• Development of empirically driven checklists for learners’ interactional competence

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; May, Lyn; Lam, Daniel M. K.; Galaczi, Evelina D.; University of Bedfordshire; Queensland University of Technology; Cambridge Assessment English (2019-03-27)
    • Exploring the potential for assessing interactional and pragmatic competence in semi-direct speaking tests

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; May, Lyn; Inoue, Chihiro; Willcox-Ficzere, Edit; Westbrook, Carolyn; Spiby, Richard; University of Bedfordshire; Queensland University of Technology; Oxford Brookes University; British Council (British Council, 2021-11-11)
      To explore the potential of a semi-direct speaking test to assess a wider range of communicative language ability, the researchers developed four semi-direct speaking tasks – two designed to elicit features of interactional competence (IC) and two designed to elicit features of pragmatic competence (PC). The four tasks, as well as one benchmarking task, were piloted with 48 test-takers in China and Austria whose proficiency ranged from CEFR B1 to C. A post-test feedback survey was administered to all test-takers, after which selected test-takers were interviewed. A total of 184 task performances were analysed to identify interactional moves utilised by test-takers across three proficiency groups (i.e., B1, B2 and C). Data indicated that test-takers at higher levels employed a wider variety of interactional moves. They made use of concurring concessions and counter views when seeking to persuade a (hypothetical) conversational partner to change opinions in the IC tasks, and they projected upcoming requests and made face-related statements in the PC tasks, seemingly to pre-empt a conversational partner’s negative response to the request. The test-takers perceived the tasks to be highly authentic and found the video input useful in understanding the target audience of simulated interactions.
    • Learning oriented feedback in the development and assessment of interactional competence

      Nakatsuhara, Fumiyo; May, Lyn; Lam, Daniel M. K.; Galaczi, Evelina D.; Cambridge Assessment English; University of Bedfordshire; Queensland University of Technology (Cambridge Assessment English, 2018-01-01)
      This project developed practical tools to support the classroom assessment of learners’ interactional competence (IC) and provide learning-oriented feedback in the context of Cambridge English: First (now known as B2 First). To develop a checklist, accompanying descriptions and recommendations for teachers to use in providing feedback on learners’ interactional skills, 72 stimulated verbal reports were elicited from six trained examiners who were also experienced teachers. They produced verbal reports on 12 paired interactions with high, mid, and low interactive communication scores. The examiners were asked to comment on features of the interaction that influenced their rating of candidates’ IC and, based on the features of the performance they noted, provide feedback to candidates. The verbal reports were thematically analysed using Nvivo 11 to inform a draft checklist and materials, which were then trialled by four experienced teachers in order to further refine these resources. The final product comprises (a) a full IC checklist with nine main categories and over 50 sub-categories which further specify positive and negative aspects, accompanying detailed description of each area and feedback to learners, and (b) a concise version of the IC checklist with fewer categories and ‘bite-sized’ feedback to learners, to support use by teachers and learners in real-time. As such, this research addressed the area of meaningful feedback to learners on IC, which is an essential component of communicative language and yet cannot be effectively addressed via digital technologies and therefore needs substantial teacher involvement. This study, in line with the Cambridge English Learning Oriented Assessment (LOA) approach (e.g. Hamp-Lyons and Green 2014, Jones and Saville 2014, 2016), took the first step to offering teachers practical tools for feedback on learners’ interactional skills. Additionally, these tools have the potential to be integrated into the learning management system of the Empower course, aligning classroom and standardised assessment.