Chapter 10. Formative, task-based oral assessments in an advanced Chinese-language class

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This chapter reports on task-based, formative assessments of oral proficiency that were designed to help students self-monitor their oral development in a fourth-year, university foreign-language Chinese classroom. Seventeen advanced learners of Chinese completed two group role-play tasks two times during their 15-week semester. Both tasks were designed to follow a pre-task, main-task, post-task cycle and culminated within the same 90-minute lesson in individual oral assessments. Computerized tools aided in the design and delivery of both tasks and assessments. Immediately after completing each formative assessment, the learners were asked to self-rate their performances, which were then rated by two Chinese language experts as well. Finally, for each task and assessment cycle, a 30-minute reflective lesson was conducted by the teacher subsequently in class, in which students discussed their self-ratings and compared them to the expert ratings. The statistical comparison of student and expert ratings on the two task cycles suggests that students were realistic judges in their self-assessment and largely agreed with the expert raters in their estimations of the quality (i.e. accuracy, fluency, complexity, and accent/tones) of their task-based assessment performances. The chapter closes with a discussion of pedagogical implications and a call for oral formative assessments that are brought into the language classroom on a regular basis as part of task work, so as to support learners’ self-regulation and to increase their chances of language improvement.


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