To effectively teach English as a Second Language (ESL), you must first accurately assess your students' speaking levels to ensure they receive the correct lessons. If a student is placed in the incorrect class level, whether too high or low, his ability to learn will be hindered. There are a few capabilities that should be tested when assessing a student, including reading, writing and speaking. To test speaking levels, there are a number of factors that should be considered.

Step 1

Give the student a few different topics to choose from. Let the student have a few moments to prepare, and then engage him in a five to ten minute conversation on the subject. Assign a point based system from zero to five, with zero indicating no proficiency and five indicating native speaking skills, to assess levels in four areas.

Step 2

Test for pronunciation. It's okay to make allowances for an accent, but the goal is comprehensibility.

Step 3

Test for comprehension. To test high, the student must be able to fully understand your replies and questions.

Step 4

Assess fluency. This includes both the size of vocabulary used by the student and the speed and ease at which questions were answered.

Step 5

Evaluate clarity. Both grammar and content fall under this category. Look for sufficiency of information -- short answers may be fluent and clear, but if important information is left out, clarity ratings will be lower. Likewise, proper grammar is important for creating a clear message.

Step 6

Add up the total points to decide which level best fits the student.