenship and international communication: mobile phones, skype, video conferencing, access to internet resources – Access to English-medium higher education: Singapore, Malaysia, India, UAE, Holland, Scandinavia, as well as USA, Australia, UK. – bilingual education and an international curriculum
Recent developments 4: Thinking skills/critical thinking/21 st century skills – no common understanding what this means – for example: decision-making; creativity; innovation; collaboration; global awareness – There is only one 21 st century skill – problem solving. We need to produce people who know how to act when they are faced with situations for which they were not specifically prepared (Dylan Wiliam)
The challenges: speaking test design is a compromise Validity: how to elicit from the candidate the language that we want to measure? Reliability: how to get the same results for different candidates and different examiners? Impact: how to make sure that the test has a positive impact? Practicality: how to find the resources needed to administer and mark the tests quickly?
What are some solutions to these challenges? Validity: interaction in pairs or groups; series of short tasks with different focus. Reliability: rating scales; standardise test procedure; training for examiners Impact: carry out research into impact with candidates, teachers, parents Practicality: control administration and marking tightly; digital test recordings; use assessment in the classroom
Some examples of different activities for speaking – Making a presentation – Describing a picture or telling a picture story – Explaining your personal opinion – Working with a colleague to solve a problem together – Asking questions and giving answers – Giving instructions
EXAMPLE: Cambridge PET or FCE speaking test Video
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