Oral Participation in the Foreign Language Classroom

Synopsis prepared by Lee Risley
in Six Parts   [Menu]

Part #5. Oral Testing, Administering Tests,  Grading

A. How To Find Time For Oral Performance Interview (OPI) Testing
B. Ways of Preparing For and Conducting Interview Testing
C. Strategy of Interview Scheduling and Simultaneous Activities For Other Students
D. Problems with Some Testing Programs and Official Guidelines
E. Grading of Oral Proficiency

A. How To Find Time For Oral Performance Interview (OPI) Testing

95/08 From-->   Margaret Beauvois <beauvois@utkvx.utk.edu>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

In reply to Madeline Bishop's message about oral interviewing:

We give 3 oral, one-on-one; or small group-on-one tests per semester per
section. To avoid taking class time for these tests, we ask students to
sign up for a specific time during our office hours plus an hour over
the week in which these exams are given(6 hours total). We also schedule
one or two before and after class if we can, schedules permitting. It is
time consuming but worth the effort. We manage to interview all students
in that week time period. Most of us teach two sections or roughly 40 -
50 students. If we set up the interviews with 2 -3 students, a bit of
time is saved: 20-30 students in 2 hours. Our interviews last from 5-7
minutes. Our "interviews" are not OPI's but rather based on the method we
use: French in Action.

I'm not sure this will help you in your situation, but this works for us.

Margaret Beauvois


95/08 From--> "Robert D. Peckham" <bobp@UTM.Edu>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

Madeline: For my first and second year classes, I make a series of tape
tests, which point towards a final face-to-face oral interview. That
interview is given towards the end of the semester during two days of
class in my office. During those two days, students do not come to
class, but rather work with tapes, video, TV or CDs. I find the ordeal
of the interview as tiring to me as it is scary for the students.
Technically, you are not supposed to give that many real OPIs in a day.
It is very different with the non-FL humanities majors exiting after 4th
semester. There are few enough of them to allow good interviews. We will
be investigating the issue of SOPI as soon as I can find some time and
the moolah for the training (I may have to get a loan from my local
convenience store).



95/08 From-->   "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject:        Oral interviews

Just a reminder to all that those of us in secondary generally don't
have "office hours," are competing with bus schedules, athletics, etc.,
and dealing with 150 students, plus or minus, with -- depending upon
current schedule -- 5 classes or the equivalent daily. Although I have
in the past tried to have students come after school, it's only workable
a) for maybe one class -- with maybe 25 or more students, at 10 minutes
per..., and b) maybe once a year.

My only other solution has been to take students out in the hall one at
a time while class is working on something else -- and this takes
forever. Once we had a part-time teacher who was willing, on her own
time, to come in and test out in the hall while we went on with class --
not the best solution, since the students were being tested by a
stranger, and how many of us have that kind of help?

I have tried in the past a "tape" solution, with students recording
answers -- but it really upset a number of them, I was unable to
simulate real conversation because I couldn't pick up on their answers,
etc., etc.

It's a problem.

Marilyn V.J. Barrueta


95/08 From-->   Carmen Chavez <CCHAVEZ@clust1.clemson.edu>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

For the person who doesn't have the office hour, you might try giving
the interview (outside your class, during your class period) while your
students are in-class preparing for the interview. I have found that if
the student realizes what it is you are doing, he/she will cooperative.
You could do a "mock interview" (similar to the ones we do in training)
in front of the entire class. Then, you give out "Situational Cards" and
have the students in class practice while you are outside really doing
an interview.

Of course, each person has to decide whether this type of exercise would
*work* with their class. The upside to this sort of interview is that
you (as the interviewer) will be more productive and stick to the
time-schedule. I've noticed that I start to wander when I do the
interview during my office hours. Actually, it is my mind that wanders,
not me! 8-) Carmen

Carmen Chavez


95/08 From-->   Bob Hall <bobhall@usa.net>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

The most common situation I've seen used is what every one else has
given (You interview; the kids not being interviewed are working on other
assigned work). In my school district we have been administering both
oral and writing proficiency samples for the past 5 or 6 years using the
Colorado Proficiency Sample Project. I must point out that we have used
random samples for the oral samples (about a third of each class) which
cuts down on the time needed. One of the things that we have done,
which, fortunately for us, the district funded, was to hire substitutes
to replace the cadre of teachers who administered the oral samples. From
the teachers' perspective this worked pretty well. Naturally, those
scampering for the funds to support the project were not quite as

Bob Hall


95/08 From-->   Jean-Jacques d'Aquin <jdaquin@jaguar1.usouthal.edu>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

There is no way that a higher-ed instructor can suggest time-finding
strategies to K-12 practitioners - our worlds are simply too different.
Let me suggest, however, that since you are being mandated to legally
"prove" proficiency by your students, you vastly improve the validity of
your OI by NOT interviewing your own students (unless you are the only
teacher in town). Exchanging classes (students) with another teacher to
provide an "objective, disinterested examiner" is what gives academic
validity to an oral interview. The students don't like being evaluated
by a stranger, but that is exactly what happens in real life, and that
increases the validity of the test. At the university level it is much
easier to only test other instructors' students, but if you can solve
the scheduling problem, this should not be too burdensome. Even teachers
from different schools should exchange students, assuming they are using
similar syllabi. Good luck!

Jean-Jacques d'Aquin

B. Ways of Preparing For and Conducting Interview Testing

95/08 From-->   "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject:        Oral testing

Actually, I do have one other suggestion, although I'm not sure it would
meet Madeline's requirement of state-mandated testing. (An aside -- tell
the state they then have to pay for all of you to become certified

Several of us include an oral section on final exams, semester exams,
etc. We went through each of our units, identified the topics, and wrote
oral situations that involved those topics. We ended up with maybe 20-25
situations. We distributed them to the students several days before the
exam, told them to get a partner, and practice all. The day of the exam,
we cut up the situations in strips, put them in a box, went around the
room and one partner drew a situation for the two of them to talk about.
(We retained the right to say who would start the conversation, so it
helped eliminate strictly rote dialogs.) Obviously this didn't address a
totally ad-lib conversation, but it did have several advantages:

1) You can go through a class of 30 fairly quickly -- half hour, tops.

2) It convinced the kids to go back and review the relevant vocabulary
(and structures, depending) at a time when a lot of them just want to
get out of school!

3) It gave them someone to lean on -- a partner, so it wasn't so
threatening -- we stressed that, as in real life, if one partner in a
conversation suddenly bogs down, it behooves the other to DO something!

4) It gave them something specific to prepare for -- not just "prepare
for being tested orally."

5) And not the least -- it kept them focused and busy, productively,
while the teacher did the stupid things that have to be down at that
time of year, and provided a break from the "review" (which they demand
but aren't really interested in doing).

Marilyn V.J. Barrueta


95/08 From-->   "Ilona M. Fox" <IVMFOX@aol.com>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

This has worked for me in middle school with 6th, 7th and 8th
graders...although not strictly what you are looking for, it has the
advantage that everyone understands and participates. Depending on the
level of the class and the time of year, I prepare 8 to 20 questions.
Students answer 2 to 5 per night, correct and practice together asking
and answering the questions. I collect and correct. Students are told
that they are to prepare to answer the questions in class. For practice,
I ask the first question, student responds, asks person of his choice
the next, and so on. For practice sessions, students may use questions
and answers. For the real thing...for the oral grade, student must
answer without answers.

They are to know all...I will ask 3 random, and grade A..B..C.. I try to
do this once a grading period.

Ilona M. Fox


95/08 From-->   Beverly Maass BJMOSS@aol.com
Subject:        oral testing

At the 1st and 2nd year levels in high school I test the students orally
once each semester. Each week as the classes are learning the material,
I teach the students several questions that will appear on the next quiz
but will also appear on their oral semester exam. For example, by the
end of 1st semester in a first year class the students would have a list
of about 25 questions that they would have to study for the oral exam.
The questions might be something like: How are you?, Where do you live?,
How many people are in your family?, etc. By 2nd semester the questions
are more complex, and the questions for second year are often in the
past tense.

We periodically study all of the questions using various techniques,
activities and even games. The students know the importance of this list
of questions and they are expected to keep thir own list all semester.
When they are absent, many of the students will ask me if they missed
any "semester questions".

When I give the semester orals, each student is asked 5 questions worth
a total of 45 points, and I often ask each student to translate a
different question into English for me for another 5 points. Then I can
double or triple the points for a larger semester score. For scoring I
use a rubric that some of us at my high school developed. It is a rubric
for questions.

As far as giving the tests, I have 90 minute classes, and on the day of
the oral students can either study, do other homework, or sometimes I
show a Disney cartoon in Spanish. I can usually test a class of 30
students in about 50 to 60 mins.

This works quite well for me.


95/08 From-->   Connie Vargas <CJFLTEACH@aol.com>
Subject:        Re: The COCI - Classroom oral competency interview

You may be interested in this shorter, more appropriate to High School
classroom interview. It was developed by the California Foreign Language
Project. You can contact Duarte Silva at Stanford University for real
details. Briefly, it cut the interview to 5 minutes, renamed the levels
of proficiency (more applicable to what non-native speakers would
achieve from the HS language experience). Training is ongoing throughout
California currently, but possible in other areas.

Connie Vargas


95/08 From-->   Diana Iskreva <diskreva@meko.vub.ac.be>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing -Reply

I, myself, prefer another way - to give the students the opportunity to
show their best in situations where they will have some choice, of
course limited in some boundaries by the teacher - otherwise students
are usually lost and the time is never enough. I prefer giving them

"roles" - something that is near to their interests, and at the same
time serves the purposes of the topic.

I usually give them some roles - they are eager to "incarnate" in famous
people, the generation of their parents, pop singers, football
players... You can write the options on the board, or give them the
chance to choose a small sheet with "a role", or any other way but
limited options because many of they always hesitate what to chose and
change their decisions.

You can also construct a group of "a mother", "a father", "a child" and
any other, and to give them a situation (eg the "child" has a homework
to write but at the same time there is something very important for
him/her (could be a football match that he/she is dying to attend), and
he/she has to discuss different options with the "parents". The group
and the problem could differ enormously and could serve any purposes.

The students are given the opportunity to discuss, agree or disagree,
propose, feel free and not frustrated, to use all the knowledge and
abilities they have - they are usually eager to do so. The problem is
that it is quite difficult for the teacher to put specific marks as
evaluation of their work. It is time consuming. But, I am sure, it pays
back with the increased interest in the subject as a whole. Wish

Diana Iskreva

95/08 From-->   Leslie Kornreich <74362.1451@compuserve.com>
Subject:        Oral testing

I love all of the oral testing ideas!! Last year, I did my own oral
testing. An oral exam was 25% of the final exam in my Spanish I class.
Two days before the exam, I gave my class a list of questions they would
be asked to answer (simple stuff -- how old are you, where do you live,
etc.). They were allowed to study the sheet up until the time of the
exam, but could not use the sheet during the actual test. I was able to
get one of the other teachers in my school to watch my class while I
interviewed each student individually. It was heartening to see how hard
they practiced before their turn came up!

One question, though -- what method do you use to grade these things?

Leslie Kornreich


96/01 From-->   Janice Adams <adamsja@CAA.MRS.UMN.EDU>
Subject:        oral assessment

A colleague and I are looking for new ways (and variations of old ways)
of conducting oral assessments. We both use the Natural Approach (DOS
MUNDOS is our text) in our college level Beginning Spanish classes. The
classes are made up of 35-40 students of all levels and backgrounds.
Some have had previous Spanish in high school, others have not, or have
had a different language (usually French).

We have conducted periodic oral interviews with students, done in pairs.
This is not an ideal situation because even in pairs, the number of
students is very unwieldy and with everyone having different schedules,
interviews are difficult to arrange other than the last few days of
classes during class time. We considered doing this during finals week,
but it turned out to be an impossible idea -- we would have to camp out
in our offices for five days to accommodate everyone, and we anticipated
problems with university policy.

We have done as much as possible with in-class assessments conducted
during paired activities such as information gap and interviews, for
example. We are currently using the T-A-L-K system presented in Glisan
and Shrum's THE TEACHER'S HANDBOOK which is one of my texts for the
Methods class. We find that this system inflates the grades we feel
these students should be getting.

We welcome any constructive suggestions, new ideas, ideas for moderating
what we are already doing, etc.

Janice Adams


96/01 From-->   Eliseo Pico <Eliseo@spainembedu.org>
Subject:        Re: oral assessment

I asked them to record some tasks in pairs. I gave them three tasks:

1) A role-play (common to all groups).

2) A dialog of your invention (each pair had to invent a dialog).

3) Show your teacher your command of the language. (Open; each one had
to demonstrate his/her command of the language through a task that
showed clearly their command: some read parts of an article they have
read; some other explained what they have done or accomplished, etc.).
Then if you have 30 kids you only have 15 tapes to listen to in the
quiet of your home or office. The problem of scheduling is sorted out.
Some tapes contain valuable material as to how people learn languages.
If played back in class (permission granted by students) they can give
ideas as to how to improve the successful strategies.

Eliseo Pico


97/06 From-->  Kay Freire <KayonElm@aol.com>
Subject:      Re: oral testing

For semester tests in level one I create a situation and have the
students learn a monologue of their creation.  An example would be:
Paloma is an exchange student from Spain.  She wants to know what
American teenagers do after school and on the weekends.  Tell her your
opinion and then tell her what you did last weekend and what you are
going to do this weekend.

The students come up to my desk in pairs.  They have to listen to each
other and then ask 3-5 questions about the information their partner
gave. Sometimes I ask them questions too.  That way you can test their
oral comprehension and their ability to express themselves on the spot.

I evaluate them on the use of required grammar, the quality of the
content of their presentation, use of vocabulary, pronunciation ad
fluidity, the comprehension of the listener(me) as if I were a
sympathetic native speaker, and the quality of their questions.

This scenario would be used at the end of the school year but you can
also create them for 1st semester base whatever thematic lesson you have
had.   Of course the students are doing skits and role-plays on a
regular basis all year long and are not intimidated by the situation.

Kay Freire


97/06 From-->   D3troiter@aol.com
Subject:      Re: oral testing

A previous posting questioned whether or not memorizing answers to
questions was actually creating conversation.  I think that in a
beginning level class one has to provide that kind of structure to
students who are apprehensive in their oral conversation.

In my classes, I do use simple question/ answer for quizzes.  I also
include "street scene" dialogues in front of the class where I give the
students a certain situation or scenario.  But when it comes time to
orally test individual students at the end of a unit, they are at my
desk and being given situations that must be understood by a native

I found that this method is especially helpful when students know what
they want to say, but get a little confused.  Just as we all did as
first timers in a foreign setting.  So, for example, if a test scenario
was "You are at a party in Quebec, somebody comes to talk to you, answer
his questions."  The teacher obviously asks the questions for "How are
you", and "what's your name"?  or maybe "are you American?" and "how old
are you?" The student may not recite the exact phrases that he was
taught, but one word answers would be understood by a native speaker
thus producing conversation.

My main focus in testing kids is, would they be understood by a native
speaker?  If the child answers "Je suis Bob" instead of "Je m'appelle
Bob"  I would give them a passing mark, because although not standard
French, he would've been understood.  The same idea also pertains to
when the student is asking the questions.



97/06 From--> "Richard E. Boswell" <boswell@binghamton.edu>
Subject:      Testing: oral and written

BOSWELL> >- Yes, writing tells us what we want to know. All the rest is
probably superfluous!

PONTERIO> Generally true, though for some students written proficiency
will not be a good indicator of oral skills.  Of course, tests do much
more than evaluate students.  They also send a message about what skills
we think are important for students to develop.

- Yes, I agree that our testing sends a strong message to the students
about what we as teachers consider important, but I don't find that my
students need any encouragement to think that oral skills are important.
They'd love to speak good French.

I don't feel guilty about not doing oral testing because there is after
all a generally strong correlation between the two productive skills:
writing and speaking, and also because there is little the student can
do that he is not already doing to improve his speaking in an academic
setting which is hardly an immersion situation no matter how many hours
we have him in class) while, on the other hand, there is plenty he can
do to improve his writing (like doing his homework more

Another factor:  testing oral skills is very time-consuming, harder to
control than the testing of the writing skill (the writing just sits
there on the page for as long as you want to look at it), and more
subject to external factors like the nervousness of the student during

Richard Boswell  (Binghamton U.)

C. Strategy of Interview Scheduling and Simultaneous Activities for Other Students

95/08 From-->   "Janet L. Bowler" <jbowler@ednet1.osl.or.gov>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

I save formal individual oral proficiency interviews for the end of the
year in my high school classes but I do try to use oral prochievement
tests at the end of each unit or at least twice each marking period. I
test students in pairs to make the testing go quicker for me and to
reduce stress for the students. I begin the oral testing procedure with
small talk questions for each student and then give them a dialog
situation to perform together ad lib.

It still takes a considerable block of time to test all the students in
pairs. I cope with testing and supervising students simultaneously by
combining oral testing with a process writing activity. The day before
oral testing is to begin I tell students to come to class prepared to
write for 15-20 minutes about the current topic. I prepare 3-5 possible
situations that they could write about. (For first year students, this
writing is usually in dialog form since they are not able to write
paragraphs yet.) The writing situations are also the oral testing dialog

The students can take the situations home after the initial writing
activity to use in preparation for the next day's speaking test (another
tension reducer). The next day we start the testing procedure. Students
have the possible situations already but I draw names for their partner
and also for the specific situation that they will perform. During the
first half hour of testing the students are quite motivated to practice
speaking the situations with their partner. Then I return the writing
papers from the previous day and ask them to start the process writing

While I'm testing, the students first face a partner to read their paper
for comprehension feedback and then sit side by side with a partner to
read the paper again for spelling and grammar feedback. Each student
needs to collect at least two signatures on their paper so this procedure
can take some time. All the while I am testing and students are working.
When it appears that most students have collected two signatures, I sop
testing and take questions about the writing papers. Students who have
heard conflicting advice can clear up questions and students who only
trust a teacher to help them can ask their questions. I return to
testing and the students work on their final draft of their paper.

By the time that half of the class has finished the writing procedure I
am usually on my last two or three groups for oral testing. This is when
I give students the option of watching a FL music video, playing a FL
board game or visiting with a friend in the FL. By combining oral
testing with process writing I feel I am using a meaningful testing
practice and still keeping students involved in a meaningful learning
activity. The students end up with an oral assessment sheet and writing
sample to put in their portfolios (and I end up feeling like the ring
master in a three ring circus.)

Janet L. Bowler


95/08 From-->   Lauren Rosen <lauren@lss.wisc.edu>
Subject:        Finding time for oral interview testing -Reply

When I was doing oral testing in junior high and high school I found
that if it was during a regular test time where there was a written
part, I would set up 2 desks just outside of the classroom door where I
could see in and the student being orally tested couldn't. In this way I
was able to monitor the class also and I got through about 25 students
during a period. The ones I missed didn't mind staying a little late or
coming in during a study hall.

When I oral tested during non-written test times I usually had the
others working on a project and I had the same set up with me right
outside the door.

Both these seemed to work well for me. Good luck!

Lauren Rosen


95/08 From-->   "Mrs. Cynthia Sinsap" <cindy@stjohn.sju.ac.th>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

I've enjoyed reading through the various ideas on this topic, though
I've felt frustrated in that I've barely had time to scan my messages
and sort them to files, let alone respond. I'm glad this thread is still
going on. I and my colleagues do orally testing every semester in our
grade 10-12 program, and I am able to use the same basic procedure that
I used with my 1st and 2nd year university ESL students.

We do the tests during the final examination period, scheduling 2-hr to
3-hr. blocks of time into the exam timetable just as if it were an
ordinary written exam. The students have signed up on an "appointment
sheet" in pairs. We usually have about 4 teachers , in the four corners
of the room and an assistant to act as an usher. Student pairs wait
outside the door, and go to the first available teacher, rather like you
do when you wait in line at the bank. The usher's job is to make sure
that there are the requisite number of pairs waiting their turn, and
that those who have finished leave.

The remainder of the students are waiting inside other nearby classrooms
that have been set aside for that purpose. They do a pretty good job
occupying themselves, either practicing their speaking or getting in a
little group study for another exam. We do try to do the orals on the
last day of the exams whenever possible. Since we do our tests in pairs
and use a fairly standard sequence of test activities, on pair tales 5-7
minutes. With an efficient usher, 4 teachers can finish 35-40 pairs in
an hour (70-80 students).

Mrs. Cynthia Sinsap


95/09 From-->   Anne Lessick Xiao <AELXIAO@macc.wisc.edu>
Subject:        oral testing in class

A few weeks ago someone asked what we were doing about testing so many
students orally (was it Madeleine?). My solution is adapted from work
done by Patrick Bennett of the Dept. of African Languages and Literature
at UW-Madison.

Having found that telling college students to prepare with a fellow
student sometimes meant memorizing a dialog that they scripted, I
decided to use the language lab to help me in my oral testing. The way I
did my testing was to tell the students to bring a blank cassette tape
for the next class period (I always brought a half dozen of my own for
those who conveniently forgot) and then told them the general topic . Of
course this was related to what we had been working on in class and for
homework. Some of the best work came from topics surrounding travel (you
are a travel agent and i am a confused but rich customer. I want you to
plan a trip to any city you know well) and advice (you are Said, the Ann
Landers of Tanzania, and you work on radio so you must read the question
aloud before you give your advice). For the latter role play/monologue,
the assignment of the previous lesson was to write two questions that
you really want help with. I shuffled the questions and students picked
a question.

I give everyone about three minutes to think up their response and then
we all head off to the language lab (they have been forewarned I assure
you) and the students have about 10 minutes to give their advice, make
their report, etc. I did this in the last 20 minutes of class so that
those that finished early could go, but that those that hesitate and
want to repeat and repeat must get something down before the bell rings.

The advice "test" worked so well that i then had the question writer
listen to Said's advice and tape in his/her comments on the advice.

Finally, I should say that I started this after three months of language
learning and continued with it in second semester. The language was
Swahili but i think it can be adapted to any language... describe the
crime scene, tell us about the wedding of your dreams.

I await commentary and suggestions for improvement. I know that the Oral
Proficiency guidelines require interaction but with 20 or more students,
meaningful (ie time-consuming) interactions are difficult to schedule.
Yes, I did spend hours listening to students' tapes, but for the most
part, they were creative and fun. Students showed what they knew, not

Anne Lessick Xiao


97/06 From-->    Richard Lee <rlee@bloomington.in.us>
Subject:      Re: oral testing

I know that this sounds like heresy to many, but I have then translate
orally.  I give them a sheet in English beforehand, so that there are no
surprises.  Each kid comes up individually and has a limited amount of
time to orally recite, in Spanish, the sentences (about a dozen) that I
have picked from the list of 30 or 40.  By the way, I don't think that
translation is a dirty word.  I believe that it is a normal part of
second language acquisition in the early phases.  It doesn't present any
philosophical contradiction for me at all.  In addition, it requires the
student to use the structure (not just a "communicative answer") that I
have taught, so that it is useful for grammar as well as content.  I
count these oral tests very heavily in the grade.

Richard Lee

D. Problems with Some Testing Programs and Official Guidelines

95/08 From-->   "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing

We didn't need any equipment other than a tape recorder, and he used
some overhead transparencies. Basically we spent some time on the
history and development; some discussion of the ACTFL Proficiency
Guidelines, the rest on listening to tapes and trying to understand the
ratings that were given. The test itself is recorded on tape, and
students are given a booklet with directions. If you've done the OPI,
should be a piece of cake.

IMHO, the problem with implementing the OPI -- a number of reasons:

1) the sheer cost of training for the majority of secondary teachers --
it's too expensive, their school systems won't pay for it;

2) the cost of having students tested by certified trainers -- few
school systems have either the $ or the desire to have hundreds + of
students tested at the cost that I have heard cited for what amounts to
about a 1/2 hour interview per student;

3) the lack of perception of need as long as what colleges are expecting
and accepting is credits and grades;

4) the lack of clamor on the part of businesses for such a rating;

5) the reluctance on the part of *some* (few, maybe, but some) teachers
to have their students tested, especially by a colleague -- and it goes
on and on.

I think attending a SOPI workshop can be very useful, if only to get you
thinking about possibilities. Nothing ever seems to be the *perfect*
answer, you know!

Marilyn V.J. Barrueta


95/08 From-->   Diana Iskreva <diskreva@meko.vub.ac.be>
Subject:        Re: Finding time for oral interview testing -Reply

Oral interviewing of the students is something regular in the schools of
Bulgaria. It is traditionally done when the teacher asks questions and
the examined student answers. This gives the teacher the opportunity to
evaluate precisely the knowledge of the student, and it is thought that
the other students will listen to the answers and learn more about the
subject. According to my experience, the other students listen
uncritically to the answers, if listen at all, feel bored, precious time
is lost. If a teacher intends to interview his/her students, he/she
should answer the question: what is the main purpose of the interview.
If it is to have precise evaluation of the knowledge - the above
mentioned technique gives good results.

Diana Iskreva


97/06 From-->   Richard Lee <rlee@bloomington.in.us>
Subject:      Re: oral testing

I am fairly sure that TBob knows how highly I respect him and I say this
with the understanding that no personal offense will be taken. I have
been struggling with the "state guidelines" for some time now. They seem
to create a "ceiling" not a "floor" for some of us.  I recall earlier
years when at our state convention we listened to the committee speak on
this subject concerning what they thought our kids should be learning,
and we took it all with a grain of salt, believing that nobody would
ever take these people seriously.  As I compare what they propose in
the "guidelines" compared to what my teachers expected of us when I was
in high school, I am astounded at the extent to which foreign language
instruction has been "dumbed down" during the thirty years of my career.

This all reminds me of "1984" or "Atlas Shrugged".  We seem to be back
to  rote memorization of "short utterances" rather than truly learning
the language.  I always tell my first year students that we are not
concerned with just learning how to say things, but rather we are also
concerned with learning how to FIGURE OUT HOW to say things.  I don't
want my students to be mere parrots who repeat stuff that they have
heard me say or that they find in the book.  I want them to acquire what
Chomsky might refer to as the structure which lies under the "surface"
data so that they become independent and self-sufficient

When I hear people ask whether we should go beyond the present tense in
the first year level I think back to my high school class in which we
did past, future, compounds, conditional AND subjunctives, and we were
expected to USE them as we wrote and spoke.  As I look back, I'm so
grateful that I had an old fashioned teacher who hadn't heard of all of
the new methods.  (She also taught Latin and algebra.)

After two years with her I went into the third year of French in college
and became aware very quickly that I understood more than many high
school teachers who in the same course, back for the summer to work on
their MAT's.  I don't mention that to elevate myself, just the gray
headed non-nonsense lady whose primary concern was to provide us with
the intellectual tools that we would need to succeed.  We didn't all
like her at the time, but as I look back, she stands as an idol on a
pedestal.  I really wish that I could do as good a job as she did, but
of course, she didn't have to deal with "state standards" and all of
that which would have held her, and us, back.

Richard Lee


97/06 From-->         Alicia Newton-Hamill <anewtonh@efn.org>
Subject:      Re: oral testing

Yes!!!  Having been in the same boat in my high school Spanish classes
and currently being a new high school Spanish teacher, I am VERY
concerned with what our state (Oregon) is doing in second language
standards as well as what my department considers "sufficient" for first
year students.  We completed present tense, present progressive, and
various idiomatic expressions.  My first year of Spanish in high school
took me through subjunctive!!  Yes, the argument can be made that, while
I had learned the conjugated forms, I did not know how to use the
tenses, but being exposed to them definitely helped me put things
together in the next three years faster than if I were to learn one or
two tenses a year!!

I've been trying to find a happy medium between what seems to be the
"old school" method and the oral proficiency focus; I think both
approaches are valid and purposeful.  Any thoughts on what a "middle
ground" curriculum might look like?  I'm trying to focus on multiple
intelligences and teaching comprehension through personalization.  I'd
love to hear your thoughts.

Alicia Newton-Hamill


Response to the above
97/06 From-->         "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez" <lhart@pop.erols.com>
Subject:      Re: oral testing

Wait a minute, hold the phone!!  Am I to understand that the oral
proficiency focus in schools has now been interpreted as: "Teach them
ONLY what is in each proficiency level description before you present
anything in the next 'level' "? What an irony, given that for some time
the notion of looking for student proficiency in communicative skills
went hand in hand in a communicative approach with the idea of natural
input (which is fully blown in its complexity). This sort of level-by-level
approach would have nothing to do with the proficiency movement
except in (misused) name. Testing for proficiency is a means of
*evaluating* student learning/ acquisition; it is not a curriculum guide.
If proficiency testing was meant in any way to "inform" teaching, the
Hope was that it would enrich the structure-heavy classroom with
practice in real communicative activities, not that one would *replace*
the other, or that artificial classroom pidgins of narrowly-structured
language would replace the challenge of real language in all its glorious
complexity and subtlety.  How far to the letter do we take this? Are we
supposed to teach students to "speak haltingly"?

As Alicia suggests, language learning is a constantly iterative process
of passing through the same material over and over until it becomes
(guess what) automatic, fluent, all the while adding to the vocabulary
and scope of communication. Note that no one ever reached automaticity
without longterm exposure, which is why you bring it all in early and
then keep bringing it back.

I also firmly believe that language proficiency is NOT the only goal of
the language classroom; one should also come away from language study
with a better understanding of how language works; of how human thought
is encoded in language -- differently in different languages with subtle
shades of difference in meaning or emphasis, but in then end,
universally human. That means there will be some level of structure
(whether grammatical or semantic or textual) that is itself the focus of
intellectual challenge in the course, well before it is worked, kneaded and
molded into the learner's stride.

No either/or, Alicia. Stick to your guns. We CAN do it all. :-)

Cindy H-G


97/06 From-->         Bob Peckham <bobp@utm.EdU>
Subject:      Re: oral testing

I agree with Cindy.  While I know where students will be in their
journey at the end of the 2nd semester, I would be a fool if I had them
work on just the kind of speech they will be producing and listening to
limited and sanitary speech for listening comp.  I believe that even for
testing, allowing students to stretch for beyond what might be their
spontaneous range by adding a composed and practice element among
the others in their exam is a good thing.

I use authentic materials in my classes from the first level up. I just
have students do more and more with the authentic texts.  Students are
sure to get the same thing a number of times, and be expected to get
something more challenging each time.

None of the levels test out unless students are practicing at a higher
level.  You would not expect a miler to run a sub 4 minute mile who
could not run a sub 50 second quarter mile.


E. Grading of Oral Proficiency

95/10 From-->   Brad Pearl <bpearl@airmail.net>
Subject:        Oral Proficiency Grading Template

Fellow Listero's,
I am trying to come up with a few things to look for when judging
whether or not someone is speaking the language, any language, well. I
have a few ideas of my own, but would appreciate your professional input.
My categories so far are:

Integrates new vocabulary when speaking
Speaks without fear
uses appropriate accents
Rolls the R

What I am trying to do is sit down with the students later and have
something concrete that will assist them in improving their FL.

Your comments and suggestions are really appreciated.

Brad Pearl


95/10 From-->   Carla Sudbeck <CAS035@ACAD.DRAKE.EDU>
Subject:        Re: Oral Proficiency Grading Template

>I am trying to come up with a few things to look for when judging whether
>or not someone is speaking the language, any language, well.
>Brad Pearl sent this on the 26th and suggested that one criteria would be
>Integrates new vocabulary when speaking.

I think it would also be important to include a wide vocabulary base .
The more words one can use the better one can express oneself, this
leads to better communication which equal (in my opinion) speaking a
language well.

Carla Sudbeck


95/10 From-->   "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez (Cindy H-G)" <LHART@VMS1.GMU.EDU>
Subject:        Re: Oral Proficiency Grading Template

One of your marks of good speaking, I have a problem with:
integrates new vocabulary when speaking

Only a learner sharing a learning context with another learner can judge
whether someone speaks well, by that criterion. How about:
uses a variety of words; has synonyms and alternate ways of saying the
same thing (in idioms, rephrasing, etc.)

Cindy H-G


95/10 From-->   Brad Pearl <bpearl@airmail.net>
Subject:        Re: Oral Proficiency Grading Template

I, Brad, wanted to know if this was one of a variety of criteria that
could be used to measure increased proficiency in speaking:
>integrates new vocabulary when speaking

Cindy replied:
>Only a learner sharing a learning context with another learner can judge
>whether someone speaks well, by that criterion. How about:
>uses a variety of words; has synonyms and alternate ways of
>saying the same thing (in idioms, rephrasing, etc.)

To carry the discussion forward, aren't I, as the teacher, sharing a
learning context with the other learner, the student? What I am trying
to get the students to be able to do is integrate new vocabulary that we
have studied into their vocabulary. Let's say for a moment that I
substitute what you said above. Am I still looking for the same thing? I
am interested in the difference.

I am also looking for other things you would look for when assessing
oral proficiency.

Brad Pearl


95/10 From-->   Michele Whaley <MWhaley@mail.asd.k12.ak.us>
Subject:        Re: Oral Proficiency Grading Template

I am a Russian teacher, who got a copy of an amazing UT NEH grant
rubric/oral test book which is meant to accompany our textbook, and it
has a lot of good ideas. The rubric measures oral proficiency in five
areas: vocabulary, fluency in task completion, structure/grammar/
comprehensibility/pronunciation, and cultural appropriateness. I know
that Tom Garza and John Watzke were at the head of this wonderfully
written project, but I've lost the head page with all the credits
(oops). One of the nice parts of the project is that it was written with
some humor, as you'll see from the first rubric!

The students get the assignment and rubric in advance. I'll quote from
the first assignment and the vocabulary rubric so you get the idea, but
if you want a copy of a couple of the assignments/rubrics, send me an
SASE with a note about what you want, and I'll get it off.

I. Scenario: The current president of Russia has arrived at a school in
the US on an official visit. The president has a bodyguard, so there is
some confusion as to which person is the president. Two students have
been selected to welcome the president.

II. The task. The students introduce themselves to each other. They
discuss which person they think is the president. One finally gets up
the nerve to greet the person. They exchange greetings and names and the
student introduces his/her friend, and the president intros the
bodyguard. Finally, they all say goodbye.

III. Rubric:
A. Vocabulary points:
1: lacks basic vocabulary; president wonders whether the school has a
Russian program or not.
2: often lacks needed words; somewhat inappropriate usage, task
incomplete due to insufficient vocabulary.
3: occasionally lacks basic words; generally appropriate usage, enough
words are exchanged to allow for introductions and saying goodbye 4:
mostly relevant words used in all part of the task; little or no
inappropriate usage
5: rich and extensive vocabulary from the chapter, including
supplementary vocabulary intro'd by the teacher; very appropriate

Michele Whaley


95/10 From-->   "Dr. Lucinda Hart-Gonzalez (Cindy H-G)" <LHART@VMS1.GMU.EDU>
Subject:        Re: Oral Proficiency Grading Template

I guess, Brad, that what has led me astray is your speaking of an Oral
*Proficiency* grading template. If you are interested in measuring
something like the use of new vocabulary, then you are looking at what I
would call *achievement*, which may or may not coincide with
proficiency. Oral proficiency is the ability to communicate
effectively in some range of kinds of situations and communicative
events, while oral achievement is the mastery of material taught or
presented, progress made from some point to another (implicit in the
word "new" in relation to vocabulary). It is possible to show that you
can use a list of words in sentences tossed someplace into a
conversation; in fact it makes a nice parlor game or class exercise,
but using those words may not result in the most effective
communication. Conversely, it is possible to communicate very
effectively, using words that were never presented in class while
failing to use any of the words that were presented. I would call that
person proficient, but not someone who has achieved the specific lessons
of the class.

Put another way, proficiency should be able to be evaluated by any
proficiency tester whether the testers knew what book was used in class
or not; proficiency is in relation to communication, not in relation
to the curriculum. If you want to evaluate how effectively your material
has been assimilated, that's achievement.

Cindy H-G


95/10 From-->   Bill Heller <BuckBuck11@aol.com>
Subject:        Re: Oral Proficiency Grading Template

You made a simple request and the linguistic nitpickers seem to have
taken over. <sigh>

Proficiency is a process and not a station at the end of the metro.
Towards that end, most of us use a textbook as ONE of the tools that we
use. I wholeheartedly agree, that we should encourage students to expand
their vocabulary to broaden their communicative possibilities. In the
school game, we encourage by rewarding with a higher grade. When I
evaluate speaking tasks, I certainly take into account whether or not
the students have incorporated the new vocabulary from the present unit
into their skits, dialogues, or interviews. Some grading structures that
I've seen reward students for using the most basic vocabulary and
structures possible so as to avoid errors.

As a matter of fact, I often have a secret word or two from the unit
selected before the groups begin to offer their dialogues to the class.
When the first person says the secret word, I ring a call bell and they
get 5 bonus points. It gives incentive for students, when plotting their
dialogues to work in some of the new vocabulary and structures.

In more direct answer to your question about rubrics, I'm working on
that very issue now. On tasks that I grade on 10 points, I tend to use a
more holistic rubric. On oral projects based on 100 points, I make
categories and then offer points for each. What I"m working on now are
the descriptors. Here's one 100 point scenario I'm playing with.

Appropriateness and Comprehensibility (30) Vocabulary (25)
Accuracy [=read Grammar] (25)
Pronunciation and Accent (10)
Creativity (in Problem Solving) and Humor (10)

Obviously, if the communicative task is not accomplished, a score of
zero is "awarded."

Appropriate and Comprehensible are terms that have special meaning to
New York State teachers. These terms have well defined meanings for our
Proficiency and Regents Tests.

I'm still working on it and I'm sure folks might skew the points
differently based on their values, but these are mine and I stand by

When writing the criteria for the grammar structures, for example,
students get highest points for using the structures required for the
task correctly.

The next level, however goes to those who attempt the correct structures
and sometimes miss. Lower points are given to students who use the
present tense all the time, no matter how accurately it is rendered.

Rubrics are a lot of work to construct, but I have found that they save
tremendous time and give much more feedback to the students. The key
seems to be in using them in evaluating instructional activities and not
only at exam time. I am working with a writing rubric that I've
developed with my Level III and IV. I found that their rewrites were
significantly better because they had more to go on than only the
underlined grammatical errors (that I still do with a highlighter
marker) They also asked more questions and rewrote entire sections
working on content in addition to structure. I'm still refining it, but
it's getting closer to what I want.

Brad, I encourage you to try one on one task and then evaluate it and
then tinker with it. The most important thing seems to be to start with
something and then go from there.

Bill Heller


96/09 From-->   James May <JaimeMayo@aol.com>
Subject:        Retakes on oral quizzes?

I am going to start oral testing in Spanish 1 this week. Obviously, they
don't know a lot but they should be able to greet people, introduce
themselves, and ask and answer how they feel and where they're from.
Every year I am uncertain whether I should allow them to be retested if
they make a mistake and want to do it over after they've found out what
they did wrong.

What do you think? Thanks.

James May

Response to the above:

96/09 From-->   Paul Conley <pconley@batnet.com>
Subject:        Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

If I were one of your students, I'd probably feel less stressed about
Spanish and more appreciative of my teacher.

Paul Conley

96/09 From-->   John Young <reospeeder@earthlink.net>
Subject:        Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

I like this idea, James. It seems like an issue of whether we want them
to come out of our classes knowing how to do something versus having a
neatly documented label (OK, grade). If we consider the oral as a
formative test--one that offers feedback to us and the students on their
way to *control* of the language--then retakes are a great idea, and
welcomed by the students. Of course, a formative test is a benchmark
preparing for a summative test (one-shot, "the real thing",
grade-worthy). I've experimented with this, and liked it. The students
were less stressed, more willing to try. Many are so intimidated by oral
tests, that the retake option helped them get past the fear. The only
problems I had were:

(1) Retakes take a lot more time, and it's already hard to schedule
one-on-one time for oral tests;

(2) Some kids got pretty cavalier about preparing for a test, knowing
they could retake it if they blew it. Usually, the cavalier ones didn't
do much better on a retake, however.

(3) Some of the kids who got it right the first time were annoyed that
they might have put in extra effort to practice, while others were
"getting away with" not working. That's not completely true, but
that's how it was perceived.

I tried to handle #1 by scheduling retakes after school or at lunch (not
my favorite options, but OK). For #2, I tried two things: one is to
lower the retake grade to A- (first-take success got an A, and A+ if
they dazzled me). The other was to make them simple pass/fail grades.
They kept taking it till they passed it, or it was a 0. For #3 I offered
a special activity to those who passed first--a video, games centers,
free browsing through French materials, etc., while I caught up with
retakes. This also helped #1.

I'd like to hear how others handle the 1-on-1 problem (i.e., what
everyone else does while I'm testing one person), as well as ideas on
retaking tests.

What a great idea to start them early on oral tests. That has got to
build their confidence and comfort level for orals. Bon courage.

Mary Young


96/09 From-->   "Marilyn V.J. Barrueta" <mbarruet@pen.k12.va.us>
Subject:        Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

James -- I've been allowing make-ups for many years. The only thing I
regret is the number of students who don't, believe it or not, take
advantage of them!

Marilyn V.J. Barrueta

96/09 From-->   HANKINS <bouy@unicorn.it.wsu.edu>
Subject:        Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

my opinion is that as teachers, we ought to be concerned with over all
learning rather than an actual test score. to promote such learning,
allowing students to re-take an oral exam to clear up any mistakes would
be beneficial. perhaps this re-take should not be used to inflate test
scores as they did not have the material mastered at test time. but it
couldn't hurt to provide opportunities for your students to practice
speaking the correct way.



96/09 From-->   Timothy Mason <mason@cie.fr>
Subject:        Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

Some of the problems raised - fairness, and pupils not working for the
initial test - might be overcome if you make it clear that marks can
only be raised on retesting by a certain number of points. So, for
example, you could tell them that they can score a maximum of 2 points
extra if the original mark was out of 20. Their original score remains
the baseline.

Timothy Mason


96/09 From-->   Meryl Jacobson  <jaco3@earthlink.net>
Subject:        Reply: Oral Testing

I often assess my students' oral abilities by assigning an audio area.
The students could be asked to greet people, find out where they live,
how they are, etc. They record their responses on cassette tape, at
home. This way, they have the opportunity to listen to themselves and
self-correct errors in pronunciation, grammar, vocabulary, etc. I grade
the final product using a rubric. I like doing home audio cassettes
because it encourages the students to spend more time determining an
accurate way to communicate the assigned task. This method can also be
used for regular activities from the text book. Instead of writing
answers, sometimes I ask the student to record their answers orally. I
am obviously not using the audio tape to test for spontaneous ability to
speak; I am trying to train the students to make themselves understood

Try it. I've had great results with this!

Meryl Jacobson


96/09 From-->   "Sharon L. Kazmierski" <soneil@novia.net>
 Subject:       Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

At one school I worked at, we used a mastery learning model and students
had to be given the opportunity to retake any quiz or test that we gave.
One problem that this caused was that many students simply did not study
for quizzes or tests because they knew that they could retake any of
them for full credit. This is why I think that Timothy Mason's
suggestion is a good one. Instead of allowing them to get 100% on the
second quiz, tell them that they can raise their score to a maximum of
90%. This is high enough to be an incentive to retake a quiz or test,
but low enough that they are going to want to try hard the first time.

Sharon L. Kazmierski


96/09 From-->   Cynthia Johnson <cwj@atl.mindspring.com>
Subject:        Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

Absolutely !!!! In our FL dept. retakes on any test/quiz on which a
student scores below 83 are encouraged. On the retake (must be after
school, at teacher's convenience) the highest possible score is 83 - so
it's always better to score well the first time. But w/ this policy kids
who are really trying get the second or third (or fourth) chance they
deserve. And BTW, our enrollment has skyrocked the last few years :-)))

Cynthia Johnson


96/09 From-->   Valerie McGinley Marshall <crcrts@mailhost.tcs.tulane.edu>
Subject:        Re: Retakes on oral quizzes?

Are you familiar with the ACTFL method? Do you agree with it? I
personally believe it is vital that you allow them to make some
mistakes. Are you retesting them immediately? I guess that I am
interested in how you are conducting the oral tests and evaluating them.

Valerie McGinley Marshall


96/09 From-->   Katherine Paxton <KathyP11@aol.com>
Subject:        Re: Retesting

When I taught Russian via satellite, and had 300 students in 30+ school
sites, my policy on retakes was: one per grading period. I also dropped
each student's lowest test score. These two policies seemed to help
relieve some test stress. The students knew if they really had a
baaaaaadd day, that score would be dropped from their semester grade.
And if they had two bad days, they could retake the most recent test.

Also-- the retakes were somewhat different from the first tests.
Sometimes I'd take the same graphic and just change the vocabulary... I
actually had one student who had memorized the first test and inserted
the (now incorrect) vocabulary into the second! ;)

Katherine Paxton


96/09 From-->   "J. Vincent H. Morrissette" <gvincent@mbay.net>
Subject:        Oral testing

There is oral testing for various purposes. In my first year course, I
include an test part of each lesson's quiz. The purpose of this quiz is
to assess accuracy of pronunciation and intonation; minimal
communication, if any at all, occurs between the student and me. I find
that in the past two years I have had the best pronunciation in my
40-odd years of teaching. I take great pride in it and so do my
students. They *know* when a person's pronunciation to French is
accented. But when this occurs on tape or on video, we stop to discuss
the reason for and the nature of the accented speaker; cultural, not
always faulty, reasons account for the accent.

In class we do many communicative activities during the four lessons
that comprise the unit. At the unit test, the oral interview involves
but quantity and quality of speech produced in the exchange. It is not
at all the OPI; it is a relaxed atmosphere, with no floor and no
ceiling, which encourages students to express themselves as much as they

I do think that, in addition to such textbook-bound oral tests, a more
formal assessment needs to take place. At the end of the second year we
administer a test that was devised by the California Foreign Language
Project in conjunction with the California Language Teachers Association
by secondary language teachers for secondary language students in a
secondary school setting. The test is based on the text-type that a
student produces in speaking. It has rubrics as well as ready-made
verbal and visual prompts; what's more, it can be administered during
class and requires a maximum of seven minutes for each interview. That
is the reason it is called the "Classroom Oral Competency Interview". My
department has found this assessment tool to be better suited to the
needs of the secondary school structure and to the kind of progress we
can expect from youngsters at the secondary level. The OPI requires too
much time to administer, allows too much latitude to the examiner
regarding questions (not a bad thing, only it such latitude necessitates
much pre-interview planning and on-the-spot reactions on the part of the
examiner and secondary school teachers I've known do not have that much
energy to invest in such a concentrated amount of time) and has a scale
that is not often encountered at the secondary school level. We are
quite happy, therefore, with the COCI and plan to continue using it
across the language department.

By the way, a similar instrument was finalized under the aegis of the
same organizations for writing competency last summer at the University
of California at Santa Barbara.

Hope this shed some light on the question. I'd like to hear more from
colleagues about oral testing.


96/09b From-->  "J. Vincent H. Morrissette" <gvincent@mbay.net>
Subject:        oral testing

Katherine Munro writes:

>What is this Californian test?

It is a test that was developed in CA by and for language teachers. It
consists of as real a life interview as possible between a teacher and a
student in a classroom setting. The interview lasts seven minutes at
most, deals with topics that are found in all first and second-year
texts (family, friends, school life, leisure activities, food, travel,
vacation, etc. ), and is based on impromptu and/or ready-made questions
of a verbal or visual nature. The interview is usually taped for later
assessment. Assessment is made of the text-type a student uses most of
the time during the interview: utterances of memorized formulas;
decomposed formulas to suit situations and/or personalized used of
language at the sentence level; development of a concept or theme at the
paragraph level. A floor (that is to say, the level at which a student
feels very comfortable) must be firmly established at the start of the
interview and several probes must be offered the student to test the
limits (ceiling) of his/her abilities in the course of the interview.
Ceilings bring about linguistic breakdown or great discomfort on the
part of the interviewee.

>If there are no copyright issues, would you be able to post it to the list (or
>to me, if it is too large an attachment), or at least describe its content in
>some detail? Is it language specific?
>Thanks, from far-away Australia.

I am not sure about the copyright issues, but I do know that we who own
the testing materials are bound not to distribute the training and
prompt manuals to professionals who have not undergone training
themselves. IMHO it is a fair policy for both the tester's and the
testee's benefit.

I know there are training sessions prior to CA language conferences and
to the ACTFL conference. There has been training every summer at the
University of CA at Santa Barbara for the Classroom Oral Competency
Interview (COCI) and for the past few years for its companion
The California Writing Competency Assessment (CWCA). If you invite me to
Australia, I'll come and train language teachers (no the test is not
language specific)... Can we work out a deal???



96/11 From-->   Anne-Marie BrownAlb@aol.com
Subject:        Re: testing (oral tests)

> Why do you think there are very few people ever giving an oral
> quiz/test? lack of experience with it and lack of judgment. I find it
> sad and a waste of time, to keep putting everything on paper.

To this comment, RBoswell VestalNY (Binghamton U.) responded:

>It'd be nice to test the students orally, I suppose, but I don't do it. What
>the students could say in French was a somewhat diff. version of what
>they could write and I found out what they knew from their writing.
>That was enough."

I know that I am privileged in that my French classes vary from  10 to
17 students (private school--grades 5, 6 & 7 and AP).  However I
STRONGLY believe in an oral test. Students have an oral part (speaking
and listening) on EVERY quiz and test--it usually amounts to 30% of the
grade of the test or quiz.  Understanding a spoken language and speaking
the language are important factors and do not require the same skills as
writing the language. Some students have a difficult time with spelling
but can speak well, others can write very well but lack in spontaneity
when it comes to speaking or have difficulty with pronunciation. All
these factors should be taken into consideration in a student's

RBoswell also wrote:

>Most wanted to speak in class and did so. They didn't have to be rewarded
>for doing so. I find the giving of points or daily grades or whatever that
>some of our listeros refer to every time the student opens his mouth to be

Although I would not use "ludicrous", I agree. I guess it is one way to
encourage participation..!      If it works, why not?



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