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Stations for testing large oral communication classes

Writer(s): 
Jason Williams, Okayama Korean Primary and Junior High School

Quick Guide

Key Words: Testing, large classes, oral communication
Learner English Level: High beginner to advanced
Learner Maturity Level: Junior high school and above
Preparation Time: 30-45 minutes
Activity Time: 40-50 minutes
Materials: Answer sheets for students (Figure 1): instructions and task sheets for stations (Figure 2), timer

I developed this activity in response to a request from a junior high school teacher to give the class we were teaching a final exam. The class was made up of 29 students and the teacher requested that I include the following: speaking, writing, and listening, as well as the vocabulary, grammar, and topics we covered in class. She also wanted it done in one 45-minute class period.

Preparation

Step 1: Select the grammar, vocabulary and topics you want to include on the test.

Step 2: Divide the classroom into six stations and place a sign indicating the station number, task sheets and directions at each.

Procedure

Step 1: Give answer sheets to the students. Explain how to use it: Each section of the answer sheet corresponds to each station.

Step 2: Divide the students into groups and assign them to a station. Some stations require students to work in pairs so even numbered groups, if possible, are best.

Step 3: Give the students five to six minutes to complete each station. Set the timer. When the timer goes off students change stations, moving one station to their right each time.

Step 4: After the students finish, collect the papers and mark accordingly.

Figure 1. Answer sheet for students

Answer Sheet
Name:__________________________ Number: ________________________
Station 1
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
Station 2
Partner: Picture Number:

(picture background only)

Station 3
Partner:
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Station 4
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
Station 5
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
Station 6
1. Q:
A:

2. Q:
A:

Procedure

Step 1: Give answer sheets to the students. Explain how to use it: Each section of the answer sheet corresponds to each station.

Step 2: Divide the students into groups and assign them to a station. Some stations require students to work in pairs so even numbered groups, if possible, are best.

Step 3: Give the students five to six minutes to complete each station. Set the timer. When the timer goes off students change stations, moving one station to their right each time.

Step 4: After the students finish, collect the papers and mark accordingly.

Conclusion

I have found this to be an effective way to test speaking, listening and writing skills as well as course material in large oral communication classes. The procedures for each station allow almost any type of class material to be used. The level of difficulty for each station can also be adjusted. After using this activity for several years, I have noticed the following:

  • It is best to go over the procedures before the day of the test so as to give the students the maximum amount of class time to complete the activities.
  • This activity works best with two teachers: one to be Station 6 and the other to stand between Stations 2 and 3 (the speaking stations). If this is not possible, then the teacher needs to position the stations so that 2, 3 and 6 are close together, and be quite diligent.
  • If possible, allow five minutes at the end of class for students to go back and complete any station they were not able to during the test.
  • To prevent cheating, photocopy some kind of backing on the answer sheets that prevents students from being able to see through the back of them.
  • At stations where students work alone (1, 4, 5 and part of 6), have the stations set up so that there is one set of materials per student and that the students will be spaced out at the station (one empty desk between them or standing back to back). Also, make it clear that students are to work alone at the stations and not to talk to each other.

Figure 2. Station set up and instructions

Station Number Activity Goal Materials Procedure
1 Vocabulary To test vocabulary studied in class 12 pictures in three groups of four with each group representing nouns, verbs or adjectives. A title or question should be used for each group indicating the word or type of word that students should write as their answer. Students look at the title or question for each group, think about the corresponding answer for each picture, then write the word on their answer sheet.
2 Picture Dictation To test speaking and listening Four to six pictures (face down) with the same background but with about six differences. The differences should all relate to the target and be expressible in language the students have studied. Each picture should have a number on the back for students to write on their answer sheets. The student’s answer sheet should only have the background printed on it. Step 1: Students work in pairs. One student (S1) picks up a picture and dictates it to the other student (S2). S2 draws the picture and the picture’s number on their sheet.
Step 2: Students switch and repeat.
Variations: This can be used to test various grammar points including prepositions of location or the present continuous tense. You may want to have the person drawing ask questions instead to get the details about the picture.
3 Q & A To test information questions, speaking and listening Sheets (face down) with various questions written on them. Step 1: Students work in pairs. S1 takes a sheet and asks the questions to S2. S2 responds and S1 writes the answers on the answer sheet.
Step 2: Switch and repeat.
4 Writing To test multiple written responses to questions Posted sheet with the following: “Write two sentences about each question.” (List three questions) Working alone, students write their answers on the answer sheet.
5 Random Tasks To test various vocabulary, topics, grammar, spelling and writing Cards (face down) with various tasks and questions written on them. Working alone, each student takes five cards then does the task or answers the question written on them. Students write their answer on the answer sheet. Example task and question: Write three answers to “How are you?” What kind of music do you like?
6 Talk to the Teacher To test speaking, writing and listening Posted instruction sheet with the following: “On you answer sheet, write two questions to ask the teacher.” Step 1: Working alone, students write two questions in English to ask the teacher.
Step 2: Students ask their questions to the teacher and write the teacher’s answers.
Step 3: The teacher asks the student two questions and the student answers in English.

 

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