2009 年 12 月 第 32 卷   6 期 第
中国英语教学 ( 双月刊) Teachi ng Englis h i n Chi na ? EL EA J our nal (Bi mont hly) C
Dec . 2009 V ol . 32 N o. 6
Abs t ract    Drawi ng on t he t heoretical f rameworks on “oracy”i n t he U K , t his st udy i nvestigated how Chi nese
English teachers concept uall y understand spoken English and p racticall y i mple ment speaki ng assess ment i n 10 middle schools i n Guangdong. Q uestionnaire survey and telep hone i nterviews were e mployed to collect t he data . Results f rom t his st udy revealed t hat many middle school English teachers did not have t he right concept ual understandi ng on “oracy”i n English . Consequentl y oral p rof iciency was not assessed f rom t he perspecti ve of language use and aut hentic com munication . The f i ndi ngs suggest a need of f urt her p rof essional develop ment f or secondary English teachers and call f or a p ractice of bot h com municati ve speaki ng assess ment and f or mati ve assess ment i n t he middle school . Ke y w o r ds English oracy ;speaki ng assess ment ; com municati ve competence
1 . Int roduction
1 . 1 Resea rch background
This resea rc h ai ms t o : ( 1 ) expl ore mi ddle sc hool Englis h t eac he rsπ unde rst a ndi ng of t he noti on of “oracy”i n Englis h , ( 2 ) i de ntif y t he t yp es a nd t he wa ys of sp ea ki ng assess me nts use d by t he m , a nd ( 3 ) i nvestigat e how t he p ercep ti on aff ects t he assess me nt p ractice . The f oll owi ng resea rc h questi ons gui de t his st udy : 1 . How do mi ddle sc hool Englis h t eac hers unde rst a nd t he noti on of “oracy” n Englis h ? i 2 . To w hat ext e nt does t he sp ea ki ng assess me nt ref lect st ude ntsπ com municative comp et e nce ? 3 . W hat a re t he t eac he rsπ p e rcep ti ons of t he p ractical diff iculties i n assessi ng sp ea ki ng ? 4 . I n w hat wa ys do seconda r y sc hool Englis h t eac hers conduct assess me nt of st ude ntsπ sp ea ki ng ?
27
O ral comp et e nce is i mp ort a nt f or lea r ners of Englis h as a Foreign L a nguage ( EFL ) . It is one of t he most necessa r y la nguage s kills t o de monst rat e t hei r la nguage comp et e nce . The ulti mat e ai m of oral Englis h st udy f or EFL lea r ne rs s houl d be t he acquisiti on of oral com municati ve comp et e nce , t hat is , t he a bilit y t o sp ea k app r op riat ely i n cont ext ( Hymes 1971 ; Mor r ow 1977 ; Wi ddows on 1978 ; Ca ndli n 1980 ; Wells 1981 ; Ca nale 1983 ; Bac h ma n 1990 ) . However , as t he Englis h la nguage t eac hi ng i n ma ny mi ddle sc hools i n Chi na is exa m2orie nt e d , muc h e mp hasis has bee n p ut on st ude ntsπ li nguistic comp et e nce suc h as t he r ot e me morizati on of voca bula r y a nd gra m ma r rat he r t ha n on la nguage comp et e nce ( Zuo 1990 ) . Suc h a t est2orie nt e d t eac hi ng a nd lea r ni ng p ractice als o negatively af f ect t he sp ea ki ng assess me nt . St ude ntπ s oral p r of icie ncy is of t e n not assessed f r om t he p e rsp ective of la nguage use a nd com municati on . Ma ny Englis h t eac hers do not ha ve suf ficie nt underst a ndi ng on vali dit y a nd relia bilit y f or sp ea ki ng assess me nt . Com municative assess me nt has receive d lit tle at t e nti on .
1 . 2 Resea rch objectives
MIDDL E SCHOOL ENG ISH TEACHERSπ PERCEPTIONS OF L ORACY AND THEIR PRACTICE OF SPEAKING ASSESSMENT
? 1994-2010 China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House. All rights reserved.
Fe ng Bi ngqi ng Gua ngdong Teac he rsπ College of Foreign L a ngua ge a n d A rts
http://www.cnki.net
5 . W hat is t he sp ea ki ng assess me nt f or a nd how f a r does it ha ve i mp act on w hat is t aught i n t he classr oom ?
2 . Theoretical background
A ndrew Wil ki nson ( 1965 , cit e d i n Dixon 1988 ) f i rst playe d wit h t he w or d “oracy ” Accor di ng t o . hi m , “oracy ”is oneπ oral s kills t o com municat e , t o discuss , t o negotiat e , t o conve rse , w hic h is as s f unda me nt al t o educati on as lit e racy a nd nume racy ; it is not a subject but a conditi on of lea r ni ng i n all subjects ( i bi d ) . I n ge neral t e r ms , sp ea ki ng a nd list e ni ng a re usually sai d t o relat e t o la nguage exp ressed t hr ough t he aural me dium , a nd sp ea ki ng is sai d t o be active w he reas list e ni ng is sai d t o be p assive . However , accor di ng t o Wi ddows on ( 1978 ) , it might be p ositively mislea di ng. To rep rese nt t he m i n t his way , as wit h ref ere nce t o la nguage t eac hi ng , w he re t he ai m of t he la nguage course is t o devel op a n a bilit y t o ha ndle sp oke n la nguage , w hat lea r ne rs need ulti mat ely t o acqui re is a n awa re ness of how t he la nguage bei ng lea r ned is use d f or t al ki ng.
3 . 1“Oracy”in t he U . K. As Frat e r ( 1988 ) st at e d , i n t he ea rly p e ri od bef ore 1960s , t he cur riculum i n t he U . K. was delive red i n a n esse ntially p rescrip tive mode . Writi ng ha d t he al most exclusi ve p restige a nd Receive d Pr onunciati on ( R P) was t oo of t e n t he stifli ngly resp ect a ble measure a nd model of app r op riat e sp eec h . I n p a rticula r , t he r ole of t al k i n lea r ni ng , its i mp ort a nce i n t he s hapi ng of t hought , t he i nt e r nalizi ng of concep ts , t he devel op me nt of a rgume nts , a nd of its i nt e rplay wit h t he ot he r la nguage mode , we re lit tle unde rst ood . I n t he 1960s , Wil ki ns on ( cit ed i n Dixon 1988 ) a nd his ea rly colleagues recognized t he i mp ort a nce of t he sp oke n w or d f or t he sc hool cur riculum . Si nce t he n , t he e ducati onal sce ne i n Engla nd has wit nessed e nor mous st r uct ural c ha nges . Fi rst , t he p ublic exa mi nati on syst e m gua ra nt ee d a place f or t he sp oke n w or d . A nd t he n , i n 1975 , ca me t he B ull oc k rep ort ( D ES 1975 ) , w hic h conf i r me d t he i mp ort a nce of oracy i n t he cur riculum . The t eac hi ng p r of essi on i n Engla nd was agreed up on “t he i mp ort a nce of t he sp oke n w or d i n t he cur riculum a nd t he nee d f or a st re ngt he ne d e mp hasis up on it i n t he w or k of sc hools ” ( D ES 1986 : 31 . 12 ) . Begi nni ng i n 1987 , oracy received ce nt ral f undi ng under t he Educati on Supp ort Gra nts ( ES G) mec ha nis m , w hic h mea nt not only t hat sp oke n w or d was t a ke n r oot on a wi de scale , but als o t hat a va riet y of t houghtf ul a nd res ourcef ul app r oac hes t o its devel op me nt we re e mergi ng nati onwi de . I n a dditi on t o a nd li n ke d wit h t he ES G app a rat us , a Nati onal O racy Pr oject was f urt he r f unde d t o supp ort t he devel op me nt of t he sp oke n w or d i n t he sc hool cur riculum .
The Assess me nt of Pe rf or ma nce U nit ( A PU ) was est a blis hed t o monit or t he corp orat e p e rf or ma nce of p upils i n t he nati onπ sc hools . It hol ds t hat t al k is used f or a wi de ra nge of com municative p urp ose a nd s diff e re nt p urp oses requi re diff e re nt t yp es of t al k , a nd list e ni ng s houl d not be a rtif iciall y sep a rat ed f r om
28
I n t he app r oac h of t he assess me nt of Perf or ma nce U nit i n B rit ai n , t al k is als o e mp hasize d a nd t he def i niti ons of oral comp et e nce app ea r t o be p r oceedi ng al ong br oa dly f uncti onal li nes . Some p ri nciples a bout oracy a re ma de explicitly t hat t al k is use d f or a wi de ra nge of com municative p urp ose ; dif f e re nt p urp oses requi re dif f e re nt t yp es of t al k , w hic h i mplies t hat no one st yle or regist e r of sp eec h will be app r op riat e f or all sit uati on ; list e ni ng s houl d not be a rtif icially sep a rat ed f r om sp ea ki ng as t he most nat ural uses of list e ni ng occur wit hi n conve rsati on a nd discussi on ( B r ookes 1987 ) . Theref ore , t he wor k of t he Assess me nt of Pe rf or ma nce U nit p r op oses a model w hic h def i nes a ra nge of com municative f uncti ons or p urp oses suc h as na r rati ng , descri bi ng a nd rep orti ng , a nd a va riet y of “a udie nces ” Comp et e nce i n . oracy is t he n evaluat ed i n t er ms of t he a bilit y t o com municat e ef f ectively on a ra nge of t as ks exe mplif yi ng t he va ri ous combi nati ons of a udie nce a nd p urp ose . Theref ore , descri bi ng a nd sp ecif yi ng , i nf or mi ng/ exp oundi ng , a rgui ng/ p ersua di ng , f ocused questi oni ng , evaluati on of evi de nce/ colla borative discussi on or p r oble m2solvi ng a nd sp eculati ng/ a dva nci ng hyp ot heses se rve as t he ge ne ral p urp oses of t he oral t as ks ca r ried out i n t he sc hools ( B r ookes 1987 ) .
3 . Educa tional context
As sp ea ki ng assess me nt is cl osel y relat e d t o oracy , t heref ore , t he hist or y of oracy i n t he e ducati onal cont ext bot h i n t he U . K. a nd i n Chi na is f i rst brief ly reviewed .
Mi ddl e School Eng l i s h Teache r s π Pe r cep t i ons of Or acy and The i r Pr ac t i ce of Sp eak i ng As s es sment
? 1994-2010 China Academic Journal Electronic Publishing House. All rights reserved.
http://www.cnki.net
Feng Bi ngqi ng
sp ea ki ng because t he most nat ural use of list e ni ng occurs wit hi n conversati on a nd discussi on ( A PU 1984 , cit ed i n Frat er 1988 ) . As a result , a mong t eac hers it is plai n t hat t here is st r ong supp ort f or t he e n ha nce me nt of t he sp oke n w or d a nd clea r app reciati on of its i mp ort a nce i n t he lea r ni ng p r ocess .
3 . 2“Oracy”in China
As ea rly as i n 1981 , t he St at e Educati on Devel op me nt Com missi on ( S ED C ) issued t he nati onal unif ie d sylla bus w hic h was st ruct ured2base d a nd set la nguage knowle dge as t he mai n t eac hi ng goal i n or de r f or st ude nts t o “lay a s oli d f oundati on f or f urt her st udies ” U nder t his gui deli ne , “87 % of t eac he rs i n . Chi naπ mi ddle sc hools used t he t ra diti onal met hod i n t he lat e 1980s ”( Zuo 1990 : 40 ) . I n t he la nguage s class r ooms i n most mi ddle sc hools , it was com mon t hat t he la nguage t eac her domi nat ed t he class a nd gave t he st ude nts one2wa y i nst r ucti on a bout li nguistic knowle dge . Teac he rs wit h ass ociat ed degrees a nd wit h seconda r y dipl omas we re 4 % a nd 29 % resp ectively ( Zuo 1990 : 34 ) . As a result , t he t ra diti onal t eac hi ng met hod a nd def icie nt t eac he rs p r oduce d unsatisf act or y t eac hi ng results . St ude nts beca me al most‘deaf a nd dumb ’af t er six yea rs of Englis h st udy i n t he mi ddle sc hools a nd ha d lit tle a bilit y t o sp ea k a nd underst a nd Englis h . I n or de r t o i mp r ove st ude ntsπ unsatisf act or y comp et e nce i n t he use of Englis h f or com municati on , i n t he 1990s , t he S ED C st at ed i n t he new sylla bus t hat Englis h t eac hi ng ai ms we re ,“by t rai ni ng i n list e ni ng , sp ea ki ng , rea di ng a nd w riti ng , t o t eac h st ude nts i n or de r t o gai n basic knowle dge of Englis h a nd comp et e nce t o use Englis h f or com municati on ” ( Englis h Teac hi ng Sylla bus 1992 : 1 ) . To ac hieve t his ai m , t he S ED C st at ed explicitly t hat t eac hi ng s houl d st a rt wit h list e ni ng a nd sp ea ki ng , drills on la nguage f or m s houl d not be excessive , Englis h s houl d be use d i n class a nd use of t ra nslati on s houl d be li mit ed ( i bi d ) . I n a dditi on t o e ncouragi ng t he t eac hers t o t a ke i n2ser vice t rai ni ng t o up gra de t hei r Englis h p r of icie ncy , t he S ED C ha d a ref or m i n t he Mat riculati on Englis h Test ( M E T ) , w hic h is one Nati onal College Ent ra nce Exa ms devel op e d by t he S ED C . Bef ore 1992 , t he M E T t est only ha d t he “la nguage usage secti on ”t o assess li nguistic comp et e nce on p honetics , sp elli ng , gra m ma r a nd voca bula r y. Af t e r 1992 , list e ni ng t o dial ogues a nd a nsweri ng questi ons , rea di ng comp re he nsi on a nd comp ositi ons were a dde d t o measure st ude ntsπ s kills f or com municati on . Those w ho wa nt t o t a ke Englis h as a maj or i n universit y a re also requi re d t o t a ke sp ea ki ng assess me nt . I n ma ny mi ddle sc hools , sp ea ki ng assess me nt is ca r ried out bot h i n se ni or a nd juni or sc hools . Howeve r , comp a red wit h U . K. , w hose w or k on oracy places t al k at t he ce nt re of t he lea r ni ng p r ocess , “oracy ”i n Chi na is still t he t ra diti onal st ruct ure of t eac he r2di rect e d model .
4 . The p resent st udy
4 . 1 The met hodology
4 . 2 The p a rticip a nts
This st udy used t he qualit ative app r oac h . Tw o qualit ative dat a collecti on t ec h ni ques we re use d . Op e n2e nded questi onnai re was f i rst use d t o get t eac he rsπ concep t ual unde rst a ndi ng of oracy i n Englis h , opi ni ons on sp ea ki ng assess me nt as well as t hei r p r of essi onal , educati onal , a nd p e rsonal backgr ound . The n , t he se mi2st r uct ured i nt e r views wit h s ome of t he p a rticip a nts were conduct ed f or f urt he r cla rif icati on a nd see ki ng t eac he rsπ ref lecti ons . As t his resea rc h was done i n t he U . K. , t he questi onnai re was se nt by e2mail a nd t he i nt e r views were conduct e d ove r t he p hone .
29
A questi onnaire ( App e ndix A ) was a dmi nist ere d i n t e n mi ddle sc hools i n Gua ngdong , Chi na by e2 mail a nd t wel ve ret ur ned t he complet ed su
 

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