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A blog for English learners and their teachers everywhere, initiated in 2010 with the contribution of students from the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland. More about me on the On-line Profile below. Welcome!

How to evaluate your students’ speaking and listening skills

At an ELT seminar organised by the British Council in Krakow on January 21st, I had the pleasure of attending a very interesting training on the topic of  “jazzing up” the students’ listening skills, delivered by Barbara Szybowska, which included a variety of graded listening activities based on 6 different songs. My favourite activity was a multiple choice exercise based on Sting’s song,  Englishman in New York. This also led me to contemplate some interesting cultural parallels I have been exploring on another blog of mine. 

During one of the many audience interaction moments in the seminar, I mentioned a listening activity that I was planning to do with one of my student groups the following week. This post includes a description of this listening activity that may be used with groups of any level. It was a real success with my group, so I warmly recommend it to any teacher interested. 

Here is how it works. Ask each student in your group to choose a favourite  song, look for the lyrics to it, and be prepared to read them fluently at the next class. It is best to have some extra lyrics at hand for the students who may have been absent.

Each student will read his or her chosen lyrics in front of their colleagues, who would assess the reading at the end, using the 5 criteria in the activity sheet below and a scale from 1 (for a very poor reading) to 5 (for an excellent reading). The teacher and the students’ peers are able to award marks to assess the reading, which allows for both the students’ speaking and listening skills to be put to the test.  

With more advanced groups, students should be able to explain the various marks they award to each other.

With lower-level groups students may be given a second shot at reading and being assessed. In the case of my group, the second reading, after a detailed discussion and assessment of the first, increased their score by a significant 10 to 30 %. 

Judges►

Questions

Student 1

 

Student 2 Student 3 Teacher
1. General impression: How well did you understand the text presented to you?
2. How clearly were the sounds articulated? (Think about pauses, the speed of the speech, word stress and rhythm.)
3. How was the speaker’s intonation?

 

 

 4. Attitude

 

 

5. Posture 

 

Score out of 5:                      

                            😦   1                   2                  3                     4                  5   🙂

 

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Filed under: 1►LISTEN▼, 1►TO DO, 3►SPEAK▼

4 Responses

  1. very very informative article guys.. it really helps me !

  2. Alina Alens says:

    Excellent! Glad to be of help and happy to get feedback 🙂

    Cheers!!! 😀

  3. Nwigboji franklin says:

    The contribution is somehow useful but to a low extent. When I read this passage,I did not understand the samples through which the listening and reading skills of students can be evaluated. What if I say that the listening ability of the students can be evaluated through the use of minimal pairs for them to differentiate the sounds they hear through oral/aural discrimination. Is it correct? To me,the way of evaluating listening ability of students are: (1) use of minimal pairs (2) brief narration and questioning (3) dictation. With these, I think the ability of the listener can be checked. My question now is: how can the speaking ability of the students be checked? Thank you.

    • Alina Alens says:

      Asking questions in order to improve performance is always going to reveal something of use/ relevant in any field, EL teaching included, so I commend you for taking the time to read this post, draw comparisons with your experience and write a comment on this blog.

      To get to your questions, my post presents one example of a speaking & listening activity I used to test my students’ ability to pronounce or articulate a text of their choice & their ability to listen & peer correct each other. There is nothing wrong with using the three methods you mentioned, if you find them more useful in your situation.

      As to your final question, there is no “set” answer to it. There are countless methods of testing the students’ speaking ability and I am reaaally, honestly, reaaally glad there is no number to them and there never could be. I don’t know about you, but I find that liberating, to say the least. 🙂

      Cheers!

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