Authors Paul Seedhouse and Andrew Harris Newcastle University, United Kingdom Grant awarded Round 14, 2008 This study investigates topic development in the Speaking Test, applying a Conversation Analysis (CA) institutional discourse methodology to transcribed test audio-recordings. The recommendations include adding a short Part 4 to the Test, in which candidates lead a discussion and ask the examiner topic-related questions.
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This study investigated topic development in the Speaking Test, applying a Conversation Analysis (CA) institutional discourse methodology to a corpus of 60 transcribed test audio-recordings. Topic is presented as a vital construct in the Speaking Test, as inextricably entwined with the organisation of turn-taking, sequence and repair, and as directly related to the institutional goal of ensuring validity in the assessment of English speaking proficiency. In the data, management of topic is almost entirely pre-determined by the examiner’s script and how this script is interactionally implemented throughout each individual interview. There are asymmetrical rights to topic management between examiner and candidate. Examiners mark topic boundary markers in a variety of ways and employ a variety of next moves when candidates have produced a response to a question. Topic is integrated into the organisation of the interaction in that there is an archetypal organisation which combines turn-taking, adjacency pair and topic, as follows. Examiner questions contain two components: a) an adjacency pair component, which requires the candidate to provide an answer; and b) a topic component, which requires the candidate to develop a specific topic. This organisation may be termed a ‘topic-based Q-A adjacency pair’. So in the Speaking Test, unlike in conversation, topic is always... [continues]
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