Testing Advanced Communicative Competence Through Role-Play

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Describes a method for examining oral communicative competence in a foreign language using an open form of role play. The method's reliability and accuracy lies in its basis on what is learned in the classroom. (CB)

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... On its uses in conducting research in FL acquisition, see Stevens (1985; 1987). Finally, Littlejohn (1989) and Evans et al. (1987) treat its uses in FL testing. ...
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From the Preface This book was prompted by our concern for the present state of teaching and learning practices. Having experienced `good' practices (either through attendance at various simulation conferences or through witnessing eagerness and interest in our own students) we wished to ask why such practices were not as widespread as we think they should be. ... We hope that this book will contribute to the current moves towards educational modes which also involve learning by doing, rather than those which exclusively require people to sit passively in front of pedagogic dinosaurs. It is not that experiential learning is anything new; primary school teachers have been doing it for years. It seems somewhat ironic, though, that children so often find learning enjoyable and actually look forward to school, whereas many older students dread the next class. In further and higher education, the dominance of the word `lecture', and the existence of a profession of `lecturers', underlies this hidden agenda. In recent years the establishment of academic and practical debates about communication, and the emergence of entire courses on it (e.g. Communication Studies) have inevitably highlighted questions about what is and should be happening between people (rather than students and teachers). We have largely trapped ourselves in our schools into expending almost all of our energies and resources in the direction of preserving patterns and procedures that make no sense even in their own terms. They simply do not produce the results that are claimed as their justification in the first place — quite the contrary. The new education can be achieved in a number of ways. . . . Although the word `game' has connotations that are not usually associated with intellectual growth, there are few concepts or skills that could not be learned with a rare degree of understanding and durability through an educational game approach. In fact, a `game approach' permits the development of a learning environment that is much more congruent to what we know about learning than any other approach now used in schools (Postman & Weingartner, 1969; emphasis in original). Our interests are in simulations which recognise (rather than take for granted) the importance of communication dimensions and perspectives. The chapters in this volume can be considered as collectively constituting a new, if not adical, discussion on both communication and simulation. In bringing together such a diverse set of points of view, we hope that the reader will gain an insight into the multi-faceted dimensions of both the role of communication in simulation and the contribution that simulation may make to communication. ... Both communication and simulation are essentially practical pursuits, but they can be subjected to close analytical and theoretical scrutiny. Books on communication generally contain theoretical interpretations of practical events, processes and productions; many books on simulation tend to have a more practical bent, in that they present ready-to-use or adaptable exercises — sometimes accompanied by some background discussion. This volume does not contain any ready-to-use exercises (although many are referenced). It is a multi-perspective and interdisciplinary discussion on the connections between the two fields of communication and simulation, and presents a more theoretical and analytical, even philosophical, view of the interconnections between the two fields. But through such an examination, the contributors to this book unearth the assumptions underlying the practitioner's resources employed and deployed in the activities of communication and simulation. An examination of communication and simulation as one theme thus holds some interest for the practitioner, too, in that it renders more visible that upon which s/he relies for the successful achievement of the more practical communication and simulation matters. It is our view that practitioners, as well as theorists, will ignore the points made throughout these chapters at their and, crucially, their students' peril; and researchers, too, may need to reassess their paradigms in the light of many of the points made.
... On its uses in conducting research in FL acquisition, see Stevens (1985; 1987). Finally, Littlejohn (1989) and Evans et al. (1987) treat its uses in FL testing. ...
ABSTRACT  With the growing popularity of the communicative approach to language teaching, much emphasis has been placed on improving students' oral proficiency in the foreign language they are studying. Many questions still remain, however-both practical and theoretical-as to how to best integrate oral testing into the classroom. This paper will provide an overview of the most widely used methods of classroom oral testing, as well as evaluations of their practicality and conformity to the goals of communicative teaching and testing. I will also describe ways I have successfully used the videocamera and task-based activities to make oral testing a more realistic communicative experience, one that is both less time-consuming and easier for the teacher to evaluate accurately and, most importantly, enjoyable rather than stress-producing for the student.
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