View Full Version : High School Speaking Test Ideas Needed

September 28th, 2015, 11:26
I teach in a commercial high school I basically have free reign over my classes. The only condition is that I have two speaking tests per term, six total. My first year the teachers told me what the speaking test should be over (mostly just memorizing a conversation activity from the book and reciting it with tiny variations). Now the tests can be whatever I want, so I have been trying to do activities where the students have to produce things on their own, but I'm running out of ideas, any are welcome. Some examples of the 1st years' speaking test:

Give a brief explanation of what the kanji in your name mean.
Write and perform a short skit of you inviting your partner to do an activity over the phone.
Work in groups to plan the perfect 2nd year trip.

For all of these I gave them a skeleton script where they had to fill in information and memorize it. I need suggestions for 1st and 2nd years, if anyone has them.

September 28th, 2015, 11:34
Speaking tests should always be over (or directly related to) what they learned in the term. Incorporating things you covered and grammar/structures the JTE covered is best. (You can incorporate them in your scripts, if you like.)

Skits are never really fair, it is too dependent on the partner. Shit partners throw you off-rhythm. Same goes for groups.

If you want to have them work on something long term, have them do the planning together and then interview them about it seperately.

How low-level are we talking? Can they answer the basic introductory questions?

September 28th, 2015, 11:39
Skits have actually gone really well. And since we grade on the student and not the pair as a whole, the students tend to do pretty well on those. While I work with the JTEs and try to connect the speaking test in some ways to the books, I'm sometimes at a complete loss. For example, the 1st years are currently in lesson 4 of English Now I which deals with the grammar point, "It is important to do naninani." I would like to do a basic interview them about what they think is interesting or not, but some of them can barely string a sentence together.

They can answer very basic questions without a script, but most of the time they are completely lost if they don't have something to memorize.

September 29th, 2015, 08:30
For specific grammer points like 'It is important (for) infinitive' I've had some success at 3rd year JHS level with giving them a topic and having them make a few sentences about something (like 'important to study,' or 'fun to play soccer' etc) and giving reasons why. You could probably do some variation of that. Give them a list of possibilities and have them write a paragraph of speech, then ask them a question or two. You'll grasp fairly easily if they've studied the material and if they've internalized it and can use it.

September 29th, 2015, 14:37
I think you should take a step back and ask yourself (or your coworker) where are you goals?
Are you trying to get them to spontaneously speak? (known english for communication)
Is this topically based? (Content/vocabulary verification)
Is this structurally focused? (Grammar/phrasal structures in context?)
Is this verification? (Learned pattern responses)
Is this situationally based? (Scenario pattern understanding and interaction?)

From these points it's easier to design a test that matches what you actually taught. Also, you haven't filled us in on your student's level. I have HS students who haven't mastered JHS year 1, and SHS 1st years who could hold an hour conversation on the local varieties of ramen.

September 29th, 2015, 15:13
Sorry it has taken a while to respond. Busy.

Pulled the textbook from the shelf. (We keep a library of all the SHS and some JHS textbooks.) It's pretty shit. You have my sympathies.

What I'd do:
Assuming you use the textbook, the conversation bits can give you clues for this kind of thing. (p 45 in the teacher's ed. I'm looking at now.)

A: Can you ======?
B: Yes / No, it is (easy / difficult / impossible) because =======.
A: It's ======== for me, too.

That can be the core of your conversations. Take the stilted stuff they give you, give it an ALT flair for naturalness -without- stripping the primary grammar points away. (The final "I think so" makes no fucking sense, toss that.) Spend part of the term giving them vocabulary and concepts that fit into that kind of conversation. Opinions about skills, hobbies, etc.