Too Many Voices: Problems and Solutions in Assessing Speaking with Young Learners
The hardest thing about assessing speaking is finding time to hear everyone: too many voices and only one listener! Especially in large classes, it seems impossible to set tasks that adequately increase our knowledge of learner skills in class time. However, we can use peer assessment, coupled with learner training, to support our understanding of individual productive abilities. Not only does this help us gauge the progress made by students, but by improving their comprehension of what we look for when assessing, we help their learning move forward too: it's the difference between assessment for, of, and as learning.
This practical session includes some simple tasks to establish what common difficulties teachers share in conducting speaking assessments; to think about what we hope to achieve, and whether there's a difference between formative and summative assessment here; and to enhance our understanding of how to plan and design tools and techniques to help us in our goals: assessing speaking and promoting 'learning to learn' strategies to improve scores. We look at how these can be applied to different life-stages, from low-stakes early primary tasks through to preparation for higher stakes exams, like IELTS. We discuss what exactly we need to test, how to train our students to do the listening for us, and the value of repetition.
Participants will leave with a better understanding of why and how we analyse learners' oral production, and with some immediately applicable ideas for using these techniques with their classes. And they'll have fun!