How to Test ESL Speaking to Assess Levels
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.
1 Give the student
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.
2 Test for pronunciation
Test for pronunciation. It’s okay to make allowances for an accent, but the goal is comprehensibility.
3 Test for comprehension
Test for comprehension. To test high, the student must be able to fully understand your replies and questions.
4 Assess fluency
Assess fluency. This includes both the size of vocabulary used by the student and the speed and ease at which questions were answered.
5 Evaluate clarity
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.
6 Add up the total points
Add up the total points to decide which level best fits the student.