Testing listening

Listening as a receptive skill
– does not involve behaviour which can directly be observed
– allows objective scoring (e.g. a multiple-choice format)
2. Listening skills – what exactly are we testing?
macro-skills (related to type of listening tasks the candidates are expected to perform, and thus bearing on course objectives):
= listening for specific info
= obtaining the essence
= following directions
= following instructions
= identifying various functions of structures (question as a request Could you pass.. tags for confirmation)
3. Selecting types of texts for the listening test:
ideally it should be authentic speech but take the following into consideration:
= type of sample: radio broadcast, tape from an English language textbook, commercial tapings of novels, fairy tales, etc. our own recordings of NSs
= BUT be careful about regional accent! speed! socio-economic register
= quality of the recording (e.g. background noise)
depending on the task → can vary between 20 sec (a single sentence) and a 10 min passage (testing lecture-type comprehension)
4. Test techniques (avoid techniques involving other abilities, esp. putting a large burden on the memory)
multiple-choice → NB! may involve a large demand on processing where the test-taker needs to keep four different possibilities in their minds
short answer → may require some writing
information transfer
note taking
partial dictation
5. Criterial levels of performance (e.g. IELTS bands)

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