Assessment of speaking skills in German as a foreign language

Project management

Supervision: Prof. Dr. Thomas Studer

01.2021 - 12.2024
Cognition, Evaluation, Interaction, Learning, Teaching

When asked about their goals, students learning a foreign language generally say they want to speak the language. Despite the value placed on speaking, however, various studies on the foreign language competence of Swiss school students reveal that many learners have difficulty in meeting the learning outcomes set for spoken language (Peyer et al. 2016, Wiedenkeller/Lenz 2019). Moreover, teacher surveys have shown that many language teachers find assessing students’ oral language skills particularly challenging (Tsagari/Vogt 2017, Vogt 2018). Various types of assessments – reacting to student input, giving feedback on presentations or grading exams – are nevertheless part of a normal school day and they play a key role in teaching and learning: assessments show students where they have made progress and where gaps remain, and they provide teachers with information on how to better help their students achieve the learning outcomes. As such, statements on student performance can support and foster learning, which is why the assessment literacy of teachers is of great significance.

These considerations form the backdrop for this study, which focuses on speaking assessment literacy – i.e. the ability to assess speaking skills.

The following research questions are examined:

  • What assessment practices do language teachers apply when evaluating speaking skills?
  • What convictions and attitudes (beliefs) do teachers have with regard to assessing oral language productions and interactions?
  • Is it possible to discern different priorities in teacher assessment practices (feedback procedures, correction style), and if yes, what could be the cause of these differences?
  • What type of training and what needs (professional development, materials) do teachers have with regard to assessing speaking skills?
  • How can teachers be best supported in relation to assessing speaking skills?

The project focuses on lessons in German as a foreign language held at lower secondary school.