English Language Center

Speaking LAT Training and Calibration


Welcome Speaking Raters!

  1. Look at the ELC Speaking Rubric below and listen to the benchmarks.
  2. After reviewing the rubric and benchmarks, proceed to the Summer 2015 Calibration page.
  3. Look at the test questions and note what level the question is targeted at. If a test question says, “Level 2 on up,” it means that a student who successfully performs that task could be a 2 or higher.
  4. Listen to parts of all 10 questions. Look for a pattern of consistency. A student may do well on one harder question, but do poorly on all the others or conversely, a student could do well on most of the hard questions but do poorly on an easy item. Look for multiple evidences of what the student does consistently.
  5. For some people it is easier to break the decision-making process into two steps. First decide if the student is Foundations (0 to 3) or Academic (4 to 7). Once that decision is made, then decide which level within that program best reflects the students performance. That way, instead of having to keep 8 levels in your mind while you rate, you can have two initially, and then four afterward.
  6. Use the “Text Type” box on the left to get a general feel for the length and organization of the response. Please note that students can often do well on individual sentences, but in the transition to longer utterances lose accuracy. Look for organizational language discourse markers to determine if they speaking at the paragraph level. One way to envision the difference between multiple sentences and a paragraph in spoken language is to think of a slide show (multiple sentences) vs. a video clip (paragraph).
  7. If you need additional clarification about a student’s level, check the “Content” box. Here you can get a sense of the speaker’s functional ability with language and vocabulary. On the lower range of the rubric, students can sound quite fluent when the topics are personal in nature—things they have practiced in a class. Look at how they speak when the topics move away from them.
  8. If you are still not sure which level to choose, look in the “Accuracy” box to get a feel for appropriate grammatical complexity and the conveyance of meaning.
  9. Still feeling a little unsure? Consider semantics, pragmatics, accent, pronunciation, prosody, fluency, etc to inform your choice.
  10. Give a holistic rating for the entire test and provide evidence for your rating.

Summer 2015 Calibration Meeting

[Date/time TBD] in 121 UPC.

ELC Speaking Rubric

Level Text Type Content Accuracy
  • Fluency
  • Dvelopment
  • Organization
  • Functional Ability with the Language (Abstract vs. Concrete or Self-centric Language)
  • Vocabulary
  • Grammar & Verb Tense
  • Communication Strategies
  • Native-like Comprehensibility
7—ready for university courses Exemplified speaking on a paragraph level rather than isolated phrases or strings of sentences. Highly organized argument (transitions, conclusion, etc.). Speaker explains the outline of topic and follows it through.
  • Discusses some topics abstractly (areas of interest or specific field of study);
  • Better with a variety of concrete topics;
  • Appropriate use of a variety in academic and non-academic vocabulary;
  • Grammar errors are extremely rare, if they occur at all; wide range of structures in all time frames;
  • Able to compensate for deficiencies by use of communicative strategies—paraphrasing, circumlocution, illustration—such that deficiencies are unnoticeable;
  • Readily understood by native speakers unaccustomed to non-native speakers;
6—ready for Academic C Fairly organized paragraph-like speech with appropriate discourse markers (transitions, conclusion, etc.) Will not be as organized as level 7, but meaning is clear.
  • Can speak comfortably with concrete topics, and discuss a few topics abstractly;
  • Academic vocabulary often used appropriately in speech;
  • Grammar errors are infrequent and do not affect comprehension; no apparent sign of grammatical avoidance;
  • Able to speak in all major time frames, but lacks complete control of aspect;
  • Often able to successfully use compensation strategies to convey meaning;
  • Easy to understand by native speakers unaccustomed to non-native speakers
5—ready for Academic B Simple paragraph length discourse with sustained, though possibly formulaic, discourse markers that help maintain some organization.
  • Able to comfortably handle all uncomplicated tasks relating to routine or daily events and personal interests and experiences;
  • Some hesitation may occur when dealing with more complicated tasks;
  • Uses a moderate amount of academic vocabulary;
  • Uses a variety of time frames and structures; however, speaker may avoid more complex structures;
  • Error patterns may be evident, but errors do not distort meaning;
  • Exhibits break-down with more advanced tasks—i.e. failure to use circumlocution, significant hesitation, etc.
  • Understood by native speakers unaccustomed to dealing with non-natives, but 1st language is evident;
4—ready for Academic A Uses moderate-length sentences with simple transitions to connect ideas. Sentences may be strung together, but may not work together as cohesive paragraphs.
  • Able to handle a variety of uncomplicated tasks with concrete meaning;
  • Expresses meaning by creating and/or combining concrete and predictable elements of the language;
  • Uses sparse academic vocabulary appropriately;
  • Strong command of basic structures; error patterns with complex grammar;
  • Frequent use of compensation strategies with varied success;
  • Generally understood by sympathetic speakers accustomed to speaking with non-natives;
3—ready for Foundations C Able to express personal meaning by using simple, but complete, sentences they know or hear from native speakers.
  • Able to successfully handle a limited number of uncomplicated tasks;
  • Concrete exchanges and predictable topics necessary for everyday life without unexpected complications;
  • Highly varied general vocabulary;
  • Errors are not uncommon and sometimes obscure meaning;
  • Limited range of sentence structure;
  • Characterized by ineffective reformulations and self-corrections;
  • Generally understood by speakers used to dealing with non-natives, but requires more effort;
2—ready for Foundations B Short and sometimes incomplete sentences.
  • Restricted to a few of the predictable topics necessary for survival (basic personal information, basic objects, preferences, and immediate needs)
  • Relies heavily on learned phrases or recombination of phrases and what they hear from interlocutor;
  • Limited general vocabulary
  • Attempt to create simple sentences, but errors predominate and distort meaning;
  • Avoids using complex structures.
  • Speaker’s 1st language strongly influences syntax;
  • Generally understood by sympathetic speakers used to non-natives with repetition and rephrasing;
1—ready for Foundations A Isolated words and memorized phrases.
  • Relies almost solely on formulaic/memorized language;
  • Two or three word answers in responding to questions;
  • Very limited context for vocabulary;
  • Communicate minimally and with difficulty;
  • Frequent pausing, recycling their own or interlocutor’s words;
  • Resort to repetition, words from their native language, or silence if task is too difficult;
  • Understood with great difficulty even by those used to dealing with non-natives
0—ready for Foundations prep Isolated words.
  • No real functional ability;
  • Given enough time and familiar cues, may be able to exchange greetings, give their identity and name a number of familiar objects from their immediate environment;
  • Cannot participate in true conversational exchange;
  • Length of speaking sample may be insufficient to assess accuracy;
  • Nearly incomprehensible even by those used to dealing with non-natives