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  #1 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 12th, 2007, 08:24 am
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Default How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

I am Filipino. I teach Koreans in the Philippines. Our setting follows the Korean Hagwon system except that 90 percent of our classes are done one on one; and all the teachers are Filipinos. There are no Native Speakers. Classes run for one hour.

My Principal is asking me to make a test on speaking ability that will check whether the student has progressed after studying for two months. I have 1 year and 10 months of teaching experience but with no formal CELTA or TEFL training.

Here is our context:

1. The test will measure the speaking ability of the student after two months.

2. Within their two months of study, the students have only used reading books ex. True Stories Series by Sandra Heyer.The books are used to increase their reading and listening comprehension skills and their vocabulary range. All of their classes have been in one-on-one sessions. The natural communicative-interaction that happens in a one-on-one setting is the only communication pratice they get.

Since I assume that they are low Beginner students, they do not need to practice their speaking skills too much. Their first two months mostly focused on listening and basic responses. For this reason, I don't know which aspect of speaking I need to test and how simple the test should be? Will it be picture based? Will it be a simple oral comprehension test of a story? Will it be a simple interview?


3. I assume that each school has a different definition of a student's level. According to our school's implied standard, the test must be level specific because the students begin from various levels.

The test must target Low Beginniner to High Beginner students, and Low Intermediate to High Intermediate students.


4. I say implied because we still don't have any written description of a student's ability according to level. The teachers generally agree on a level according to our experience with students. Is this a natural thing to happen? Our Hagwon is quite young -barely two years old. Do other ESL teacher's do this? Do other ESL Language Schools have a written description, if yes, how can we make one?

5. I have tried studying the FCE (First Certificate in English) and the old TSE (Test of Spoken English) but I haven't taken any of these tests. So I am not confident to follow their format. Not only that, I don't know how they rate them.

How should we rate our students? Is there a standard speech ability rate available that most schools use?

The principal suggested that I take the TSE so that we can copy its format and style in our school's speech tests. We also thought of buying the SPEAK Kit from ETS: these are old TSE Exams including instructions on how to rate students. What do you think of these suggestions?

Has any of you purchased the SPEAK Kit and used in class?


I am totally in the dark; I have tried making my own, but, most of my creations are not effective.

I hope you can show me a sample and desribe some steps on how to do it.

Finally, given our school's youthfulness, our principal also plans on sending me to take the CELTA course either in Singapore or Korea; then after that, I need to train the teachers with what I got. I am an inexperienced teacher. I am confident to take the training but I am reluctant on training other teachers. I mean do other schools also do this -they send a teacher to study then he comes back and trains others? How successful will this kind of practice be?


Thanks alot!
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Unread Apr 12th, 2007, 09:14 pm
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

I suggest you look up the IELTS standards or the ALTE standards (www.alte.org) and use these to help you.


Quote:
Since I assume that they are low Beginner students, they do not need to practice their speaking skills too much
Ouch!!! They need to practice speaking as much as possible for many reasons. Even a low beginner, for example, can give a short presentation on his home:

"I live in a big house. My house has six rooms. It has a garden. The living room is very big..." etc

The other main thing is that to measure their progress, you need to give them a pre-course test and a post-course test to show the improvement. Ideally, these two tests would be the same.

Just off the top of my head, here's a format:

Part 1: Have a list of twenty basic questions (What is your favourite food?). Ask them 10 of these questions

Part 2: Ask them to speak for one minute or as long as they can on a simple topic (my home, my family, 3 things I like to do, etc)

Part 3: Roleplay a simple conversation with them (buying something in a store)
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  #3 (permalink)  
Unread Apr 12th, 2007, 11:10 pm
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

I assumed that the low-beginner students need not be pressured to speak early because I adhere to Stephen Krashen's Second Language Acquisition theory: which states that Comprehension precedes Production.

But you do have a point, they can do even simple speech.

Thanks alot.I will check the the website. I think the pre-test and post-test idea is good. We decided to voice-record these tests so that the student can observe for himself the improvements he has had.
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Unread Apr 15th, 2007, 11:36 pm
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

Yes, I would say inculcating an early speaking habit is good although I also agree with krashen somewhat.

Good luck with the tests
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Unread Aug 14th, 2007, 02:30 am
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

You face a difficult situation. Like the previous posters, I recommend looking at ALTE standards, practicing role playing, and maybe look at the revised OEIC test. Sometimes I had success asking students to bring in photographs and magazine ads to create conversations. The more relevant and important the subject, the bolder students become in speaking.

The problem of low-beginning ESL students avoiding conversation exists in the United States too. A decade ago, many citizenship applicants had - for worse or for better - a very limited speaking ability in English. Motivation matters.

Citizenship classes, therefore, had to focus on questions about the applicant's background, experiences in the United States, and hopes for the future. We also hugged the old N-400 form which asked dozens of questions. The problem, of course, was students wanted to just memorize questions and answers instead of learning enough English for an authentic, open-ended conversation with INS officials. Low standards - or very sympathetic INS officials - led to a continual decline in verbal requirements, but hundreds of thousands of immigrants did work on improving their conversation skills.

Anyway, good luck. Conversation counts - even for high beginning students.
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  #6 (permalink)  
Unread Aug 15th, 2007, 05:05 am
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

Maybe I'm misunderstanding something, but it seems very strange to me to test speaking ability if you're not giving them opportunities to speak during the two month course. Krashen or not, tests should generally cover what students have actually done during the course. To put it another way, if you're not trying to build their speaking skills during the first two months, why create a test to show progress?
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Unread Oct 19th, 2008, 12:46 am
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

Hi,

Your task is difficult for a number of reasons:
First of all, your schools needs to have at least one certified ESL native speaker.
It is normally this person who will design the and conduct speaking tests, interviews to determine proficiency level, etc.
Finally, since you have no native speakers on staff, your school cannot really teach pronunciation, which is really necessary for teaching speaking.
I am a Certified ESL Instructor who has has worked as an academic director and ESL consultant/instructor in Asian countries.
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  #8 (permalink)  
Unread Oct 19th, 2008, 09:09 am
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

I do not really agree with the last comment as to the need for native teachers - native from where? The Orkneys, Australia, the Bronx, Michigan, Idaho, Glasgow, Ardrossan, Sussex? Which accent, which lexis? With so many good materials online and to be bought, and such wide access to the mass media, native teachers are not the point any more. Teachers need good training to help students learn; of course they must provide a good linguistic model in all senses. The Common European Framework provides realistic goals for each of the stages of language acquisition (I agree with previos posts referring to ALTE etc.)
There are lots of speaking activities (individual and interactive) that can be carried out with starter or elementary level students. Moreover, they feel they are doing something with the language they are learning.
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Unread Oct 23rd, 2008, 11:30 pm
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Default Re: How to make a Student Progress Speaking Test

Have you considered videotaping a simple 60-90 speech sample for a pre-test and a post-test? You could have them introduce a classmate for the pretest and describe a picture, share a shopping tip, give a product review, or even a movie review for the post test. If you are looking to document student progress - for students, funders, or other purposes -, an actual videotape is quite useful.

Naturally, posting the videotapes so students and teachers can view the performances provides many educational opportunities. Students are often quite surprised at their actual appearance and speech. As ever, letting students gain a more objective view of their strengths and weaknesses has multiple advantages.
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