The paper "Test Specifications, Assessors’ Guidelines, and Assessment Criteria" is a wonderful example of a literature review on systems science. The testing instrument that this paper is all about is intended to be a placement test that is meant to gauge the English language competency of two (2) Saudi nationals, who have recently moved to the UK and planned to enroll in secondary education. Both of them are assessed to be in level B1 of CEFR. The testing instrument specifically dwells on the most significant competencies that are needed for speaking or oral communication. A survey of the literature The concerned testing instrument zeroes in on the three competencies of task achievement and communication skills, clarity and naturalness of speech, and the range of accuracy of vocabulary and familiarity with grammatical rules. Facilitating interpersonal relationships, communication skills relate to competence to relay one’ s message to other people clearly and unambiguously and to receive information that others are conveying with as little distortion as possible.
Ellis (2003) points out that that skills to communicate are not only learned formally – as in schools – but also through consistent practice and reflection on one’ s experiences in communication (see pp.
3). These skills are varied; but, in this paper, it is the students’ oral communication skills – including the sub-skills related to sentence structure, pronunciation, word endings, tenses – among others (see Condelli, Wrigley & Kwang 2009, pp. 133) that is singled out. Clarity and naturalness (or obviousness) of speech is the ability of a speaker to produce clear and natural speech by using standard pronunciation and stress and by producing fluent utterances (Mewald, Gassner & Sigott 2009, pp.
1). Contributing to speech intelligibility (Nusbaum, Francis, & Henly 1995; see also Ratcliff, Coughlin & Lehman 2002), they are considered among the most important points for conversation test scenarios (see Moeller 2000, pp. 76). One’ s range and accuracy of vocabulary and familiarity with grammatical rules may be gauged by how well one communicates particularly in unplanned speech (Mewald, Gassner & Sigott 2009, pp. 1). Conventionally known, a grammar-less language would leave us handicapped. It involves syntax, or about how words can (and cannot) be combined to form a sentence (Batstone 2003, pp.
3). And, as such, grammar is an important aspect of second language acquisition.
Batstone, R. (2003). Grammar. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Condelli, L., Wrigley, H.S. & Kwang, S.K. (2009). “What works” for adult literacy students of English as a second language. In S. Reder & J. Bynner, eds. Tracking adult literacy and numeracy skills. New York: Routledge, pp. 132-159.
Council of Europe [n.d.]. Levels. Retrieved 7 April 2010, from http://www.coe.int/T/DG4/Portfolio/?M=/main_pages/levels.html
Ellis, R. (2003). Communication skills: stepladders to success for the professional. Bristol: Intellect Books.
Jakeman, V. and McDowell, C. (2008). Action plan for IELTS self-study pack academic module. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mewald, C., Gassner, O. & Sigott, G. (2009). E8 speaking test specifications version 01. Retrieved 7 April 2010, from http://www.uni-klu.ac.at/ltc/downloads/Speaking_Specs.pdf
Moeller, S. (2000). Assessment and prediction of speech quality in telecommunications. Norwell (MA): Kluwer Academic Publishers.
Nusbaum, H., Francis, A. & Henly, A. (1995). Measuring the naturalness of synthetic speech [ Abstract]. Retrieved 7 April 2010, from http://www.springerlink.com/content/f261w8h321633629/
Ratcliff, A., Coughlin, S. & Lehman, M. (2002). Factors influencing ratings of speech naturalness in augmentative and alternative communication [Abstract]. Retrieved 7 April 2010, from http://www.informaworld.com/smpp/content~content=a714043393&db=all
The oral (speaking) test of the FCE exam, [n.d.]. Retrieved 7 April 2010, from http://www.ukstudentlife.com/English/Exams/Oral.htm