I just wanted to share a quick post as a few people had asked on Twitter about the speaking homework I set my year 9s. We are building up to the BA Language Flag Award (information can be found here)and the majority of the test is graded on their spoken language. With a class of 28 I can't give them the individual attention they deserve on 5 hours a fortnight (well maybe I can, but I don't feel like it is ever enough when it comes to individual feedback on pronunciation, intonation and fluency, which the test is marked on) so I set them a little task.
Part one of the test requires a general conversation element - we had a discussion in class as to what they thought might be useful to know in order to be able to cope with this part of the test and brainstormed some vocabulary. I didn't guide them too much - one because the guidelines state you can't but also I wanted them to produce something really personal. They created a draft and then for homework went away and recorded it using Vocaroo.com. I absolutely love this website as it is so user friendly and despite being basic, has some great functionality. The students recorded themselves reciting their draft on the site and when it came to save, hit the QR Code button and it produced a code that they printed and stuck in their books. I took these in and listened to each student individually, marking and giving pointers on their fluency, pronunciation and intonation and pointing out key phonic mistakes.
Whilst I marked their drafts for glaringly obvious errors, I didn't correct every single one as I was keen to keep this a speaking activity. I didn't want to put them off producing something that wasn't near perfect as I think the main problem for their year group is the fear of speaking aloud in the target language. I made sure to acknowledge this and leave a positive comment referring to the audio clip too so that it wasn't just a series of things to do better.
I have just taken the books back in, having asked students to reflect on if they liked the task or not and why and it made for really interesting reading - most could see the value in the task but many commented on how awkward it felt. I'm hoping to continue to amp up the speaking practise in lessons so eventually we lose that awkwardness and develop into confident speakers of Spanish.