Ways to Evaluate ESL Students’ Speaking Skills
After you conduct a successful ESL online class, it is imperative that you know how to assess
your students’ performance in speaking English. Here are some methods I use when I
evaluate my students’ speaking skills at English Gang.
Have your own rubric.
Although we have our own evaluation system at English Gang, I find it easier to make the
final evaluation when I have my own rubric, which is slightly adjusted from the one that English Gang offers.
It’s fine to do this as every student and every teacher is different.
Since I want my comments to be more specific and personalized, I have my own checklist for speaking
strengths and weaknesses. To make your own rubric, you start with the English Gang table. You can
indicate in the rows the different competency levels by using numbers. For example, you can put 5 as the
highest – meaning that the student went beyond your expectations. Then for the rows, you can put
different targets for speaking skills such as clarity of speaking.
Listen to how your students enunciate words carefully.
Even though it is impossible for your students to have the same pronunciation as you,
pronuciation is one of the English fundamentals your students must learn. Being
knowledgeable in vocabulary is not enough to clearly express themselves. Clear delivery of
words is vital. Understanding what one says is impeded if words are mispronounced,
which can also start to hurt the student’s confidence. Thus, you should listen carefully for
fluency, pronunciation of words which have different spellings and sounds, and intonation.
Assess your students’ vocabulary.
Knowledge of vocabulary definitions and vocabulary pronunciation are 2 different
things. A student is not automatically good at speaking if they are good with vocabulary.
You should motivate your student to pronounce words correctly and know their right usage.
In my case, noting how they enunciate and use words for certain situations is helpful. This is
helpful even if I only ask simple and short questions during my English Gang classes.
The importance of grammar has been a long-standing debate. However, I think grammar
should still be taught and applied in speaking. It should not be taught as strictly as in writing
though. Therefore, for me, grammar is secondary in speaking. Obviously, every teacher is different, but that is just my view.
In my classes, I list down all the grammatical mistakes such as subject-verb agreement and
word order on a piece of paper. Since it will be too time consuming to correct the student
each and every time, and it is impossible to memorize all the errors, I utilize this method. Then, I
explain the errors and the proper corrections when the time is right. You must give ample time for this when you
do the wrap up in your lesson.
Observe how your student interacts.
It is not enough that your students can say what they want. They should be able to sustain a
conversation to interact properly with other English speakers. When you ask short questions, does your student seem to
comprehend what you are asking, or are they answering in a robotic fashion? More importantly, your students should be able to
respond naturally and without having to revert to memory often. Yes, this is easier said than done!
Be careful in choosing your questions because an assessment should be completed first.
To sum it all up, evaluating a student’s speaking skill is not difficult. You just need to have
patience and follow the tips given. I wish you the best of luck in your next speaking class!