For almost three weeks straight, I was giving speaking tests to my students. I have 34-38 students in each class and 20 (50-minute) classes. So that’s a total of about 680~750 students. I talked to 12-18 students per class. My first year students (sophomore equivalent) had to talk to me for 1~1.5 minutes. They were given a minimum of 15 minutes to prepare before the test (a new set of questions each week.) My second year students (junior equivalent) had to talk to me 2~3 minutes. They were given a minimum of 1 week to prepare. After the students told me their memorized speech, I asked them some follow-up questions.
I scored them A-E (A=100 and E=60). The grading guidelines I created looked something like this:
- A: Great sentences: The student has a wide range of vocabulary and good grammar. They answered questions in complete sentences.
- B: So-so/Easy sentences: Students had some grammar mistakes and/or used very simple sentences in their prepared speech. They did not answer in complete sentences but the response time was fast.
- C: Few sentences. They prepared only a few sentences (less than 30 seconds worth). They did not answer in complete sentences. They were quick in answering questions with disjointed words.
- D: No sentences: The student maybe had 1 or 2 simple sentences (or riddled with bad grammar) prepared. They had to really think of their sentences and really think to answer my questions.
- E: No English: The students could not really answer my questions and had nothing prepared. (Less than 10 words spoken)
(Not all students were this easy to pigeon-hole though…For example, I had a student with amazing prepared sentences (A quality) but couldn’t answer a question in a sentence to save her life(B-C quality).) Anyway, here were the prompts I created (1st year students got 3 prompts per week; 2nd years had 5):
- Perfect Boyfriend/Girlfriend
- Best Vacation (2nd week: worst)
- A famous Korean in history
- What you like/don’t like about high school (divided for 1st years; together for 2nd years)
- favorite movie
These tests were extremely exhausting; I would take a nap before my walk with Sue almost every night and go to bed early. Students C-E required that I speak at least half of the time and/or struggle to piece together what they were saying. By the way, the average was a C. There were a depressing amount of A’s…maybe 3-6 per class. Fortunately, I didn’t have to follow the Korean teacher way of grading. In other words, I could give however many As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Es I wanted.
Speaking Test summaries/interesting little stories: movies.