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Assessing Oral Ability Through Role Plays

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Florence Mah

Joined: 09 Dec 2003
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Dec 09, 2003 3:32 am    Post subject: Assessing Oral Ability Through Role Plays Reply with quote

Hi everyone,

I'm new here. I wonder if anyone has used role plays to assess students' oral skills? I enjoy giving my students role plays because they are mostly college students who are pursuing a degree in Business or Computing. The thing I am trying to design is a fair and effective method to assess them in role plays. Any ideas?
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Joined: 16 Jan 2003
Posts: 18
Location: Rayong, Thailand

PostPosted: Tue Aug 17, 2004 11:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Florence

I've assessed through role plays and found they can be very effective. However, how you could use them depends a lot on your teaching envirnment, especially whether you have to have all your students in the room while you test or could have them come individually or in pairs to test; how many students you have to test; how long you have to test the group and the level of the group. Without knowing this, I don't really know if these are options for you, but ...

1. If you had a class of up to about 20 who could come at set time or wait somewhere else until ready, paired students could carry out an information-gap activity (lower level) or role-play a discussion (higher level) based on a scenario you provide. Meanwhile, you observe and grade.

2. With a class of up to about 20 who must be in the classroom with you, you could have several role-plays for students to practise with a partner while you are testing. You test one pair at a time, providing a different activity for them to be tested on. This should cut down on others just eavesdropping/copying what has been said before. You still observe and grade.

3. With larger groups you could test students as per 1 or 2 but you'd have to design the info-gaps or role plays in a way that gave everyone an equal chance to speak and that prevented students from just parroting their peers. You also have more of a problem with group dynamics.

4. With larger classes and a small classroom, you could nominate students for testing on a particular day while their clasmates continued with something else. However, you'd have to change the activities and ensure the tasks were equally difficult.

and so on...

Whichever way you grade them, you have to have clear critera for marking which the students should also be aware of. The system should be simple enough to do quickly but sophisticated enough to allow a spread of marks and for strengths in one area to balance weaknesses in other. Beyond that, it depends a lot of the level. For example, at the lowest level, you could assess on how successfully/easily the task was completed, how accurately the language produced was, how easily the speaker was understood. In this way, you'd be testing fluency, accuracy and pronunciation.

Hope this helps
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