Vol. 2, Issue 10 (2015)
Continuous and comprehensive assessment of speaking skills in English in schools and colleges provides a holistic approach to English language acquisition
Author(s): K. Pramila
Abstract: Foreign language proficiency is measured by the ability to communicate effectively in the language. This ability is demonstrated in the understanding of authentic aural materials and in the ability to generate spoken language for real-life purposes. A competent user of the language must be equally proficient in all the four skills of the language. Teaching a skill at the exclusion of other skills is impossible because language is an integrative activity and it is wise to teach more than one skill at a time. It has become almost a necessity to be competent in speaking in English in all professions, hence, it is imperative for teachers to teach and assess speaking skills. But, language testing has taken the form of testing knowledge about the language: grammar and vocabulary. The main purpose of communicative language tests is to assess the learner’s ability to use the language in real-life situations. In testing speaking skills, the focus should center on producing the appropriate and meaningful messages rather than grammatical accuracy (Kitao & Kitao, 1996).rnIn the Indian education system, assessing the speaking skills of students is not a priority because of the absence of a well-accepted speech curricula. Assessment must support instruction and assessments must be well motivated and well administered to produce desirable results. Communicative language tests are those which make an effort to test language in a way that reflects the way that language is used in real communication; they focus on language meaning and function rather than language form. An analytic rating like the rating scaling of IELTS and BEC assesses and capture the speaker’s performance on a variety of categories, such as delivery, organization, content, and language. There is a dire need for assessment of speaking skills in the curricula as it will serve as a potent force in promoting the quality of communication education in schools and colleges.