How to evaluate speaking skill?

Hi everybody! My name is Valeria. I'm a teacher of English from Argentina. I'm carrying out a research paper on How to evaluate speaking skill. Have you ever reflected upon this issue? What aspects do we have to take into account when evaluating speaking? How can we help our students develop those aspects? What do you think about this?It would be a great pleasure for me to read your feedbacks and include them as part of the investigation.Thanks in advanced.Yours,Valeria.  

Fernando Díez Gallego's picture
Fernando Díez G...

Hello Valeria and everyone,
I think you have hit the target. I mean, speaking could be one of the most important skills for a reaserch, because speaking may be the most important or usual means of communication.
See it this way: if a student can speak in English, up to some point you can say that person manages communicating in that language. Evidently the skills of listening, reading and writing are as well of a paramount importance, and necessary. Anyway, roughly speaking, I usually think that person manages English, because he or she can actually speak in English.
I've worked out a lot on speaking. My doctorate theme encomprises speaking.
Teaching English = (a  too general view, I do know) helping and teaching students how to speak... and communicate by speaking.
I'd tell you the following things, if any useful to you.
First thing to take into account when evaluating speaking: the message the learner conveys in English, in other words, the communication which is held among two people. Don't get me wrong with what follows: "forget" about accuracy of grammar. That person is trying to tell you something, and you are trying to say something, trying that person would understand your ideas, your messages.
Honestly most of my class-time is devoted to speaking, to connect people through communication. The classes are entirely in English: the classroom is a special place, say, an environment where English is the only language among us. I "don't understand Spanish": it's a funny treat in which I act out as if I would not understand Spanish. And it's their business to solve the problem of communicating with me. Even I make faces because "I don't understand".
An anecdote: a few times my new students have asked me what country I'm from: and I'm Spanish like most of them. They are already in the classroom when I come in, waiting for me, for the teacher.
But if the students have close to no idea of English? I don't care. It's good for them to listen, massively, in English. And furthermore I use miming, eye-contact, the board, drawings, examples, cognate words, humour, fun. I can assure you they, admirably, little by little, with the big aid of grammar and vocab, they achieve even to utter full sentences, even to maintain conversations.
There is no room here to tell you more things. I stop here. I hope all this stuff would be helpful and give you some light for your research paper (and some help to other colleagues of ours, I'be be glad).
Sorry, I feel I've spoken too much about myself; anyway it's the nice experience I've had.
Best for your research paper.
Fernando M Díez
Teacher of English. Teacher trainer. - Granada

Lynne Evans's picture
Lynne Evans

It's easy if you put yourself in the place of a native speaker and decide how hard you need to work to understand the student. Ask yourself how much effort a native speaker would have to put in to understand what the student wants to convey. How well does he/she get the message across?
I have written an article on Global Assessment marks for speakers on Suite101.com if you'd care to read it. It gives more details than I have time to give here. I hope this helps you. Good luck with your thesis.

rolandgill's picture

According to the University of Pittsburgh's Katz business school, "in a recent survey of recruiters from companies with more than 50,000 employees, communication skills were cited as the single more important decisive factor in choosing managers." Since effective communication skills are so important to success in business, it is important to locate and eliminate weak points in your own communication skill set.

Sherry Moore's picture
Sherry Moore

It's important you mind the following aspects while evaluating speaking skills.
1. Phonological Features of speech
2. keeping to the rules of language
3. Paralinguistic devices
4. Communicative functions
5. Social meaning
6. Conclusion
Good Luck with your research!

albertrayan's picture

Hi Valeria
Speaking is the most important language skill.  How do we evaluate the speaking skill of learners of English or those who communicate in English?  
An effective communicator conveys their message accurately, appropriately and fluently.  We can say that accuracy, fluency and appropriacy are the criteria for assessing a person's communicative competence.
The following can be used as a checklist to evaluate a person's speaking skill:

  • Does the speaker have clarity of thought?
  • Does s/he have clarity of expression?
  • Does s/he have fluency?
  • Does s/he speak coherently?
  • Does s/he have sufficient vocabulary?
  • Does s/he speak grammatically correct English?
  • Does s/he demonstrate sociolinguistic competence?
  • Does s/he pronounce words intelligibly?

Please, click on the following link to read my article on developing learners' speaking skills:
Dr Albert P'Rayan

Divya Loona's picture
Divya Loona

Hello!!!!!!!!!               To assess speaking skills of native speakers and learners,we need to evaluate their usage or correct grammar in their language..second and the most important thing is how good they are in flency and are they able to convey their point of view accurately to others.next comes their utilisation of vocabulary in language and their comfort level with english language..means are they comfortable in speaking english or they putting lot of efforts in putting across their point of view.Thanks and Kind regards,Divya Loona.

ioana_p's picture

In my opinion, the most important criterion when evaluating the speaking skill is the students' ability to convey a message. According to the level they have reached you will then evaluate the complexity of the structures they use, the vocabulary (if they use words related to that specific topic), the grammar, the fluency, but also their accent (there are teachers who prefer the American accent and there are teachers who prefer the British accent). We can help our students to acquire the speaking skill by speaking in English during the classes, by presenting them audio and visual materials in English, by encouraging them to use English even during their breaks.P.S: would you be so kind to write the conclusions of your research? It would be very helpful for all of us.Good luck!

celia19O5's picture

I am not a teacher....but I am going to be. I have graduated from university. As I see speaking skill seems to be the most difficult one for English learner...Everyone has their own way of speaking English and as a result, it is not easy to value...I have read all the comments here and it is very good for my teaching later. Thanks all for sharing :)

Fernando Díez Gallego's picture
Fernando Díez G...

As ioana_p has said, I would also thank you a lot if reporting to us the results of your findings. It would be interesting for all of us: speaking skill could be sort of the most important skill. All in all, make the report just if it's not tough to you: you may be hectic with your work. So, feel free. Thanks a million Fernando M Díez Gallego Teacher of English and Teacher trainer. Granada, Spain. http://fernandoexperiences.blogspot.com

Konstantin's picture

Hi everyone! Evaluation of speaking skills, I think, comprise but not limited to1) evaluation of ability and willingness to communicate; 2) width and depth of vocabulary use, and correct structure of sentences; 3) general knowledge on various topics from everyday life/use;4) correct pronunciation and ability to depart from mother tongue accent.