Why one-off speaking exams will aid modern foreign language teaching


One-off assessments to focus on the speaking element in GCSE modern foreign languages will be permitted next year, according to Ofqual.

Following a consultation into how language GCSEs will be assessed, the exams regulator has moved to detail how the exams process can be made safer for pupils.

A raft of changes to both A Level and GCSE modern foreign languages are expected, as Ofqual initially unveiled plans to change spoken language assessments in August.

Under those proposals, assessments will be undertaken by teachers throughout the course of study, with pupils marked against a three-point criteria of pass, merit and distinction.

As a result, the spoken element of modern foreign language courses will be reported separately to the grade for the subject (from 1-9) and will not be factored into the overall result calculation.

Assessment options for teaching staff

Ofqual will allow exam boards to let teachers use “specific one-off assessment opportunities” to assess spoken language, in addition to other regular classroom activities.

“It was not our intention that the proposed requirements would restrict the circumstances in which teachers could assess spoken language,” the Ofqual consultation document states.

“We have decided to amend the requirements to make it clear that awarding organisations may permit teachers to conduct spoken language assessments either as part of an ongoing classroom process or through specific one-off assessment opportunities.”

The consultation noted that some teaching staff had raised concerns over carrying out classroom assessments during normal teaching time and with adequate social distancing in place, so the updated guidance seeks to provide clarity.

The exams regulator has said teachers will be able to create tasks for assessment purposes or to use others they have used in previous years.

It follows a request for clarity in the consultation regarding which specific materials would be required to match the pass, merit and distinction criteria.

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