Saturday, November 8, 2008

Scenario-based assessment of socializing skills

By Noriko Ishihara - University of Minnesota, USA / Hosei University

[An excellent way to test students language abilities is in a realistic setting. But how can that be done? Noriko Ishihara explains.]

How to do a scenario-based assessment of socializing skills. In my view, it's very close to assessing sociolinguistic/pragmatic ability, which has usually been done with a situational approach.

In this instruction and assessment, learner language is elicited using realistic scenarios and the teacher chooses from a range of language- and culture-focused features to assess, for example,

- directness, politeness, and formality
- organization/discourse structure
- language form, semantic strategies, word choice
- tone (verbal and non-verbal cues)
- understanding and use of sociocultural norms
- the extent to which the speaker's intentions match the listener's most likely interpretation

The selected feature(s) can be assessed using various rubrics and/or checklists by the teacher and learners themselves, which can be used as rather formal assessment or part of everyday instruction/informal assessment. If anyone is interested, I'd be happy to share a paper in press that details this approach with various sample scenarios, learners language, and sample assessment using authentic learner language.

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