ESL Speaking Tests: Some Options

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ESL Speaking Test Options

There are a few different options for ESL speaking tests, all of which have their advantages and disadvantages in terms of teacher effort, ease of grading and how well it measures what you’re trying to measure.

ESL Speaking Test Option #1: Speeches for ESL Students

Some teachers put a big emphasis upon this, but a speech is more an academic thing to me and not a true test of communication skills so if you teach a conversation class, it’s not ideal. Communication, is more of a 2-way thing and is far better judged by the following speaking test styles I’ll mention below. But, if you’re going to do the speech thing, check out:

Ideas for Presentation Projects

ESL Speaking Test Option #2: A Dialogue

This is something that students prepare at home and perform in front of the teacher, or class. Many of my fellow teachers do this, but I’m not sure this is ideal either. Generally, the best students will write it, and then the rest of the team will memorize. However, to me, memorization isn’t really a true test of English communication. In general, I much prefer something where the questions/answers can’t be known ahead of time. This is how real communication actually works.

ESL Speaking Test Option #3: Question and Answers, with another student

This happens between 2 students, chosen at random on the day of the test. These days, this is by far my favorite way to conduct ESL speaking tests, since the teacher can just listen and not act an examiner at the same time which makes it far less exhausting. I’m all about the student-centered as well and so anything that can put the pressure on them and not on me is my goal. Check out this ESL speaking rubric for some ideas on how I evaluate this kind of exam.

ESL Speaking Test Option #4: Questions and Answers, with me

This is where the teacher has a short conversation with the teacher, individually. This is a very accurate way to test students but the huge negative is the exhaustion factor, especially with very low-level students. There is basically nothing more tedious than having 1-1 conversations with someone who is just waiting for the teacher to ask them question after question and having people only give 1-2 word answers in return.

Don’t Like to Waste Your Time?

Nobody likes wasting their time, in testing, lesson planning or doing admin. Here are ten tips that are going to save you a ton of time on all those things. Although the post is written for teaching in a Korean university, most of the principles are general enough to be applicable for a wide range of situations.

Top 10 Time-Savers When Teaching in a Korean University

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2 Comments

  1. Pingback: Multi Level ESL Classes: How to handle them

  2. Pingback: ESL Teacher Burnout: Here's How to Avoid It -

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