Saturday 3 July 2021

Most language educators would agree that testing spoken language is often challenging in educational settings due to its logistically-complex and resource-intensive nature. Uruguay was not an exception, despite the success of the Plan Ceibal one computer-tablet per child initiative in schools.

This presentation reports on a recent collaborative project that has developed and validated a localised semi-direct speaking test for young learners at the end of primary and beginning of secondary education in Uruguay targeting CEFR levels pre-A1 to A2. In this talk, we provide an overview of the project and the results of (i) a pilot with 210 learners and 8 examiners and (ii) a CEFR-linking exercise with 14 expert panellists, while focusing on some of the challenges encountered as well as the technological innovations made in the project.

For example, to counter a lack of interlocutor scaffolding (e.g., Field, 2018; Hasselgreen & Caudwell, 2016) in an online environment, the test incorporated instructional videos in the learners’ L1 with a young teacher-like figure, and allowed repetition of prompts. It also featured game-like tasks to enhance learners’ motivation. Given the beginner-level language ability of the candidature, another challenge was to divide the CEFR A1 category into sub-levels for score-reporting purposes. The CEFR linking panel offered insights into how many granular levels can be reliably evaluated with the specific output language on the test.. As well as sharing the validation evidence that we have obtained in this test development project, we will discuss implications for other speaking assessments for young learners particularly those at CEFR A-levels


Gabriela Kaplan has worked in teacher education for more than 20 years

Gabriela Kaplan

Plenary speaker - General Coordinator of the Ceibal en Inglés programme at Plan Ceibal , Uruguay

has worked in teacher education for more than 20 years, especially in the fields of literature and culture of English-speaking countries and is passionate about public education. She co-designed the programme Ceibal en Inglés when she worked at Políticas Lingüísticas at the National Board of Education (ANEP) in Uruguay.   

Plenary Abstract: Developing a localised semi-direct speaking test for young learners in Uruguay: challenges and innovations


Fumiyo joined CRELLA in 2009. She holds a PhD in Language Testing, an MA in Applied Linguistics and a Postgraduate Diploma in TEFL from the University of Essex

Fumiyo Nakatsuhara

Plenary speaker - Reader in Language Assessment at the Centre for Research in English Language Learning and Assessment , University of Bedfordshire, UK

Her main research interests lie in the nature of co-constructed interaction in speaking tests, task design, rating scale development, and the relationship between listening and speaking skills. She has led a number of international testing projects, working with ministries, universities, and examination boards. 

Plenary Abstract: Developing a localised semi-direct speaking test for young learners in Uruguay: challenges and innovations