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Continued Lack of Testing Partnerships in East Asia as decades roll on

By       Message Kevin Anthony Stoda     Permalink
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My rationale for focusing on the criteria (a) to (i) above in scoring my junior high students practice speeches stemmed from the fact that non-native speakers of English, especially in Taiwan, are weak in these areas of communication.

By evaluating these areas of a short 2 to 2 1/2 minute speech, as an English language instructor, I have selected criteria which will have great beneficial backwash on how English is studied, learned, practiced, and taught.


While the local audience of students and teachers was still trying to guess which criteria the Board of Education members had chosen this 2011 to evaluate the different speaker's efforts that afternoon, one of the judges stood up and began to explain. (I personally had originally thought that the three judges had intentionally avoided giving the top four awards to those competing-speakers who had already won awards earlier that same day in the local English spelling and vocabulary contest.)

After congratulating all fourteen students for their efforts, the judge immediately began to outline to the audience what it actually took, in her opinion, to give a good speech. Here were the overt criteria she outlined first and foremost. This judge stated that the speakers were called on to emphasize and demonstrate the skills explained in the acronym SIMPLE.   This judge explained that SIMPLE stood for:

S - smile at the audience

I - intonation - use it properly when speaking

M - consider the manner in which you move, stand and gesture

P - pronunciation - always pronounce words clearly

L - love your audience and show you love what you are doing or talking about

E - use eye contact with the audience at all times

The judge, who spoke English fairly well, admitted that, back in her day, when she was in junior high, she would never have had the confidence or training to give a good or great speech.

I immediately recognized that (1) only some of the criteria overlapped with my own criteria, which I've explained above, the (a) through (i) criteria intended to have beneficial backwash for students, teachers and English language education as a whole.

I also noted that (2) the weighting of SIMPLE over-emphasized form to the exclusion of content. Moreover, even though this judge admitted that the organization of a speech was important, (3) form and style were being weighted over organization, too. Finally, even though the judge also noted that global vocabulary errors, i.e., those vocabulary errors which extremely confuse the listening audience, could lose the competition for someone, (4) grammar and vocabulary were otherwise not emphasized generally in this particular speech contest.

Later, on my way riding the ferry back to my home island that afternoon, I laughed and explained to my colleagues that what we had thus observed had neither been a speaking contest nor a speech contest based upon the emphasized criteria of SIMPLE. Rather, through the judges' emphasis on form-over-content, it was a look-like-you-are-giving-a-great-speech contest. In short, one needed neither great content nor great organization nor a firm grasp of verb tenses and vocabulary to succeed in doing well in speech. One just had to smile, love the audience and act like one was speaking with the less-said-the better (because the speaker who says least has less chance of making a pronunciation error).

On TESTing and on ConTESTS

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KEVIN STODA-has been blessed to have either traveled in or worked in nearly 100 countries on five continents over the past two and a half decades.--He sees himself as a peace educator and have been-- a promoter of good economic and social development--making-him an enemy of my homelands humongous DEFENSE SPENDING and its focus on using weapons to try and solve global (more...)

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