In the UBELT Speaking Test, examiners assess the overall communicative success of the candidate - this includes four areas of communication:
- Fluency and interaction
- Language resource
The following indicate some of the points examiners consider.
Examiners ask themselves:
- How quickly and easily does the candidate catch onto what is said?
- Do they understand the whole question or only part of it?
- Can the candidate only understand if I speak slowly and use simple language? How often do I have to rephrase in simpler, slower language?
- Can the candidate guess meaning from context?
- Can they understand typical colloquialisms; can they get the gist of less usual colloquialisms?
- Can they cope with native speaker speed?
The candidate may hear individual topic words, but not remember the context, so they misunderstand or do not address the focus of the question.
Fluency and interaction
Some typical problems which can negatively affect communication and tend to indicate lower levels of proficiency-
- Lots of pausing to remember the perfect word; sometimes the candidate actually stops speaking or gives up instead of trying to say it another way
- Sometimes candidate speech is ‘staccato’: they say two or three words together, and they rarely link to the next group of words (i.e. no cohesion-a bit like a telegramme)
- The candidate is reticent or does not have enough to say- answers are very short; they do not ‘show off’ their language
- Interaction is a strain/struggle- too many pauses, and the candidate only takes very short turns. The examiner has to coax candidate continually.
- The candidate does not expand on their answers- they give no examples or explanations
- The candidate repeats the same vocabulary again and again- no variety
- The candidate talks too much and or too fast; their speech becomes garbled, their pronunciation suffers, and they do not answer the examiner’s questions or interruptions, so they go off topic too much.
The candidate seems to have memorised all the answers.
Language resource and accuracy
Some typical problems which can negatively affect communication and tend to indicate lower levels of proficiency:
- Lack of precise, descriptive, qualitative language- candidate only uses general vocabulary with little ability to be more precise even when asked. (e.g. “The drug is very good.” “My colleagues are nice with me”)
- Word formation is consistently inaccurate. Typical errors: good advices, I should checking it, I recommendate it, I like to helping people, I was very stressful, this drug is addicted, I like learn practice things, I don’t doing it every day
- Word order - typical errors: the only country which have not that thing is…; there stay my family
- Confused meaning - e.g. usually/used to/ be used to; you don’t have to take too many aspirin (compared to: you shouldn’t take too many…); sensible/ sensitive; this type cancer is not popular/common; a short age/ a young age; make/do; I like my job too much/ a lot
- Pronunciation is very strongly influenced by first language
- Enunciation is poor
- Grammar gaps - no articles; no pronouns with verbs; little comparison language or it is very inaccurate; lack of verb tense range, or consistent verb tense confusions; missing words. Examples: this job difficult; it not more difficult than I think; I testing the patient with machine; is important have; it’s better to between; I don’t know anyone do something wrong; it seems as I will working in shop.