Wednesday, April 01, 2015

How to Assess Speaking Skills

Speaking is probably the most complex skill of language acquisition.

“Speaking is a complex skill requiring the simultaneous use of different ability which often develops at different rates” (David P. Harris). 

The assessment of Speaking is not easy but it does not mean “speaking” cannot be measured in correct way.

Speaking performance can be done by different activities in Primary:

• Role playing
• Brainstorming
• Reading with partners
• “Show and tell”
• Oral reporting to the whole class
• Retelling stories with visual supports
• Giving descriptions or instructions using visual or written prompts
• Completing a dialogue or a conversation through written prompts
• Completing incomplete stories
• Playing games
• And, even, “karaokeing”!

But, the most important thing is to establish clear and fair criteria from the beginning. It might be helpful to develop these criteria in conjunction with other teachers or even with the students that will take an active role in their own assessment.

What a Rubric is?
A Rubric is a great assessment tool both for teacher and student. The rubric lets them know exactly what is expected in each step of the oral test and what each step is worth. It provides the student a visual guide for them to use when completing an assignment or doing a presentation.

Here you are an example of an Oral Scoring Rubric:


It is common accepted that an oral test should be divided into five elements:

  • pronunciation
  • grammar
  • vocabulary
  • fluency
  • and comprehension 

Each element characteristics are then defined into four or five short behavioural statements as stated in the frames above. This helps to make the test reliable, since it avoids subjectivity because it provides clear, precise and mutually exclusive behavioural statements for each point of the scale. The writer will objectively see the characteristics of each student. Speaking ability whether they achieve 1,2,3,4 or 5 score. Then, it can easily calculate the score. The amount of maximum scores gained is 20 or 25 depending on the number of statements.

Some other examples of rubrics to assess oral skills:



Some good stuff to start with Rubrics...



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