Oral proficiency assessment: The use of automatic speech recognition systems
The development and assessment of oral proficiency and listening comprehension is one of the most problematic aspects in language teaching, especially when the majority of testtakers are non-standard users of English. The main problems concern the feasibility of such testing and the need for reliable scoring. As far as feasibility is concerned, oral proficiency tests of communicative proficiency require much time as well as repeated assessment in the course of a semester or a year. To obtain a reliable score it is necessary to have more than one examiner, preferably also users of English as an additional language, to assess the same task. This paper will describe an attempt to use automatic speech recognition systems to obtain an objective score for oral proficiency. The process of test development and the subsequent digitalisation of speech, trialling and evaluation will be discussed with specific reference to a course that leads up to a language endorsement required by teacher trainees in South Africa. Copyright © 2008 NISC Pty Ltd.