Assessing EFL Speech: A Teacher-Focused Perspective
With the aim of better understanding the difficulties that non-native teachers of English as a foreign language (EFL) face when assessing oral skills, we conducted an educational training activity for in-service teachers, involving action research and reflective practice. In the first part, 27 non-native teachers were asked to use the scales of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) to assess a number of authentic EFL speech samples taken from a learner corpus. Their assessment was examined quantitatively as well as qualitatively and compared to that of two native professional raters. While the analyses highlighted a good degree of agreement between the teachers as well as between the teachers and the experts, they also confirmed the often-observed tendency for non-native raters to be more severe in their evaluation of L2 performance than native raters. The results also indicated that teachers and native experts do not base their overall assessment on the same aspects of the spoken performance. For the second part of the study, we designed group activities and discussions to help the teachers reflect on their own practices and learn from those adopted by others. The analyses showed that the teachers did not feel well-equipped to assess speech and that they would benefit from appropriate training in this area.
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