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Testing the Speaking Skill in the Foreign Language: An Analytic Study

Muayyad Mohammed Saed

Journal of University of Babylon مجلة جامعة بابل
ISSN: 19920652 23128135 Year: 2010 Volume: 18 Issue: 1 Pages: 140-154
Publisher: Babylon University جامعة بابل

Abstract

Most methods in the foreign language tests tend to stress the discrete features of language proficiency of testees. That is, the focus is on testing the linguistic forms- vocabulary, grammar, pronunciation, spelling, composition, reading comprehension, translation, etc. A major shortcoming of this process is that it is not completely integrative; it excludes listening comprehension and speaking from its components. (AL- Mutawa and Kailani, 1989: 161).Hence, foreign language learners at all levels of study complain about their inability to use the language orally; they cannot express themselves in the spoken form of the foreign language. It appears that the speaking skill is hard to foster as a habit in the mind of foreign language learners. This difficulty spreads to involve its testing procedures.However, though many foreign language testers can assign overall grades for the speaking ability of their learners, such scores are, to a certain extent, subjective. In addition , if all formal tests are of pencil- paper variety, foreign language learners will soon realize that their preparation is most profitably spent on reading and writing . Accordingly , the acquisition of fluent speech habits is relegated to the status of a pleasant luxury; foreign language learners will no longer consider it an essential goal of their course. (Sensan, 2000: 186). Nevertheless, to ensure some objectivity for this test, foreign language teachers themselves must be such good models that they have the capacity to demonstrate the speaking skill as accurately as possible, i.e. just like the native speakers of the foreign language . Also, they must be fair enough in distributing the marks on the test items. Then , they should have enough knowledge and skill in the way to handle the speaking test. Therefore, this study tries to study and analyze the various items related to the oral skill tests in the foreign language, with a special focus on listening comprehension and speech production.