Assessing Speaking Skills 2

Arthur Hughes (2003) also lists representative tasks for assessing oral ability:



Expressing: likes, dislikes, preferences, agreement / disagreement, requirements, opinions, comment, attitude, confirmation, complaints, reasons, justifications, comparisons

Directing: instructing, persuading, advising, prioritizing

Describing: actions, events, objects, people, processes

Eliciting: information, directions, clarification, help

Narration: sequence of events

Reporting: description, comment, decisions and choices



Informational skills: express, describe, explain, make comparisons, analyze, apologize, summarize, etc.

Interactional skills: respond, express (dis)agreement, indicate, suggest, argue, elicit, repair breakdowns, etc.

Skills in managing interactions: initiate interactions, change topics, turn-taking, come to a decision, end and interaction





1 You have 5 minutes to read the task and think about what you want to say.

2 If there is anything which you don’t understand, please ask the teacher who is with you.

3 You can make a few notes if you want to. The examiner will not look at them.

4 After this 5 minute preparation time, you will go into the exam room and talk about the subject with a teacher. The examiner will listen.

What makes a good friend?

You are going to talk to the teacher about what you value in your friends.

Look at the suggested information to be incorporated below:

Kindness    Honesty   Fun to be with    Support   A 'shoulder to cry on'  
Shared interests   Other...

Do you think it’s better to have one or two really close friends, or a wider circle of less close friends?

What are the qualities in yourself that you think your friends value?

There is an English saying, “Blood is thicker than water”, meaning that family relationships are more important / reliable than relationships with friends.

Do you agree with this?

You can see that when you design an oral test item, you should be specific in providing information necessary enough so that the test-taker will be guided to talk what you would expect him to say.





Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers. (second edition). Cambridge: CUP.