Words Worth Blog

Preparing for Assessment of Speaking and Listening

Assessment of Speaking and Listening (ASL), an initiative of CBSE has been in operation in all its affiliated schools since 2012. The ASL test was formulated to ensure that the importance of listening and speaking skills of learners is emphasised at schools. With this test designed to be conducted as Summative Assessment, the board aims to tackle the problem of incompetency of adequate communication skills observed in the learners. Through this effort, the board aims to empower the learners by raising their self esteem and upping their employability scale.

The listening and speaking skills have distinct objectives in the ASL test. The listening section of the ASL test checks the learners’ ability to understand basic instructions or to comprehend academic material. A set of four tasks, using different formats like advertisements, conversations, new articles etc. assess their listening and interpretation skills. The learners are expected to deduce and infer the meaning conveyed in the audio. Their understanding of: what is being said, the opinion presented or the relationship between the speakers are tested through the tasks that the learners attempt.

The speaking section on the other hand checks their ability to express themselves in English on a given topic. Their ability to: intonate appropriately, speak in a linear fashion, and sound spontaneous while talking are some areas of assessment of the ASL test. Other important aspects checked are the level of vocabulary and the level of complexity of sentence structures used by the learners to express themselves.

These subtle facets of language usage, usually expected to be natural and inherent in speakers, only come in after regular practice and use of the particular language. Looking at the common scenario of English language teaching and use in India where the average school going child does not have access to developing his communication skills in English, the proficiency level of English as a language is very low. The school environment also does not necessarily provide for the enhancement of communication skills.

It hence becomes imperative that, English as a skill be consciously taught at schools, to ensure that the various expected facets of the language (addressed above) are strategically provided to the learners. The teaching of listening so as draw inferences, to look for specific information or to understand what id being said are some sub skills of listening that need to be imparted. So also, relevant sub skills of speaking need to be taught to the learners.

Words Worth English Language Lab, provides teaching-learning content for ASL. The learners are taken through a course wherein listening and speaking are taught as skills in the classroom sessions. These skills are then practised by them individually in the lab sessions.

Such an effort of providing dedicated opportunities for teaching and learning English as a skill is necessary not only to add long term value to the learners in terms of enhanced confidence and ensure better career opportunities, but also to meet the short term goal of scoring well in the ASL tests.