Teaching and assessing speaking


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It's a brief overview of key notions on teaching and assessing speaking

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Teaching and assessing speaking

  1. 1. MA in TEFLEvaggelia Charalambous Fall Semester 2012
  2. 2.  The construct of speaking. The construct of the task which speaking is taught and assessed. The criteria for performance and The construct of oral development.
  3. 3.  How can we assess what does a speaker know through speaking? How can we define her proficiency through testing one’s speaking skills? What are the characteristics that define the speakers proficiency and how do they contribute in going beyond that level of proficiency? How do we interpret different levels of proficiency in speaking English?
  4. 4.  The processes that are needed for speech production and the speaker’s repertoire. The construction of the task, which means how effective is this task in demonstrating speaking proficiency and The circumstances of performance such as planning, rehearsal and examination context, or as it called the conditions of speech.
  5. 5. 1. Linguistic features of speech are(a) phonological (segmental and supra-segmental)(b) lexico-grammatical (morphological, syntactical, lexical, formulaic and pragmalinguistic)(c) discourse (socio-pragmatic and pragmatic) We have to reveal their frequency in speech and to analyze their pragmatic and functional status in empirical studies. Chafe (1985) identifies 2 dimensions:(a) Fragmentation→ the relative lack of group modification, the relative frequency of sub-clause level units or fragments and the occurrence of overt “editing” features.(b) Involvement→ characteristics that indicate personal identity and group membership plus those which suggest personal feelings and attitudes to the interlocutor or the
  6. 6. Foreign Language So, we have to assign tospeakers must have access them activities that to the dimensions of allow these dimensions fragmentation and to occur. involvement.
  7. 7. 2. The construction of the task → how effective is this task in demonstrating speaking proficiency is critical because we need to design tasks that help students engage in conversations and speaking drills according to their level.3. The circumstances of performance → planning, rehearsal and examination context, or as it called the conditions of speech.
  8. 8.  Speech normally occurs in the presence of an interlocutor so 2 other conditions emerge:(a) reciprocity→ the speaker regulates her speech having in mind what the interlocutor knows, is interested in and expects and assist the interlocutor in understanding and participating in the conversation.(b) time-pressure→ speaking usually is immediate so there is restricted planning time and it is also important to give time to the interlocutor to speak. Generally, editing (which involves self- correction, pauses, reformulations, etc.) in speaking is overt, while speaking conditions are interrelated and occur at the same time!
  9. 9. Some common speaking conditions are: Do not forget that spoken exchanges are normally improvisation, mitigation, metacomments influenced by contact, power and affect. To be more (“frankly”, “hopefully”), negotiation for clear, social distance or intimacy, attitudes ormeaning, exchanges, slang, openings, closings, speech emotions towards the other speaker/s and relations of acts, topic or turn management, etc. power affect speaking!
  10. 10. 1. Conceptualization→ access to long-term memory, tracking of the discourse, following the interlocutor’s knowledge and expectations, identifying the pragmatic purpose and the pragmatic-conceptual content of the utterances2. Formulation→ lexico-grammatical selection, sequencing and phonological priming3. Articulation→ physical process of phonological production4. Covert and Overt Monitoring of speech.
  11. 11. 1. Automated vs. Controlled Models of Processing: automated processing is connected with articulation and formulation, with markers of fluency, complexity and controlled processingis effective for speech monitoring as it is connected with conceptualization and formulation processes.2. Are control and automation gradable or categorical conditions? Automation does not involve conscious effort or processing, so is it difficult to monitor and grade it? Yes it can be monitored. Second language pronunciation involves physical, cognitive processes and effort as it is not innate→ Great need to define automation and control processes in speaking in order to involve them in teaching and assessing speaking.
  12. 12. Discourse types i.e: talking about self, small So don’t forgettalk, interviews, instru that pausing may ctions, jokes and be an indicator personal narratives that the speaker involve automation isprocesses. Speakers of higher proficiency thinking, process need cognitive ing what she processing. wants to utter!
  13. 13.  We have to develop different kinds of methodologies for teaching different language skills → We must distinguish between declarative and procedural knowledge in our methodology:1. Declarative knowledge is the factual knowledge (“knowing that”), which most likely arises episodic memory, means that speakers have the ability to draw knowledge from their memory- remember the learning experiences they have encountered.2. Procedural knowledge is the knowledge of how to do something (“knowing how”). Declarative knowledge is accompanied by procedural knowledge.
  14. 14. Design pedagogical activities thatguide and help the development ofprocedural capacities and use themappropriately by changing timepressure conditions, repetition ofthe task and change planning time. Explicit instruction should be made in order for the students to access declarative knowledge, so there is a question of how explicit instruction should take place in the classroom.
  15. 15.  “…problem of how to engage learners with language in the context of pragmatically driven oral activities.” (Bygate, 2011, p.422) Byrne (1976) suggested the PPP (Presentation-Practice- Production) approach, which included drills and short dialogues. Morrow and Johnson (1979) developed materials which focused on language reflecting aspects of interpersonal pragmatics. All these approaches do not effectively help learners to engage in the pragmatics of interpersonal talk. Abbot (1981) based on the Audiolingual Method developed the information-gap activities.
  16. 16. 1. Input- Focused approach→ In the 1970’s they believed that incidental learning happens through input but it was discredited as an approach. Performance can be improved by focusing on perceptual processing rather than production practice.2. Production- Focused approach→ Effect repertoire changes. They are focused in production and the drills involve repetition, team talking, cycle of task activity to encourage backchanneling, problem-solving and jigsaw tasks to promote types of negotiation, etc. The controversy was that many people claimed that it blocks learners’ creativity. The issue was how to use these tasks to improve accuracy, fluency, lexical range and complexity and what language is being used/produced in the process. Furthermore, planning and feedback occur in classroom environments but not in everyday life contexts.
  17. 17. Feedback which addresses the learners’ struggle and problematization for meaning →feedback that focuses on forms. Record students’ speech and then ask them to transcribe and correct their own speechthrough the recordings, in order to make them aware of what they are producing. Teachers should focus on drills which teach pre-communicative skills before moving on to the actual production skills. Thornbury (2005) introduces structures for designing speaking syllabi, such as genres, conversation skills , topics and task types.
  18. 18. 1. Direct approach → teaching of a skill, the pre- communicative strategies involved where learners focus on specific constituents of communication and their practice. This approach involves analysis and explanation of the structures that spoken genres have, learning of formulaic phrases, feedback from the teacher and learning activities.2. Indirect approach → more ‘authentic’ and practical language use. It is a skill-using approach and characterized as communicative. Tasks come from the language, negotiation and sharing information. Some of the activities of the indirect approach are discussions, information gaps, group work, talking circles with discussion of personal experiences based on narratives, anecdotes, etc.
  19. 19.  Washback effect from exams influences school’s curriculum and procedures of teaching. Issue: Identify which testing procedures affect and improve teaching practices and vice versa! → Aspects:1. Development of task content and their format→ what stimulus materials should be given to the candidates, what interaction formats they should be familiar with and the variations within these formats.2. How testing can illuminate the variables and the factors that have an effect on performance?3. Development of rating scales→ it is critical to develop the correct rating scales → draw from the results of SLA studies and the language pedagogy. Rating scales can be developed by teachers, teacher trainers, teacher informants (CEFR) and professionals of the field. Rating scales such as the one developed by (ACTFL) OPI) scales, have an impact on the triangle task-curriculum-exam so they have to be valid, useful and objective.
  20. 20.  Scales and exams influence “teachers’ intuitions about the nature of language development” (Bygate, 2011, p. 431).Testing tips:Do not consider pausing as a sign of low proficiency, because native speakers also pause. In order to involve it in the assessment we have to track its frequency and distribution in the speech production across the levels and areas of competence. Turner (1998) suggests the development of oral portfolios, as they were described by O’Malley and Pierce (1996) in order to have on-going assessment. In addition, testing speaking should be fun and inviting for learner’s creativity.
  21. 21.  The interlocutors, the tasks’ design, task conditions, planning time and topics that are used during the speaking exams should be taken into account; for example, Turner (1998) examines the research around interview- format oral proficiency testing and explains that interviews are normally guided by the interlocutor, the candidates follow the general structure of the interlocutor’s speech and that limits their use of language. Generally, interviews do not resemble natural conversations. Raters similarities and differences should be taken into account in order to minimize differences which affect scoring.
  22. 22.  It is important to know that examiners affect the students; whether the examiner is over or under accommodating affects positively or negatively the students. It is critical to identify the best exam formats in testing speaking and involve several tasks in an exam such as interview, topic discussion and the general accommodation of the speakers’ style and ideas in the exam. In conclusion we have to identify and map the models and patterns of oral development in order to include them in our teaching skills and in the testing .
  23. 23. 1. Focus on accuracy and fluency (form/function) – teachers should identify learner’s proficiency, learner’s requirements, how they progress, what interactional responses are produced within a task, how to guide them and their autonomy levels, before finding the right way of teaching fluency and accuracy (Burns 1998).2. Use motivating topics and techniques: use ‘authentic’ teaching materials. Scripted dialogues dismiss naturalistic speech by introducing well-formed utterances, discrete turn-taking, absent discourse markers or colloquial expressions avoiding the contextual redundancy which comes from the notion of shared assumptions which occurs between naturalistic speakers; “…mismatch between what tends to be presented to learners...and the actual use of that language….outside the classroom” (as cited in Burns, 1998).
  24. 24. 3. Advise students to related their language use with the context; engage student’s into meaningful interaction.4. Feedback and correction techniques should accommodate student’s needs and learning styles; “…inject the kinds of corrective feedback that are appropriate for the moment” (Brown, 2007, p.331).5. Stress the connection between listening and speaking; include activities that involve both skills.6. Provide opportunities to learners to initiate communication and take control of conversations between them and the teacher.7. Guide the development of speaking strategies and support the development of individual approaches (fillers, clarification requests, negotiation for meaning, speech acts)