Speaking Portfolios in the World Languages Classroom

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What Are Speaking Portfolios?

If you have landed on this website, it is probably because you have used electronic written portfolios in your classroom and are intrigued by the concept of a speaking portfolio.  Same as in the written version, a speaking portfolio is a collection of a student’s work samples that present concrete evidence of their language development. In this case, the focus is on the progression of their oral skills.


Applying Speaking Portfolios

In order to use speaking portfolios for assessment they must be compiled and stored on a CD or website, or a combination of both. Extempore is one way to record classroom-based interactions and non-interactive speaking tasks assigned as homework that can later be used as evidence of progress.  The importance of the compilation process is that all speaking tasks need to be accessed at one point by the learner and by the instructor in order to reflect on and evaluate learning.

Because the topic that we are talking about can affect our oral performance, it is good practice to have common themes or at least a guiding thread in the items that make part of the portfolio. If students are recording audio or video journals outside of the classroom every week, these are good candidates for portfolio items because they usually revolve around the same themes or topics. Thus, comparisons of a student’s performance between the beginning and end of the semester are more valuable.

Making it Authentic for Your Classroom

Whichever items we choose to include in the portfolios, an important component of this type of authentic assessment is self-reflection. Some questions that can be asked for students to reflect on the progress of their speaking skills are: What strengths and weakness can you identify as you listen to your speech samples and review the feedback from your instructor? Can you point to specific examples that show those strengths and weaknesses? Based on those strengths and weaknesses, what goals do you have to work on your speaking skills? What specific strategies will you follow to reach those goals?

By answering these questions, students develop self-awareness as language learners and take responsibility for their own learning. Because they focus on growth, these questions help students feel more positive and confident about the learning experience. Ultimately, because of the student’s involvement in creating, compiling, and reflecting upon the different items in the portfolio, this is a great tool for alignment of learning objectives, pedagogy, and assessment.

If you are looking for more assessment and activity ideas, we have compiled a FREE activities eBook linked below! Feel free to try it out!

Speaking Activities PDF