Investigating Spoken Language and the Oral Interview in the Examen de Fin Secondaires
The main aim of the thesis is to explore the reliability, validity and effectiveness of this speaking test. In order to do so, I will critically review its aims and objectives, format, tasks, topics, marking system, and the role of the examiners, comparing it to the speaking tests in the FCE (First Certificate in English), CAE (Certificate in Advanced English), CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English), IELTS (International English Language Testing System) and TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) examinations, which are the best-known international tests of English language proficiency. The research methodology that I will adopt is a combination of qualitative and quantitative data gathering. I will carry out a qualitative analysis of:
the test specifications for and marking systems of the FCE, CAE, CPE, IELTS and TOEFL speaking tests;
a speech by Brian Page about the importance of oral competence in second/foreign language teaching, which was given in 1992 at a symposium in Luxembourg (which Page coordinated) and printed alongwith a report by Page in the handbook entitled Oral, which was published
by the Ministère de l’Éducation Nationale in the same year;
the test specifications for and marking system of the oral interview in the Examen de Fin d’Études Secondaires;
the visual prompts, reading passages and discussion tasks in a number of interview questionnaires;
examiner attitudes to the oral interview in the Examen de Fin d’Études Secondaires.
I will make a quantitative comparison between:
the topics in 350 oral interview questionnaires in the Examen de Fin d’Études Secondaires;
the findings from a questionnaire about the reliability, validity and effectiveness of the oral interview in the Examen de Fin d’Études Secondaires, which was completed by 40 examiners.
The findings of this thesis should provide relevant data that can be used for further research by the Commission Nationale pour les Programmes d’Anglais if the need for a revision of the current framework for testing the spoken English of A-level students in Luxembourg arises. This may indeed happen in the near future because the growing acceptance of the standards presented in the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), which has become a key reference document for language learning, teaching and assessment, has created an increasing necessity to relate the aims and objectives, assessment criteria, band scales and band descriptors of speaking tests, including the oral interview in the Examen de Fin d’Études Secondaires, to those defined in the CEFR.