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Test of Spoken English

Test Name: Test of Spoken English
Publisher: Educational Testing Service
Publication Date: 1992
Test Type: Language Proficiency
Content: Speaking/Listening in L2
Language: English
Target Population: English Language Learner (ELL)
Grade Level: Adult
Administration Time: 16-30 min
Standardized: Yes
Purpose: Proficiency

The purpose of the Test of Spoken English (TSE) is to evaluate the English speaking proficiency of persons whose native language is not English. It is used mostly by academic institutions, although it is sometimes used by health-related professionals to determine if an applicant is sufficiently fluent to converse in English in personal care situations. The TSE is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) as an accompaniment to the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). The TSE contains seven sections, each involving a particular speech activity. The first section is an unscored "warm-up" in which the examinee responds orally to a series of biographical questions spoken on the test tape. In the second section, the examinee reads aloud a printed passage (of approximately 125 words) and is told that scoring will be based on pronunciation and overall clarity of speech. Time is allowed for preliminary silent reading of the passage. In the third section, the examinee sees a series of ten partial sentences and is asked to complete each sentence orally in a way that conveys meaning and is grammatically correct. The fourth section consists of six drawings or pictures that "tell a story." After studying the pictures briefly, the examinee is asked to tell the story depicted by the pictures, and to include as much detail as possible. In Section 5 the examinee looks at a single drawing and answers a series of spoken questions about the picture's content. Section 6 consists of a series of spoken questions intended to elicit free and somewhat lengthy responses from the examinee. The questions require both descriptions of common objects and open-ended expressions of opinion on familiar issues. The linguistic quality and adequacy of communication rather than the specific content knowledge revealed are considered in scoring this section. In the seventh and final section, the examinee sees a printed schedule, such as a program for a conference, and is asked to describe it aloud, as though informing a group of students or colleagues. Scoring is done by the publisher and results are expressed in the form of an Overall Comprehensibility Score (0-300), and scores on Pronunciation, Grammar, and Fluency. Each scoring level comes with a description of what a score falling in that range means in terms of actual performance ability. Inter-rater reliability of ETS raters ranges from .77 to .94. Concurrent validity with Foreign Service Institute ratings was assessed in the .70s.

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