What’s the Best Pronunciation Diagnostic Tool?
Finding an authentic, practical, valid, and reliable assessment tool for pronunciation is a bit of a struggle. I’m torn between wanted to used a controlled method by having students read a paragraph or a semi-controlled method by having students read a first part of a story and then use pictures to finish it in their own words.
Controlled Vs. Semi-Controlled Methods to Generate Speech
Both have pros and cons. Controlled methods have students produce speech acts that they may not do on their own, i.e. pronounce multi-syllable words, ask questions, use reported speech, etc., but the act of reading aloud doesn’t produce natural speech in NES, let alone NNES. With the cons in mind, this semester I’ve opted for the semi-controlled method.
A “complete the story task” has students produce authentic speech and reading acts so that the teacher can assess students’ reading comprehension, fluency, and pronunciation accuracy. By assessing interrelated language skills, the test is integrative. The task is communicative in that it produces an authentic speech act: telling a story, and an authentic reading task: reading for information. The task is an example of alternative/formative assessment in that it assesses students’ developing English language skills and the feedback would later be used to inform both the teacher’s identification of strengths and weaknesses and foster students’ independent learning. The tester uses the same story task with each student and evaluates students’ responses using a rubric, thereby aiming to promote inter-rater reliability. The rubric insures that the tester assesses students’ reading comprehension, fluency, and pronunciation accuracy; not their consistent use of tense, agreement, etc., thereby making the assessment valid.