36th Annual Convention 
March 2015
Virginia Beach, VA

Of Interest From Marian Thier

July 10, 2013 8:32 AM | Nan Johnson-Curiskis (Administrator)
NAGPUR: Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) has decided to outsource preparation of materials for Assessment of Speaking And Listening<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/Assessment-of-Speaking-And-Listening> (ASL) skills test for std IX and XI. ASL was introduced in 2012 and is basically an oral examination of language skills, but with a more comprehensive approach. It accounts for about 10% of marks in English.

The plan to outsource is done with a view of providing professionally prepared test materials that will provide remedial options to students.

The board has floated tenders inviting bids from firms to not only create these test materials but also to provide certification to students that are internationally recognized. It plans to grant the contract from 2013-18. The tender document issued by the board says "good communication skills raise the self-esteem of a student and CBSE<http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/topic/CBSE> essentially desires that the student acquires proficiency in it by the time he/she leaves the portals of the school. In present day global market, speaking and listening are considered to be the essential skills of life".

The board adds that language skills are important in both theory and practicals. CBSE further says that it "wishes to engage an agency that would assess speaking and listening skills formally at secondary and senior secondary level so that these skills are correspondingly acquired during the transaction of English language curriculum in language classrooms. The agency should also develop age appropriate teacher and learner support materials for language skills acquisition drawing upon drama, theatre and music".

The board has made it clear that the format of the test and assessment criterion shall be developed by the bidder based on CBSE Curriculum guidelines map. The board also wants certificate of assessment to be benchmarked for international recognition in due course of time. Till that happens, the certificate given to students will be issued jointly by CBSE and the outside agency. The methodology to conduct and implement the test will be arrived at to ensure that assessment is valid, reliable and fair.

CBSE has emphasized that the "result of the examination will be used for the purpose of 'remediation' through descriptors to profile an examinee. The result will also, therefore be used to cause a wash back into classroom teaching-learning process at all the levels in the schools".

The bids will be opened in the first week of August and by September the board is expected to announce the name of the winning firm.


ASL consists of two components - speaking and listening tests.


The speaking test will last for a total of 12 minutes maximum and will be conducted for two students at a time. A single teacher will function as the interlocutor and assessor for both the students, and he/she must be an expert in English subject. The test has been divided into three section with the first being general introduction. Here the interlocutor converses with the two candidates with simple questions based on the students' names, place of residence, leisure preferences etc.

The second part will be called the 'mini presentation' in which students have the choice to pick up a 'role card' or a 'cue card'. Both cards will have a topic written on it and students will be given one minute to prepare and organize their thoughts on paper (to be provided by the school only). After this students will be given two minutes each to present their ideas.

The third part of the test will be pair interaction. Both students are given a verbal or visual stimulus and asked to respond to it with each other for three minutes. In case a student has not been able to speak or has been unable to speak owing to nervousness, the dominance of the second candidate or any other factor, then, the interlocutor may use an extra one minute to give a fresh opportunity to that student.


Listening Comprehension tests the candidate's ability to listen for basic interpersonal, instructional and academic purposes. Students will hear a set of recordings of the listening input or listen to a reading of the listening input. Each of the recordings will be played twice and students are not allowed to ask questions or interrupt the teacher at any point. CBSE says this is crucial since students "are being tested for listening skills".

After listening to the recording or oral reading, students will be required to answer a set of questions. The test has four sections and all are compulsory. A worksheet will be provided to students on which they can write their answers.

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  • September 27, 2013 10:56 PM | Vincenne Waxwood
    In our multilingual country the restriction on asking questions could handicap students in this situation (eg: the time when the recording is by a person with a Bostonian accent, and the students use a deep Georgian accent). With so many languages in India I wonder how the differences will be accommodated. Perhaps they will only have someone who comes from the same province. Seems the bidder will have to make a good number of adjustments. I am curious.
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Dr. Nanette Johnson-Curiskis
 Executive Director, International Listening Association 
Box 164, Belle Plaine MN 56011 USA
Phone and TEXT: 1.952.594.5697 
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