In this article you will discover everything you need to know about to accurately assess your student’s level during the Speaking Placement

About the placement test

What is the placement test?

When new Fluentify students join the platform they take a placement test to assess their level.

How does it work?

The written part has four components: reading, listening, grammar and vocabulary. This part is followed by an oral assessment.

What do I have to do, as a teacher?

It’s your job to conduct the oral assessment, which takes place during the student’s first session on the platform.This person might become a new regular student or the placement test might be just a one-off 30-minute session with someone who will either  look for a new teacher, or, maybe even never book again on Fluentify. This is certainly not what we or you want.

Great, can you give me some tips on how to conduct the speaking placement?

Of course! Here is what you should achieve during the speaking placement test session:

1. Assess your student 

After the session you are asked to fill out a detailed form in which you assess your student’s speaking skills – fluency, accuracy, pronunciation and comprehension. The most important part is when you are asked to choose the overall level which can be the same as the written test result but if you feel it should be higher or lower, YOU can change the level! YOU decide!

2. Analyse your student’s needs and learning objectives.

Mark these goals in the written evaluation below.

3. Tell your student how YOU and Fluentify can help them achieve their learning goals

Offer suggestions and ideas for a programme your student can follow.

4. Make your student feel at ease and relaxed

If they enjoy the session, they are likely to book more!

5. Finish the session giving your student clear advice on what to do next

For example, look at your calendar (make sure it is updated for a few weeks ahead) and pick a slot to get started with the course!

What should I look for when assessing my student’s English level?

The four components of the speaking assessment are comprehension, fluency, pronunciation and accuracy. Let’s look at each of those in more detail.

1. Fluency: How easily does the student speak and participate?

You can evaluate fluency by listening for a few different things such as how comfortable the student is, how easily he or she is able to form sentences, ideas, and thoughts, and how quickly the student can change from talking about one topic to the next. If there are many long pauses or gaps where the student can’t complete a phrase, then your student probably has some issues with fluency.

BUT: Don’t form an opinion in the first 5 minutes- sometimes students need to warm up before they are able to reach their full fluency level.

HOW TO MANAGE: If the student is clearly struggling, try to help them by providing some vocabulary or modeling the proper grammar form. However, remember to continue giving both physical (head nods and smiles) and verbal (yes, exactly or good job) feedback to encourage the student to keep going.

2. Accuracy: How precise is the student’s English?

Some of your students might struggle with their fluency because they are concerned with making very few grammar and vocabulary mistakes, something that is often taught in standard English classrooms. You might notice that some of your students, while they speak very slowly and with caution, make very few mistakes. This indicates high accuracy.

BUT: High accuracy may be restricting students from achieving greater fluency because they are more concerned with being precise than speaking more naturally.

HOW TO  MANAGE: Encourage students to make mistakes, take risks, and to not be ashamed of their English level. The more comfortable students feel, the more easily they can improve their fluency level. Also, talk about the student’s goals at the beginning of the session. If their goal is to focus more on fluency and being able to speak rather than not making mistakes, let them speak and wait until the end of the session to make corrections.

3. Pronunciation: How well does your student pronounce English words and sounds?

Articulation– Listen for clearly articulated words and the appropriate pronunciation of strangely spelled words. These will help you understand which sounds the student might need to improve.

Intonation– Understand whether the student is using the right inflection for the types of sentences he or she is saying. Does it make a difference in the meaning of the sentence or how easily someone else would understand it? Make a note of these issues so that you can address them later on.

BUT: Bad pronunciation does not mean poor fluency, sometimes some of your more fluent students may have less than desirable pronunciation.

HOW TO MANAGE: Identify the specific sounds that the student continues to struggle with. When you notice a frequent error, ask the student to repeat the statement and then give them feedback on the proper pronunciation of the word or phrase. Pronunciation can be one of the hardest things to fix, so it is important to continually reinforce proper pronunciation.

4. Comprehension: How well does the student understand you?

Use body language and the student’s responses to check for comprehension.

Body Language– if the student is looking at you confused, not responding, or seems absolutely petrified, then you know to take a second and start from the top. These physical cues will give you an idea of what pace you should be speaking at and what kind of language you should use (simple, medium, advanced).

Appropriate Responses– If you ask the student about what kind of university he or she attended and then the response has to do with English goals, there is a clear misunderstanding.

BUT: Comprehension can be improved quickly- recommend some videos, TV shows, podcasts, or a radio station that the student can start following daily in order see improvements quickly.

HOW TO MANAGE: At the beginning, always presume that the student’s comprehension level will be low. Then as you start your introduction, their physical feedback will help you understand right away if he or she is understanding you or not. Adjust your pace accordingly.

B2B Trial Profile

B2B (PRO) tutors will sometimes see the tag B2B TRIAL PROFILE on their calendars. This means that an HR representative from a potential client has booked a session to test the platform on behalf of their company. This trial session occurs as a placement test.

As you can imagine these sessions are extremely important to Fluentify and our tutor team because new clients often decide to sign up for Fluentify based on their experience in the trial session.

For B2B Trial Profile bookings, follow these steps for a successful session
  1. Send the student a welcome message in the chat when they book.
  2. During the session, it is not necessary to mention that you know it is a trail session. Instead treat it as a placement session, but with more emphasis on answering questions about the platform.
  3. End the placement test earlier than usual and ask the student if they have any questions about the platform. Go through key features including the study plan, the FL level system, feedback forms, the fact that students are free to select the tutors they wish to work with, as well as your lesson structure and homework tasks.
  4. End by giving the student an assigned level and submit a normal test feedback form as soon as possible. In addition, you could give the student some homework (if this is your usual practice).

Final thoughts

Now you’re ready. Remember, you have 30 minutes to test your student, create a very friendly atmosphere and make your students know that with Fluentify and your teaching they are on the right track to improving their English.

So, what about you? What do you usually do to assess your student’s level? Any suggestions? Share them with us