When Speaking Counts, Students Are Motivated to Learn Languages

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Focus on Speaking Students tell us what they want to learn-we (educators) just have to listen to them! Students would rarely say they want to learn to do grammar drills or read or write a foreign language.
Instead, they say they want to learn to SPEAK the language! This doesn't mean that reading, writing, and grammar shouldn't be taught-but it does mean that teachers and programs should emphasize SPEAKING if they want to motivate their students! But if it is to count, speaking must be tested.
Often teachers will say that it is too difficult to assess speaking-and it is (or rather was) difficult.
Some teachers have huge classes that make it impossible to interview each student individually.
Many teachers do not have access to sophisticated language labs.
They don't have time to develop taped SOPI-like tests and they find audio tapes extremely time consuming to rate.
That is why districts such as Pittsburgh Public Schools and Anchorage School District purchased OWL Testing Software to make it easier to administer and rate speaking proficiency.
The software makes it easy to create speaking tests and easy and far less time consuming to rate speech samples.
Best of all, the software will function in any PC lab or library, etc.
that is on the school's intranet.
The Pittsburgh annually assesses the speaking proficiency of more than 1300 students in Chinese, French, German, Japanese, and Spanish-- in grades 5, 8, level 3 high school, and grade 12.
This allows students to see their progress over the course of the years and provides the district with longitudinal data to assess program effectiveness.
Teaching and assessing speaking proficiency is one sure way to motivate students to reach higher levels of overall language proficiency.
Some students actually asked to be tested during non-testing years! So be sure to listen to your students when they say they want to learn to SPEAK the language!
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