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Assessment of Speaking Skills in Higher Education : A Case Study from Teacher Educatio n. Lynell Chvala Faculty of Education and International Studies. SMART Teaching Project : Research and Development in English classrooms in Norway.

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assessment of speaking skills in higher education a case study from teacher educatio n

Assessment of Speaking Skills in Higher Education: A Case Study from Teacher Education


Faculty of Education and International Studies

smart teaching project research and development in english classrooms in norway
SMART Teaching Project: Research and Development in English classrooms in Norway
  • relevant research and development in relation to current practice in the field and a new teacher education for primary and lower secondary school
  • to build effective and meaningful partnerships between:
    • teacher educators,
    • teacher education students and
    • practice teachers and schools in relation to the English as an Additional Language (EAL)
  • focus on basic skills in English
    • LynellChvala – Speaking
    • Mona Flognfeldt – Writing
    • Hilde Tørnby – Reading and Numeracy
focus for today
Focus for today:
  • the assessment of speaking skills for teacher education students
  • discourse competence and speaking skills in higher education for Teacher Education students
communicative approach
  • The goaloflanguageteaching is to enablethelearner to communicate
  • The method for teaching is for thelearner to experience and practice relevant instancesofcommunication

(Celce-Murcia and Olstain, 2005)

theoretical background
  • Vgotsky and Bakhtin
      • Language is “hardly ever a totally individual affair”
  • Halliday’sSystemicFunctionalTheory
    • a perceived need to communicate something to someone
    • within both the immediate context of situation as well as the less tangible context of culture which permeates the situation
discourse approach to l2 teaching
DiscourseApproach to L2 teaching
  • “…an instance of spoken…language that has describable internal relationships of form and meaning that relate coherently to an external communicative function or purpose and a given audience/interlocutor.”

(Celce-Murcia and Olstain, 2005)

discourse approach to l2 teaching1
DiscourseApproach to L2 teaching
  • Furthermore, the external function or purpose can only be determined if one takes into account the context and the participants (i.e., all the relevant situational, social and cultural factors) in which the piece of discourse occurs)”
  • Primary aim of teaching is “to enable learners to become competent and efficient users of a new language”

(Celce-Murcia and Olstain, 2005)

complex dynamic theory of language
ComplexDynamicTheoryof Language
  • Discourse as multiplyinterconnectedlanguage-usingactivitywhich is nested:
      • across time
        • historicaland neurologicalareconnected in to the moment oftheactivity
      • within multiple systems
        • Inidividual action is connectedinto all groups thatinfluencethem
          • from partners engaged in the talk or speaking
          • to the global community
          • to all sociocultural groups in between
    • The environmentorcontextofdiscourseis…inseparably part ofthecomplex dynamics, with systems reacting to changesthrough soft assembly and co-adaptation.

(Larsen-Freeman and Cameron ,2008)

topic 1 december exam
Topic 1 – DecemberExam

2011 TESOL Convention: K-12 Dream Day: Re-Imagining Student Engagement through Best Practices & Programs

topic 1 december exam1
Topic 1: DecemberExam

Your group has been invited to give a presentation at the 2011 AnnualTeaching English to Speakers of Other Language (TESOL) Convention. Your presentation will be a part of the K-12 Dream Day: Re-Imagining Student Engagement through Best Practices & Programsin the Best Practices Strand.

(For more information see last year’s program See

The organizing committee for this event has specifically targeted Norway in an effort to include presentations with a more international focus.

topic 1 december exam2
Topic 1: DecemberExam

Your group will be giving a 15-20 minute presentation with ONE of the following titles:

Improving the effectiveness of vocabulary teaching in lower secondary schools in Norway

This presentation will focus on effective vocabulary teaching in the subject of English in Norway. The presentation will examine what it means to know a word in a second or foreign language. The main focus is on exploring effective practice in relation to developing long-term retention of words for English language learners.


The role of the teacher in developing pupils’ oral skills in Norway – theories and methods, including the use of ICT.

This presentation examines the role of the teacher in developing all pupils’ spoken English skills. It explores relevant theories and methods in relation to oral skills, and takes a close look at the use of ICT in this pursuit.

topic 3 may exam
Topic 3 – May Exam

Imagine that you are team-teaching in 7th grade together with your partner. Together, you have decided to take a process approach to writing in relation to writing a text about Native Americans.

Attached you will find a selection of FOUR texts written by the pupils in your combined classes. You will also find the original assignment description for the writing task that was given to the pupils.

topic 3 may exam1
Topic 3 – May Exam

Thus far, the combined classes have done pre-writing and writing. The attached pupil texts are first drafts.

Based on your analysis of the selected pupil texts, you are to:

  • plan what to do next
  • and present this to the Head of the English Department or “fagansvarlig” at your school
topic 3 may exam2
Topic 3 – May Exam

Make sure to consider:

  • your pupils’ development of written skills in English
  • your pupils’ understanding of language and genre
  • relevant LK06 aims
  • the use of assessment to create an effective learning environment

You will have a maximum of 15 minutes to present your plan. You should be prepared for a discussion of ca. 5 minutes based on questions from your teacher and/or the examiner. Grades will be given individually.

To what degree do you think the exam task reflected a relevant situation for you as a future teacher of English?

Decemberexam(TESOL conference):

  • Not really relevant situationbut relevant in terms of curriculum.
  • No, not really for teaching for my part.
  • Depends on whatyouchoose to workwithwhenworking as an English teacher.
  • With thegrowingfocus on education teachers with a highercompetencelevel in theirsubjects, I thinkthe TESOL Conference wasvery relevant!
  • Unlikelythatthis is a real situationthatwewilloftenmeet.

May exam(meetingwiththe Head of Department):

  • It’s hard to disregardthefactthatit’s an exam
  • Great task! Thanks for listening in advance.
  • In relation to meetingwiththe «fagansvarlig» to present our plan for ourclasses it wasgood. Perhaps a bit difficult to combinethiswiththeexam setting, butdefinitely okay.
  • Unsureabouttheroleofthe head of department.

Decemberexam(TESOL conference):

  • I was not aware my languagewastooinformalbeforethis.
  • Theydid not really talk muchaboutourpronunciation last time (in December).

May exam(meetingwiththe Head of Department):

  • If youaregoing to assesssomeone, it’simportant to actually LISTEN to the persons youassess!!
To what degree did the pictures in the exam task description help you to understand the context or situation for the oral exam?

Decemberexam(TESOL conference):

  • Don’tremember.
  • Suitablepictures for the given setting!
  • Checkedouttheconference online to get a betteridea as to whattheconferencewasreallyabout.

May exam(meetingwiththe Head of Department):

  • Don’tremember.
  • Whatpictures?
  • Haven’treallythoughtabout it.
  • Did not noticethepicturesuntilnow ;-)
  • I learned a lot from thistask.
  • I must admitthat I haven’treallylooked at picturesuntilnow. Nowthat I have I can see howtheycould have helped ;-)
comments presentation
Comments – «presentation»

May exam(meetingwiththe Head of Department):

  • (translated) The task used theword «presentation» and therefore, wechose a Power Point since it is usual to usethis and wedid it last time.
  • Becausethat is the most commonwayof giving a presentation 
comments h istorical trajectory

May exam(meetingwiththe Head of Department):

  • Becausewedid it last time.
  • As wedidthis on ourexamthiswinter, wethoughtwecould do it for this one too.
  • Webelievedthat an oral examcalled for it.
  • Becausethe teachers repeatedlyreferred to theexambefore Christmas, whichcontainedpptpresentation and because it wasn’tspecifiedenoughthatwewere not supposed to use it.
comments historical trajectory

May exam(meetingwiththe Head of Department):

  • (translated) It is normal for us to do it thisway.
  • It’s a habitprobably.
  • Habit – but to use it as keywordsinsteadofusing a script
  • Old habit
  • I think it is mostlyoutofhabit. Using Powerpoint has been a natural part of so manypresentations from uppersecondaryschool and up. I didhoweverwonderabouttheuseof PowerPoint in relationthistask, due to the setting.
  • Weassumedthatsince it was an oral exam, wewoulduse a powerpoint as a tool.
  • Actually, weplanned a PP. It is becauseweare used to it. Simple as that.
  • Weassumedthatwecould do thatsincewehadn’tbeentoldotherwise, and wefind it useful, I guess it just felt natural to make one.
comments context

May exam(meetingwiththe Head of Department):

  • Becausewefound it appropriate to useconcerningthe given situation.
  • Bakhtin, M.M. 1981. The Dialogic Imagination: Four Essays. Holquist, Michael (ed.) Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press.
  • Bhatia, V. 2004. Worlds of Written Discourse: A Genre-Based View. New York: Continuum.
  • Butt, D., R. Fahey, S. Spinks and C. Yallop. 1995. Using Functional Grammar: An Explorer’s Guide. Sydney: Macquarie University, NCELTR (National Centre for English Language Teaching and Research).
  • Bygate, M., Skehan, P. and Swain, M. 2001. Researching Pedagogic Tasks: Second Language Learning, Teaching and Testing. London: Person Education Limited.
  • Celce-Murcia, M. and Olshtain, E. 2001. “Discourse Analysis and Language Teaching” in The Handbook of Discourse AnalysisSchiffrin, D. , Tannen, D. and Hamilton, H. (eds.). Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, Ltd.
  • Celce-Murcia, M. and Olshtain, E. 2005. “Discourse-Based Approaches: A New Framework for Second Language Teaching and Learning” in Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning New York: Routledge.
  • Penne, S. and Hertzberg, F. 2008. Muntlige tekster i klasserommet (Oral Texts in theClassroom). Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
  • Larsen-Freeman, D. and Cameron, L. 2008. Complex Systems and Applied Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Savignon, Sandra. 2005. ”Communicative Language Teaching: Strategies and Goals” in Handbook of Research in Second Language Teaching and Learning. New York: Routledge
  • Issueofpresentation/discussion
    • Meaningofpresentation
    • How described in theassessmentcriteria
  • Consideration of context
  • Use of contextual clues
next step
  • Individualinterviewwith students
  • Interview/information from externalexaminers