The aim of this video is to support teacher-examiners in conducting the Cambridge IGCSE foreign language speaking tests. It covers the structure of the test (which includes the different parts and timings of the test), what you will need with you in the examination room, and how to set up the rooms and the exam.
Let’s start by looking briefly at the structure of the speaking test
Each candidate is given 10 minutes to prepare for the test in a different room from the examination room. During this time, the candidate is given a card which describes a role play scenario that they will take part in during the test. The candidate is not allowed to make notes or use dictionaries during the preparation time and must be supervised in the room.
To start the test, there is a short 30 second warm-up in the target language. You should greet the candidate using the prompts provided. This part is not assessed.
After this short discussion, the role play can start. The role play should last for approximately two minutes and the candidate answers questions from the teacher/examiner in a role play scenario. This part of the test is assessed.
The next part of the test is topic conversation 1. This is an assessed conversation, which lasts for 4 minutes. The candidate answers questions from Topic Area A or Topic Area B and will be asked to share opinions and experiences.
The final part of the test is topic conversation 2. This is also an assessed conversation which lasts for 4 minutes. For topic conversation 2 the candidate answers questions from Topic Area C, Topic Area D or Topic Area E.
Let’s now look at what you as the teacher/examiner should do before starting the speaking tests.
• read the guidance in the Cambridge Handbook about the conduct of non-coursework speaking tests
• read the Instructions for Teachers/Examiners booklet, including the mark schemes
• study the scripts for the role plays and topic conversations, and
• download copies of the Working Mark Sheet (WMS) (from the Cambridge samples database at www.cambridgeinternational.org/samples )
You are also responsible for setting up the examination and preparation rooms correctly:
You must find a suitable room for conducting the speaking test, with two chairs and a table or desk in between. The room must be quiet and free from disturbances. Examination conditions must be in place at all times. You must also find a quiet room for the candidates’ preparation time. There should be no prompts, posters or display material in the target language on the walls in either room. Candidates must be supervised and must not be able to communicate with each other at any point during the preparation time, the test, or whilst entering or leaving the examination room.
Before the test you will need to think about what you need in the examination room. Here is a list of what you need:
• the Instructions for Teachers/Examiners booklet
• a stopwatch or timer. This should not be a timer on a mobile phone
• recording equipment with spare batteries or a charger
• a black or blue pen for marking
• the Speaking assessment criteria grids – these are the mark schemes for the test
• copies of the Working Mark Sheet (WMS)
• a list of the candidate names and numbers
• the candidate cards
Dictionaries and mobile phones are not allowed in the examination or preparation rooms.
If you know what you have to do and have everything that you need, the candidates will have the best possible chance to demonstrate their abilities.
Before the tests begin, you will need to check your stopwatch or timer and your recording equipment. The recording equipment must be of good quality and you need to make sure that your candidates can be heard clearly throughout the test. Place the recording device closer to the candidate or, if possible, use two microphones: one for you and one for the candidate. Check your equipment is plugged in, charged or has batteries, and that the device, CD or USB you are using has enough space for the recordings.
Candidates must be examined on their own and the speaking test must be conducted entirely in the target language. The speaking test should last about 10 minutes and the candidates are not allowed to bring notes or write notes during the preparation time or the test. They are also not allowed to use dictionaries. During and after the test, candidates must not communicate with each other or share the contents of the test.
It is important that, once the recording of the test has begun, it is NOT paused. You must record the WHOLE test.
Here is a demonstration of the full speaking test which shows the exact set up and structure of the test. The video was filmed in a studio, and conducted in English. It is not a real test, and does not aim to provide model candidate answers. It does not show how the candidates should answer the questions or achieve marks, and it does not focus on the marking and moderation of the test.
This lasts 10 minutes. The candidate studies a role play scenario provided on a candidate card. They must be supervised under exam conditions. Remember that the candidate is not allowed to make notes.
You must not share the topics of the topic conversations with the candidate during their preparation time or before their test.
The start of the speaking test
At the start of each test, press ‘record’ on the recording equipment.
Do not stop or pause the recording equipment at any point during the test.
Say your name, the candidate number, the candidate’s name, the candidate card number and the date.
Start the timer or stopwatch and make a note of the start time of the test. You should monitor the timing for each part of the test and you may want to restart the timer for each part. Remember that the role play lasts for approximately 2 minutes, topic conversation 1 lasts 4 minutes and topic conversation 2 also lasts 4 minutes.
After starting the timer or stopwatch, greet the candidate using the prompts provided. This section is recorded but not assessed.
The examiner keeps this short. Remember though, the greeting is not assessed and can last approximately 30 seconds.
Role play (2 minutes)
Set the scene for the role play by reading out the role play scenario exactly as it is printed in the Instructions for Teachers/Examiners booklet.
Ask all of the role play questions exactly as they are printed. If there are two parts to the question, you should pause, and wait for the candidate to answer the first part before asking the second part.
You can repeat any role play question, if the candidate has not understood or did not hear, but you must not rephrase any of the role play questions. If the candidate still cannot answer one of the questions after you have repeated it, move on to the next question.
Listen to and assess the candidate’s answers using the role play mark scheme and write down the marks on the Working Mark Sheet (WMS). There are 2 marks available for each response.
Remember here to note down the marks for the role play on the Working Mark Sheet.
Topic conversations 1 and 2 (4 minutes each)
Go to the correct topic conversation which is listed in the Instructions for Teachers/Examiners booklet.
In the target language say to the candidate: ‘First we are going to talk about...’ giving the name of the first topic.
You must ask each question exactly as it is printed and you must ask all five questions in the order that they appear in the teacher/examiner script provided.
If there are two parts to the question, you should pause and wait for the candidate to answer the first part before asking the second part. Listen carefully to the candidate’s answer to each question.
If the candidate does not answer a question, or answers very briefly and you think that they could give a fuller response, you can ask extension questions in the target language, starting with question stems such as ‘Tell me more about …’, ‘What else can you tell me about …?’, or ‘Is there anything else you want to say about …?’.
For questions 1 and 2, if the candidate does not answer the first time, repeat the question.
If the candidate still does not answer, ask the next question.
Refer to this grid in the Instructions for Teachers/Examiners booklet.
For questions 3, 4 and 5, if the candidate does not answer the first time, repeat the question. If the candidate still does not answer, ask the alternative question or questions provided. If the candidate still does not answer, then ask the next question.
If the topic conversation lasts 3½ minutes or less, even after asking extension questions, you must ask up to two further questions of your choice on the same topic as the other questions to make sure that the conversation lasts 4 minutes.
Once the candidate has completed topic conversation 1, say to the candidate in the target language: ‘Now we are going to talk about...’, giving the name of the second topic.
The instructions, timing and rules on asking and repeating questions for topic conversation 2 are the same as for topic conversation 1.
The examiner decides here to ask an extension question to allow the candidate to give a fuller response.
After repeating the question once already, the candidate is still having difficulty answering. The examiner now uses the alternative question provided.
The topic conversation is currently shorter than 3 ½ minutes, so the examiner asks two extra questions on the same topic.
The examiner, again, realises that the second topic conversation is shorter than 3 ½ minutes; she asks the candidate one extra question on this topic.
When both topic conversations have been completed, award a mark out of 15 for Communication for topic conversations 1 and 2 together, and a mark out of 15 for Quality of Language for topic conversations 1 and 2 together. Use the marks schemes provided and record the marks on the Working Mark Sheet.
At the end of each speaking test you will need to take the candidate card from the candidate. They must not take the card with them when they leave the examination room.
Remember, when the candidate leaves the examination room, they must not communicate with any other candidates.
Make sure that you have completed all parts of the Working Mark Sheet for the candidate and do not share the marks with the candidate.
Check that the test has been recorded and can be heard clearly. If there is a problem with the recording, follow the instructions in the Cambridge Handbook about failed recordings.
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