It’s More Than Speaking Practice

Besides extra speaking practice for your students and a simpler way to assess spontaneous speech, recordings completed with Extempore provide data for teachers to inform various aspects of their teaching. Here are some ideas.

Use recordings as data for formative assessment. Even if you use Extempore just for extra speaking practice and not for assessing oral skills, listening to your students’ recordings will tell you the areas they are still struggling with and whether you can move on to more complex structures.

Create new lesson plans and engaging classroom activities. In one Extempore assignment, I asked students to share what they had done over Thanksgiving break. Besides informally assessing how well my students were narrating past events, I used the information they shared to create a scavenger hunt activity for the next day.  They had fun with the activity and it showed them I did listen to their recordings.

Get to know your students better. In the foreign language classroom, students get to share much about themselves: they talk about their families, pastimes, likes and dislikes, daily routines, etc. Although it is virtually impossible to listen to what all students say during classroom speaking practice, when they record in Extempore you have a wonderful opportunity to learn who they are as people. Take note of what your students share (or don’t share) and use it to build rapport with them.

Do action research. In the foreign language classroom, action research is the systematic study of learners’ language performance with the goal of improving our teaching practices. The Extempore App can act a data elicitation tool to obtain various types of oral production: planned or unplanned, monologues or dialogues, audio or video, etc. For example, if you want to know which topics encourage your particular group of students to speak longer, you can have them record three Extempore tasks, each on a different topic. You then compare the mean length of recordings and whether the topic had any effect on it.