Validity of assessing speaking - revisiting communicative competence
Professor Constant Leung, King’s College London

This paper examines the notion of speaking as a construct from the point of view of emergent language practices in linguistically diverse educational contexts. Drawing on empirical data collected in ethnically and linguistically diverse English-speaking school and university classrooms, it will be argued that spoken language in live interaction is considerably more complex and fluid than is currently envisaged in theoretical models of communicative competence. Furthermore, the data suggests a degree of mismatch between the spoken language that actually occurs in classroom contexts and many of the criteria/descriptors in assessment frameworks such as the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages.

It will be argued that assessment of speaking should focus on interactional meaning-making by participants. This approach recognises that, inter alia, communication is driven by participant goals and topic content, and that pragmatic norms of social interaction are fluid and negotiable, rather than fixed as they tend to be in high-stakes testing and assessment. The discussion will conclude with some remarks on the need for an expanded notion of speaking that values emergent ‘local’ language competences and practices in contemporary conditions.

Högre seminariet, Institutionen för språkdidaktik
Onsdag 3 oktober 2012