Techniques for Testing Oral Ability

The same general advice for oral testing given in Chapter 10 applies equally to the testing of young learners. What is worth emphasising, perhaps, is the need for a long enough warm-up period for the children to become relaxed. In the case of the youngest children, it may be helpful to introduce toys and dolls from the outset.

Useful techniques include: � Asking straightforward questions about the child and their family. � Giving the child a card with a scene on it (a ‘scene card’), and then

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asking them to point out people, say what colour something is, what someone is doing, etc.

� Giving the child small cards, each with an object drawn on it, and asking the child to place each of these ‘object cards’ in a particular location on a larger scene card. For example, the child may be handed a small card with a picture of a cup on it and be asked to put the cup on the table (which appears on the scene card).

� Giving the child two pictures that are very similar but which differ in obvious ways (for example, one picture might contain a house with three windows and a red door, with a man in the garden; while the other might have a house with four windows, a green door and a woman in the garden). The child is asked to say what the differences are.

� The child is given a short series of pictures that tell a story. The tester begins the story and asks the child to complete it.

� Sets of pictures are presented. In each set there is one picture which does not ‘belong’. There may, for example, be three pictures of articles of clothing and one of a bed. The child is asked to identify the odd one out and explain why it is different from the others.

Where we want to see how well children can interact with their peers, useful techniques are: � If the two children belong to the same class, each can say a specified

number of things about another classmate, at the end of which the other child has to guess who is being described.

� There are four different picture postcards. Each child is given three of them, such that they have two cards in common and one which is different. By asking and answering questions in turn, they have to discover which pictures they have in common. All the pictures should have some common features, or the task may end too quickly without much language being used.

� There are two pictures (A and B) which are different but which contain a number of objects that are identical. One child is given picture A, the other picture B.