ASSESSMENT OF CONVERSATIONAL SKILLS IN HIGHER EDUCATION: THE ROLE OF LISTENING SKILLS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF ORAL PRODUCTION
California State University, Sacramento (UNITED STATES)
The focus of this work is to present an assessment report of the speaking and listening skills of non-native speakers of Spanish enrolled in college level upper-division Spanish courses and to examine the role of their listening skills in the development of oral production.
In the area of Second Language Acquisition (SLA), research has mainly focused on the acquisition of production skills, a situation that reflects what is happening in the Second Language (L2) classroom where learners are encouraged to speak as much as possible. This emphasis on production in the L2 classroom promotes an environment in which opportunities to develop listening skills are scarce, despite the fact that even in native language situations listening is the most frequently used language skill (Oxford, 1993). Moreover, the relationship between speaking and listening skills is an area of research that is rarely examined. To that end, this work explores the relationship between upper-division students’ ability to maintain a conversation in Spanish and their listening skills.
The data were collected from four sources: Interviews (direct measure), Students’ unofficial transcripts (indirect measure), and a Self-evaluation questionnaire (indirect measure). The interviews were evaluated by two raters that assessed different components of language competence (oral fluency, knowledge of grammatical conventions, vocabulary usage, and listening comprehension). A second set of criteria used to evaluate the results included the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) Proficiency Guidelines for speaking, that examines stages of proficiency in terms of discourse strategies and uses a holistic rating.
It is hoped that this research will contribute to the understanding of the role of L2 listening skills in the development of L2 oral production in order to structure curricula that will help students achieve the conversational learning goals of their program of study in Spanish as an L2.
ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines 2012 for Speaking, Writing, Listening, and Reading
http://www.actfl.org/profguidelines2012. Web. 17 March 2013.
Oxford, R. C. (1993). Research Update on Teaching L2 Listening. System, 21(2), 205-211.