• Interactional competence with and without extended planning time in a group oral assessment

      Lam, Daniel M. K. (Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2019-05-02)
      Linking one’s contribution to those of others’ is a salient feature demonstrating interactional competence in paired/group speaking assessments. While such responses are to be constructed spontaneously while engaging in real-time interaction, the amount and nature of pre-task preparation in paired/group speaking assessments may have an influence on how such an ability (or lack thereof) could manifest in learners’ interactional performance. Little previous research has examined the effect of planning time on interactional aspects of paired/group speaking task performance. Within the context of school-based assessment in Hong Kong, this paper analyzes the discourse of two group interactions performed by the same four student-candidates under two conditions: (a) with extended planning time (4–5 hours), and (b) without extended planning time (10 minutes), with the aim of exploring any differences in student-candidates’ performance of interactional competence in this assessment task. The analysis provides qualitative discourse evidence that extended planning time may impede the assessment task’s capacity to discriminate between stronger and weaker candidates’ ability to spontaneously produce responses contingent on previous speaker contribution. Implications for the implementation of preparation time for the group interaction task are discussed.
    • What counts as ‘responding’? Contingency on previous speaker contribution as a feature of interactional competence

      Lam, Daniel M. K. (Sage, 2018-05-10)
      The ability to interact with others has gained recognition as part of the L2 speaking construct in the assessment literature and in high- and low-stakes speaking assessments. This paper first presents a review of the literature on interactional competence (IC) in L2 learning and assessment. It then discusses a particular feature – producing responses contingent on previous speaker contribution – that emerged as a de facto construct feature of IC oriented to by both candidates and examiners within the school-based group speaking assessment in the Hong Kong Diploma of Secondary Education (HKDSE) English Language Examination. Previous studies have, similarly, argued for the importance of ‘responding to’ or linking one’s own talk to previous speakers’ contributions as a way of demonstrating comprehension of co-participants’ talk. However, what counts as such a response has yet to be explored systematically. This paper presents a conversation analytic study of the candidate discourse in the assessed group interactions, identifying three conversational actions through which student-candidates construct contingent responses to co-participants. The thick description about the nature of contingent responses lays the groundwork for further empirical investigations on the relevance of this IC feature and its proficiency implications.