Assessing speaking ability in academic context: Focusing on a mixed methods approach

2015 IJRSLL – Volume 4 Issue 1


Simin, Shahla*
University of Isfahan, Iran (

Tavakoli, Mansoor
University of Isfahan, Iran (


The ability to speak in a foreign language is at the very heart of what it means to be able to use a foreign language. Speaking skill is an important part of the curriculum in language teaching, and this makes it an important object of assessment as well. This study consists of two phases, in the first phase, the qualitative phase, the purpose is to examine whether EFL learners use features of real-world listening input such as time creation device (pause fillers), facilitation device (fixed and conventional phrases), stock phrases and compensation device such as redundancy (repetition, reformulation, and rephrasing) in their natural speech production and in the second phase, the quantitative one, the purpose is to ascertain whether there is any correlation between the participants’ use of these features with their proficiency. For this purpose, thirty four EFL students, who were third-year majors in English literature at the University of Isfahan, participated in the interview for their oral production final exam. According to their scores they were divided into two groups, high proficient and low proficient. After the corpus analysis, the results show that time creation device and then stock phrases are the two most frequently used strategies among which time creation fillers are occupying the absolute majority of all strategies employed. The results also reveal that there is no statistically significant difference between two groups regarding their proficiency levels and frequency of appropriate use of spoken features. The immediate implications that can be drawn from the results obtained in this study is that it sheds light on using oral assessment as a necessary and practical way to enhance EFL learners’ speaking skills and ability.

Keywords: oral proficiency; oral language assessment; oral language instruction; EFL speaking skills



*Corresponding Author