This month I have been thinking and reading a lot about assessment (maybe too much, which is why I’m not posting until the end of the month). In particular, I’ve been considering how teachers can best assess students’ speaking. In the literature, it seems that there are four good options that stand out to me for assessing speaking, including setting up role-plays, having students give presentations, doing interviews, or recorded speaking “tasks.” All of these assessment activities, if students have been provided ample time to practice, are set up well, and have clear grading criteria, can provide fairly accurate evaluation of speaking. In the end, teachers probably want to include a variety of more than one of these, in order to feel they have a complete assessment picture.
The main “puzzle” (there are several minor ones!) for me has been, what creates students’ buy-in (buy-in = support for an idea or plan) for speaking assessment? In other words, when are students excited to have their speaking assessed? So far, the best that I can come up with is that it depends. Of course, students are different, classes and contexts are not the same, and teachers are distinct. I’d like to know what teachers have done that has worked well and not worked well, in order to get students' buy-in. I’d like to know what students have experienced that has helped them “buy-in” or has caused them to resist. For example, if a teacher tells you that you have to speak for 2 to 3 minutes in front of the whole class (i.e. "present") about a person you admire, in order to assess your speaking, are you excited and motivated, do you support this plan? Or are there better alternatives?
1. Bailey, Kathleen. Learning About Language Assessment, 1998.
2. Hughes, Arthur. Testing for Language Teachers, 1989
3. O’Malley and Pierce. Authentic Assessment for English Language Learners, 1996.
4. Thornbury, Scott. How to Teaching Speaking, 2005
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