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Thread: Speaking tests

  1. #1
    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Speaking tests

    How do you all evaluate speaking? I'm working on making a test for the end of the year for my JHS first years. We've done speaking tests before, but I feel that they're not really good enough as tests. The first two tests I did a one-on-one interview with the students with 5 questions, 3 about themselves and 2 about a picture, and scored them based on the accuracy of their answers, along with pronunciation, communication abilities (i.e., proper eye contact, ability to ask for repetition or use simpler words to explain things), and attitude. The tests that way took too long per student (about 8 minutes each), and I was told that I need to do it so the whole class of 24 kids can be done in an hour. Last time, I tried to do a group test, with groups of 4 kids in the room with each kid having individual questions, and it was a disaster. So, this time I want to do an actual, decent test. I know that it really should take more than an hour to properly assess the kids, but that's all the time I've been given to work with. One JTE suggested a group discussion style test, but I have never done anything like that nor have the kids actually done any kind of discussion in class. Last time, I tried to do a reading task and have them describe a picture with mixed success. I thought about doing a role-play, but if they tell me I have to do it in groups again, I don't really know how to score it properly.

  2. #2
    Billy Big Bollocks Ini's Avatar
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    Default Re: Speaking tests

    Whatever you do it'll be a lot easier to video it and evaluate it later rather than panically trying to jot down arbitrary scores in the middle of any group work.
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  3. #3
    The Sun's Bird God..what? Zolrak 22's Avatar
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    Default Re: Speaking tests

    They are even pairs, why not something like a short interview?

    12 pairs, giving each 5 minutes.
    Short and simple questions/answers?

  4. #4
    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Re: Speaking tests

    Ini- I have been taking video when I do tests, and it's been a lifesaver. The group problem is just how to evaluate each individual in a fair, subjective way. This is also the same if I did it in pairs, though that's a good idea.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Speaking tests

    The way I look at it is that the grades don't really matter, it's the experience of them writing something, memorizing it and performing it in English that is valuable. Of course you tell them it counts towards their grades but it's hardly likely to bump a student down a year, and like we've discussed, that's almost never going to happen anyway.

    I'm certainly not watching 5 hours of them doing it live and another 5 hours on video to differentiate whether Sakura-chan deserves a 16/20 when I gave dear Chihiro-chan a 15/20.

  6. #6
    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Re: Speaking tests

    The JTEs want to have it counted as half of the test grade, though. :/ They're pretty much asking me to bend the laws of physics to do a test that not only is long enough to effectively evaluate their ability but is short enough to do 24 kids in one hour.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Speaking tests

    Aside from making them do an individual speech or group presentation there really isn't a good way to do this. If I had a teacher who was being that specific about what they wanted to do I would tell them to make the plan themselves.

    I know you've been here for ages and probably know this but plenty of JTEs will continue to pile on the demands with no consideration as to how they could be feasible until you stand up to them and force them to actually consider how it can be done.

  8. #8
    chill yo coop52's Avatar
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    Default Re: Speaking tests

    Oh, I've argued about it, but the time limit is mostly coming from the admin folks, who want it done that way so it's feasible in the future to continue doing these tests for all the JHS grade levels, so six classes of 20-25, during the 3 day testing period. I'm going to push for more time again this round of testing, but I don't know how successful that'll be.

    What does everyone else do for their tests?

  9. #9

    Default Re: Speaking tests

    I strictly do 1 to 1 unscripted interviews, but we slot a couple of weeks before the test where I do little else. Content only comes from the first half of what they were taught since the last test, so the extra week of study isn't such a big deal.
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  10. #10

    Default Re: Speaking tests

    I do a group presentation in the first term and we're just about to do a speech contest in the second term. We also do an interview over two lessons, 40 kids split between me and the JTE. We were supposed to do the interview twice but apparently if I don't pester them about something it doesn't get done, even when it's something they want to actually make a part of the grade.

  11. #11
    Perpetually confused. johnny's Avatar
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    Default Re: Speaking tests

    Those sound like great ideas. I have on average about 33 students per class. Not that it really matters though because at the JHS, the students are pretty much memorizing a script. For a big chunk of them, if you deviate from the script even a little, they are at a loss.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ini View Post
    Teach them something new?? Are you mad? All you do in Japan is rehash the same stuff over and over for 15 years. Hello song, what do you like sports? and fruit basket. The holy trinity of English education.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Speaking tests

    I do speaking tests towards the end of the year for the second and first years. And maybe once or twice more for second years, depending on the JTEs' schedules. I only do 15 or so in a period as well. I write down the questions they should be able to ask/answer or the grammar they should use and try to get them to use it once or twice during conversation. If they do it, they get points - on a scale of 1-5. 1 being no English and 5 being able to ask and answer the questions and use the grammar points.

    I tell them what to study for as well (the JTE wants them able to prepare for it...)

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