In today's classroom, there are many demands placed on teachers' time for this reason, considerations must be given to the administration and the record keeping of the oral assessment.

1. Administration
Teachers need to select materials and determine if items are to be done individually, in small or large groups and for how long. They need to think about the specific directions required for students to perform the assigned oral task, and they need to ensure that students have had adequate practice and familiarity in performing these activities. Furthermore, they need to determine how to collect responses - tapes, observations, etc. They also need to provide an opportunity for students to be familiar with the format of the assessment (CALLA Handbook, p. 105).

2. Record Keeping
It is essential to set up an easy and effective record keeping system. Otherwise, a teacher who sees many different groups of students will not be able to rely on his/her memory to record pertinent comments at a later time.

Some suggestions for administration and record keeping of oral performance follow.


  1. Tapes
    1. Students are given blank tapes at the beginning of the year. They record the various assignments on the tapes as homework assignments.
    2. Students are given tapes and record an assignment at regular intervals (once a month, or once each 9 weeks) to document the development of their language skills and to see their progress.
    3. Teachers can set up several tape recorders in the corners of the room and send students to record their assignments, while other students are involved in written or reading work. The task and the directions can be written on a piece of paper next to the recorder. Students can be timed or can take as long as needed.
    4. Pairs of students can be asked to record some selected tasks. In a class of thirty, it means that the teacher has to listen to only fifteen tapes. The students can be asked to switch roles after the first task is completed to ensure that each student has an opportunity to demonstrate his/her ability to use a certain language function. This kind of assessment using student pairs usually lowers stress for students who may not like to speak into a tape recorder and/or who are nervous at the idea of speaking with the teacher on a one-on-one basis.


  2. Stations

    On occasion, teachers can organize their room in stations with each station focusing around a task. While students are at the speaking center, teachers can assess their oral language. Some suggested stations follow:

    • a listening center with tapes and listening activities (cloze or others)
    • a speaking center where students can do pair activities, narrate a story into a tape, sequence a story on tape (or for the teacher), practice on a dialogue, etc.
    • a realia center where students are involved in activities using realia, e.g., plotting their way on a map, ordering from a catalog, finding telephone numbers from yellow pages, etc.
    • a composition center where students have access to dictionaries and are involved in structured compositions, comic strips with blank bubbles, journal entries, etc.
    • a technology center where students access the Internet to complete searches

    Other possibilities include a reading center, culture center, creativity center.

  3. Student Self-Assessment

    Student self-assessment is another means of assessing a student's performance. Not all assessments have to be teacher-led. When students are involved in self-assessment, they gain more control over their own learning. They can self-assess using rubrics, checklists, journal entries, or learning logs. Self-assessment for class participation can be devised for one month at a time or for one week at a time. Following is a self-assessment checklist to be used by students engaged in cooperative learning or group work. Several other samples for self-assessment are available in this document.

    Conversational Skills - Self-Assessment


    In today's activity Often Sometimes Never
    1. I checked to make sure that everyone understood what I said.

    2. I gave explanations whenever I could.

    3. I asked specific questions about what I did not understand.

    4. I paraphrased what others said to make sure that I understood.

    5. I encouraged others to speak by making such remarks as "I'd like to know what ----- thinks about that" and "I haven't heard from -----yet" and "What do you think, -----?"


    Source: Scarcella and Oxford, 1992.

  4. Peer Assessment

    When students first become involved with peer assessment, they need to follow guidelines or developed criteria, so they can make constructive comments. Without such guidelines, students may be unsure of what they are looking for, especially since they are often unable to point to their own mistakes. As students become more comfortable with peer assessments, the need for structured directions becomes less obvious. Rubrics and checklists are especially efficient with peer assessment.

    Following is a checklist students might use when assessing their peers. It is most effective when students have had an opportunity to use this kind of checklist in advance.

    Prompt (In the target language)

    Tell me what you have to do this weekend?

    My partner's name: ____________________________

    My name: ________________________________






    My partner said…

    At least 5 sentences about what he/she has to do this weekend. He/she used a lot of vocabulary from the chapter.

    3 or 4 sentences about what he/she has to do this weekend. He/she used some vocabulary from the chapter.

    1 or 2 sentences about what he/she has to do this weekend. He/she used little or no vocabulary from the chapter.


    Source: Developing Speaking and Writing Tasks. Minnesota Language Proficiency Assessment, p. 17. 1999.

  5. Teacher-directed Activities

    Teachers can assess their students' oral language through brief interviews, presentations, or pair activities, while the other students in the class are involved in writing or reading activities. Students can come to the teacher's desk one by one to do their presentation, making sure that they are not blocking the view of the other students. By using a rubric, the teacher can limit the amount of note taking and can give the student immediate feedback.

    Some teachers create schedules for themselves, so that they are focusing on specific students each day. These rotations can be by working groups, alphabetical order, or seating. Other teachers make notes about individuals as needed, while still others use checklists.

    • Pat Kessler, a teacher on FL TEACH, randomly observes 5-8 students per day to concentrate on. This teacher draws names from their information cards filled out the first day of class to select the students. Each student is checked at least once a week. Students do not know that they are being evaluated each day, so they must always be ready. This teacher uses a chart to award a grade (a rubric can also be used). At the end of the 9 weeks, each student has 8-9 grades for daily participation which are added to the other classroom oral assessments grades.
    • Teachers may want to focus on one student, or on a few students at a time. In a classroom with 25 students, teachers may observe 5 students each day. However, all students should be observed within a given period of time.
    • Another teacher on FL TEACH (Richard Ladd) assesses his students 3 times a week on a rotation bases. Students do not know when they will be called upon. In a class of 30 he calls on 12 students chosen randomly to perform assessment A. Anyone who is not called for assessment A on that day is "off the hook" for assessment A. Everybody needs to be prepared for assessment B. The teacher calls on 12 students including one or two students who were called on for assessment A. By the time of the third assessment, he calls again on about 12 students, some repeaters from both A and B and some first time to be assessed in the week. If a student has done an extraordinary preparation and really wants to show what he/she knows, he/she is allowed to make the presentation on that day. Using this system, all students are assessed at least once, some twice, and a couple three times. The following week the same kind of rotation takes place.

Record Keeping

  1. Classroom Observation

    Adapted from LEARN NC forum postings

    • Attach index cards on a clipboard; tape across the top of the cards, attaching the bottom cards first. Write names on the bottom of cards so that they are easy to see. File cards in students' folders as they are filled.
    • Use mailing labels with students' names; then attach labels to the appropriate folder of portfolio. Mailing labels can be preprinted or teachers can write students' names on them as they make notes. Since they, like sticky notes, can be quickly stuck into students' folders, they have advantages of already being together for each individual at conference times.
    • Make a calendar or grid with a grid per objective or cluster of objectives or a grid for each week. List every student and record observations as needed, or use the grid to make notes on all students about a specific topic.

      Grids have the advantage of allowing teachers to glance at information about the class as a whole related to a learning target. They can be filed into a notebook or folder for future reference. They have the disadvantage of not having all information about students in individual folders.

    • Use a class roster with the names of the students down the left-hand side and information concepts, or processes to be assessed across the top. You may use numbers, notes, or letter grades to record information about each student.

      Some teachers use one recording sheet for each student with many items addressed on the page. Other teachers list groups of students on the entire page and use it to record information about specified objectives.

    • Electronic records include: computer programs and electronic notepads.
    • Use student reflections on their oral performances and class participation from student journals and responses to open-ended questions.
    • Teacher's notes can be taken on lesson plan book or teacher journal.
    • Teachers may also consider opportunities for students to help with record keeping.


  2. Rubrics.

    A generic rubric can be posted on the wall and used for any kind of oral presentation. It can be used by the teacher or by students when they are involved in peer assessment. If a grade is given, the rubric can be weighted so that certain criteria are worth more points, or it can be a four-point rubric with all 4's equaling 25 pts.

  3. Telephone

    If feasible, the telephone can be used to conduct some students' interviews in the evening. However, the use of the telephone is better suited with students who have developed higher levels of proficiency, because they do not rely on the physical and visual cues as heavily as beginning learners.

    Deborah Blaz, in an e-mail on FL TEACH, mentioned that she also uses the telephone with her students. She has a "voice mail" and she has students calling overnight and leaving specified messages. She plays the messages back to the class and has them take notes on what they are hearing.

    (D. Blaz includes additional suggestions in her book A Collection of Performance Tasks and Rubrics: Foreign Languages. Eye on Education. 6 Depot Way West, Larchmont, NY 10538, Phone 914/833-0551.

  4. Use of technology

    For the more adventurous teachers, computers also have applications which allow for a variety of oral communication. Some computer software (e.g., or the dialpad available as part of HOTMAIL) or Internet browsers have features which allow for telephone conversation and/or recording to take place over the Internet.


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