domingo, 27 de febrero de 2011

Analysis of a Speaking Activity

The following video shows an instance of Part 3 of the CAE Speaking Paper.


The analysis of the activity will focus on the following questions:

1- To what extent does the activity encourage or oblige participation from all the students?

Whether a mere rehearsal or the recording of an actual interview, the students are expected to participate in the activity. As a matter of fact, this is clearly stated by the interviewer right from the start, when the candidates are asked to talk to each other and come to a decision within a set limit of time.

This involves prioritising, speculating, selecting and negotiating between both of them. They should keep the conversation going, making use of different conversational strategies in order to do so. It is supposed to be neither a monologue nor an interview, with only one party prompting or asking questions and the other one answering them.

2- What examples can you find of conversational adjustments as students try to negotiate meaning, for example, asking for and giving clarification, repetition, furher explanation through paraphrasing?
Both students are supposed to come up with an equal share and diversitiy of conversational skills. Repetition, paraphrasing, or asking for and giving clarification are expected.

Examples of the latter can be found when listening to them during the stretch between 1.57min and 2.10 min; rephrasing is found during the first 1.30 mins of the recording; confirmation can be found within the same stretch of time (2.02min approx.); and there's an example of agreement towards the end (about 4.02min) when the girl in long sleeves agrees with her partner.

3- What examples can you find of students correcting each other?

There are no examples of this kind. There is a lot of reformulation, asking for clarification and incomplete sentences, but neither of them corrected each other.

4- How would you comment on the general level of accuracy in the students' language?

I would say that the general level of accuracy in the students' language is not bad (in spite of the last conditional sentence); however, I should have expected something a bit more daring for a CAE level. Hadn't it been presented as an inteview for this exam, it could have been thought it was being carried out by students at intermediate level. There were none of the perks expected at an advanced level of English- both candidates opted for plain language.

5- If the activity had a focus on some area of grammar or use of vocabulary, to what extent did this appear in the students' language?

The students had to express their opinions and come to an agreement. In order to carry do the activity, they are free to choose whatever item of grammar or vocabulary they feel like using; it is free production. Yet, they are expected to meet certain expectations, inkeeping with their level of proficiency.

When you have considered these points, decide whether you think it was an activity worth doing, and why. Would you change anything in a re-run of it?

Of course this is an activity worth doing. It is a realistic activity- I just wonder whether the topic is something you would usually have to decide about. But giving opinions and coming to an agreement are things people do in their everyday lives.

Still, there was considerable overuse of reformulation and incomplete sentences by one of the candidates, which -together with the fact that this student's speaking time was far less than her partner's- added to the feeling of not having contributed enough for a CAE interview. This does not mean that in my opinion the other candidate did better- actually, she embarked in a kind of monologue, almost ignoring the fact that she should have integrated her partner- a basic conversational rule.

If a re-run of the activity were carried out, I would emphasize that. This was not supposed to be a monologue, but an exchange of ideas, a dialogue in which both participants should listen to each other and let their partners talk. Otherwise, things like the following might happen in real life (0:27 to 1:55, though the whole interview is like a jewel for the fans)

1 comentario:

  1. Hi Normis!

    Some reflections quickly jotted down here:

    #3: Correcting their interactor would really seem inappropriate in the context of intercultural communication, wouldn't it?
    #4: As a teacher, how would you go about encouraging these learners into complexity and risk-taking? (BTW, "not bad" doesn't sound positive at all, does it?)

    Chuckled as I went through your last video clip... how do you come across such "jewels"?

    Clap, clap, clap!