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Middle school speaking test---horrible
« on: October 30, 2012, 08:41:19 am »
I did my 3rd year middle school speaking tests yesterday and they were horrible.  I followed some suggestions here on Waygook and had them memorize a dialogue and then I prepared some questions from their textbook (they had to answer 3 out of 9). 

I have been teaching this class since Sept. and with holidays and cancelled classes I have seen them about 7 times but I was still surprised at how horrible they were.  The majority of students had not memorized the dialogue and 75% could not answer any of the questions.   I spoke to my co-teacher and we are just going to scrap the question results because "too many kids would fail".

What can I do to help these kids speak and listen?  They are horrible.


Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2012, 10:53:15 am »
I have a few questions. Are you teaching from the book or are you free to do what you want? Is the dialogue from the book? If it is, I'd assume it was more your co-teacher's responsibility to make sure they learn that material and not yours. How far in advance did you give the students the questions and did you work with them to write answers to those questions?

I've done interviews and memorization a lot and those results aren't surprising. Most students just don't care enough to memorize dialogue or answers to interview questions. But if you care to, it could help to dedicate a lesson to going through the questions and giving your students different sentence stems to answer with. Maybe dedicate a lesson to the dialogue as well if its important to you. You can use scrambled sentences to practice memorization.


  • Chicagohotdog
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Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2012, 11:09:53 am »
I tied it in to my rewards program.  I give out 'English Bucks' and I offered $2 for the student who gets the highest score.  I got two perfect scores out of that - and I wasn't grading particularly easy either.  Maybe having some kind of incentive would help?

Compare that to when I did them last semester (before I started using an incentive program) and it's two different worlds. 
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  • stemarty
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    • September 02, 2011, 12:20:42 pm
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Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2012, 12:29:40 pm »
Maybe you just need to make the speaking test a bit more easier?

Memorizing is a good skill, but only my Advanced students are capable of doing it.
I recommend you let the students read the dialogue (if you choose to do that) or written answer in their speaking tests.

For our speaking test I did something quite similiar to an Interview but I tried my best to prepare my students as much as I could.

Attached is the lesson plan, if you are interested.

Also on a side note: I tried something with my boys that was successful each year I did it.
For a speaking test I had my students act out a drama performance. I created a script about a Prince and a Princess who run away to get married. In groups the students were asked to write an ending and perform it.

Here is a video of my students performance with subtitles (sorry aboutt he quality) If you want the lesson plan with the script, examples, and marking sheet let me know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brf3hYu255U&feature=g-upl
« Last Edit: October 30, 2012, 12:32:28 pm by stemarty »


Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #4 on: October 31, 2012, 09:00:36 am »
Thanks for the ideas and tips. 

I am responsible for about 4 pages in each chapter and am expected to base my lessons on the book material with an emphasis on speaking and listening.

The dialogue and questions were directly taken from "my" pages and they had the dialogue for one week to memorize.  The questions from the book included answers and we had covered them in class.

I spoke to my co-teacher about your speaking test "stemarty" and might give it a try.

Thanks again.


Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #5 on: October 31, 2012, 09:15:59 am »
Thanks for the ideas and tips. 

I am responsible for about 4 pages in each chapter and am expected to base my lessons on the book material with an emphasis on speaking and listening.

The dialogue and questions were directly taken from "my" pages and they had the dialogue for one week to memorize.  The questions from the book included answers and we had covered them in class.

I spoke to my co-teacher about your speaking test "stemarty" and might give it a try.

Thanks again.
With only one week to memorize the dialogue, and what I'm assuming is low motivation to do so (if your kids are anything like mine) I'm not surprised by those results. Unless its super important to you that all your kids do well with memorizing the text these results wouldn't bother me. I don't like teaching memorization, and my kids don't like learning it. But if you must, try some fun ways to get them to review the dialogue if possible.


  • Wintermute
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Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2012, 10:25:40 am »
I dont really understand the point of the memorization.

I just write 100 questions and make students answer 3. This way no two students get the same question. and they have no idea what any of the questions are prior to the exam.

From the sounds of things, your students are low level and have low motivation. This speaking test does nothing for them. It wont help them get into a good High School, and they will most likely never see the score. The only thing 3rd years care about are the standardized test.

I think just keeping it easy, fun, and light hearted yields the best results.

Quote
What can I do to help these kids speak and listen?

Sooo, how do you be a teacher? Well there are plenty of resources online to help you, including this site. That is a very broad question with thousands of answers.

I think the most important thing is getting them invested and interested in what you are teaching, that way you wont have to make the kids speak, they will want to. Best of luck.


  • Loudine
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    • August 29, 2011, 10:54:44 am
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Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #7 on: October 31, 2012, 10:57:56 am »
My school's speaking tests last year were absolutely shocking - extremely stressful to kids and I felt that the way they were conducted were really unfair.  This year I am in charge and the students are 100% happier, less stressed and getting better results.  For my grade 3's I wrote 10 questions, and included stuff like "What is your favourite kind of music, who is your fav singer & why" - that is 1 question.  Another question is "Tell me about your family" - the there are easier ones like "What is your favourite colour?" and "What will you do after school today?"  I wrote example sentences, where they could change keywords to reflect their individual answers.  For the lower level kids, I asked the Korean teachers to translate the q's and a's for them and to let them memorise their own answers.  For higher levels, they are free to say whatever they like.  For the SUPER low levels I ask them to repeat after me if I gave them a chance to answer and they couldn't.  I want them to learn how to actually converse and express opinions, as well as to not be so scared of speaking English!  I also found that after the last round of speaking tests, where I was super patient and spoke very slowly and clearly, students general attitude towards me and English as a subject was vastly improved.   Hope this helps!


  • Nobbie Q
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    • June 17, 2012, 05:15:58 pm
    • Seongnam, South Korea
Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #8 on: October 31, 2012, 12:47:35 pm »
Yeah. I feel you. You need to prep these kids in advance. If you don't, and just ask them questions on the spot of the test, they won't do well. I did that last semester and it wasn't that good.

This sem, I prepped them a week in advance. I gave them all the questions and they could use the class to work on it. I told them I was gonnna ask them only 2 of the questions given. It's all based on the speaking part from the textbook. I've attached what I did for the grade 2's. ONe chapter was based on giving directions, so I made them do a filll in the gap activity for a new map with new directions. Also the other chapter was about agreeing or disagreeing with a statement and giving a reason. They had to fill in this worksheet and memorize whether or not they agreed.

Students did a lot better this way. Alos make sure you record their voices when they talk, to avoid any kind of future complaints.


Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #9 on: October 31, 2012, 02:22:43 pm »
Thanks again everyone.  I am lucky that I can implement some of these great ideas for grade 1 and 2!


  • echo47
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    • March 05, 2013, 12:23:50 pm
Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2013, 09:23:31 pm »
Maybe you just need to make the speaking test a bit more easier?

Memorizing is a good skill, but only my Advanced students are capable of doing it.
I recommend you let the students read the dialogue (if you choose to do that) or written answer in their speaking tests.

For our speaking test I did something quite similiar to an Interview but I tried my best to prepare my students as much as I could.

Attached is the lesson plan, if you are interested.

Also on a side note: I tried something with my boys that was successful each year I did it.
For a speaking test I had my students act out a drama performance. I created a script about a Prince and a Princess who run away to get married. In groups the students were asked to write an ending and perform it.

Here is a video of my students performance with subtitles (sorry aboutt he quality) If you want the lesson plan with the script, examples, and marking sheet let me know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brf3hYu255U&feature=g-upl

I know this is an old post, but could you send me those documents? I have to prepare my students for their speaking test next week.


Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #11 on: May 09, 2016, 02:56:31 pm »
Maybe you just need to make the speaking test a bit more easier?

Memorizing is a good skill, but only my Advanced students are capable of doing it.
I recommend you let the students read the dialogue (if you choose to do that) or written answer in their speaking tests.

For our speaking test I did something quite similiar to an Interview but I tried my best to prepare my students as much as I could.

Attached is the lesson plan, if you are interested.

Also on a side note: I tried something with my boys that was successful each year I did it.
For a speaking test I had my students act out a drama performance. I created a script about a Prince and a Princess who run away to get married. In groups the students were asked to write an ending and perform it.

Here is a video of my students performance with subtitles (sorry aboutt he quality) If you want the lesson plan with the script, examples, and marking sheet let me know.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=brf3hYu255U&feature=g-upl

Any chance you can send me the info for this stemarty?? I feel like this would be a great speaking test idea for my third graders to get everyone involved and motivated for a grade. You can either email it to me or post it here - thanks!!


  • daning24
  • Newgookin

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    • May 09, 2016, 03:09:48 pm
    • South Korea
Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #12 on: May 09, 2016, 03:23:34 pm »
Wonderful!! I would really appreciate if you posted the lesson plan and all that is included with it. It looks really enjoyable and beneficial. Great idea!!


Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #13 on: May 10, 2016, 06:54:16 am »
Wonderful!! I would really appreciate if you posted the lesson plan and all that is included with it. It looks really enjoyable and beneficial. Great idea!!

I found the script in another place on Waygook! Here is the link: http://www.waygook.org/index.php?topic=32424.0


  • theheretik
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    • June 14, 2013, 03:20:52 pm
    • Pohang, S. Korea
Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #14 on: May 10, 2016, 07:43:26 am »
I use these two ppts as practice for the speaking test.  The picture descriptions--First I describe the Alice anime to them and see if they can draw it.  Then I split the class into two groups and have one describe the picture while the other draws.

Spot the Difference is popular and takes even less prep.  Enforce complete sentence answers if that's part of the speaking test grade.


  • withmatt
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    • March 04, 2013, 08:32:24 am
    • Guri
Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #15 on: May 10, 2016, 10:52:55 am »
If you have time, always try to incorporate one or two "warm up questions" to let them build confidence.

What's your name? How are you today? etc.


  • Albaloo
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    • March 01, 2016, 03:45:44 pm
Re: Middle school speaking test---horrible
« Reply #16 on: May 10, 2016, 12:33:46 pm »

Here is a video of my students performance with subtitles (sorry aboutt he quality) If you want the lesson plan with the script, examples, and marking sheet let me know.


That video is awesome, I've been wanting to do something like this with my kids but we barely even have enough time to finish the textbook stuff :-(

My school does the speaking test grade differently. Every week, I give the kids a dialogue (6-8 lines for the high level classes, and about 4 lines for the lower levels). The students are told which part they will be and which part the teacher will be before hand. They have 2 weeks to come to the office and do the dialogue with me from memory, and I sign their card if they can do it correctly. Each semester there is about 10-12 dialoagues; the students don't know this, but they are allowed a couple freebies in case they miss some.

Drawbacks: Students are too shy to come to the office or they forget. About 90% of my high level students have done all the dialogues, and about 20% of my low levels. To fix this, I now allow a few minutes at the end of class for the low levels to do their dialogue, and it's been working out. With straight memorization, they sometimes aren't actually learning the meaning behind the words. I like to sometimes change my part to catch them off gaurd and see if they can still say their part (this is for the high levels). Also, being the kind teacher that I am, I prepared a bulletin board where I post the current dialogues for each class (this can be a pain to do, but it helps them). You have to set office hours too or else you'll be bombarded by students at 4 pm on the last day of every one.

I would suggest doing a point system too, maybe 1,2,3, with 3 being no mistakes. That way if the students miss one, they can still do it late for 1 or 2 points, but not full credit. At the end of the semester, we add up what they have done, and scale it to whatever percent of their exam grade will be the speaking part.