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Mar 98

English Oral Assessment

Had an oral assessment today. I had to give a 5 minute speech to a panel of teachers on how an article related to topic of “Crossing Boundaries”. Anyway, there were three teachers listening. One of the things I noticed was that the whole thing was a total setup. Firstly, I noticed the mannerisms of each teacher. One had a smile, was attentive, nodded his head in acknowledgment of a point, and generally was polite through the whole of my speech. The one in the middle was seated forward slightly, and he stared at me with a frown or grimace through the entire speech. The one on the right didn’t event look at me! He had his head down looking at something (I think it was my article, or the marking roll). Teachers simply do not do that. I’m willing to bet money that it was a set up. Why would they bother? Well I have a couple theories : in public speaking, you have to make eye contact with everyone. With only one teacher being attentive (that stare is really offputting), it’s all to easy to spend all your time looking at that person, and thus in effect you are speaking to only one person, and not the rest of the audience. Secondly, they’re testing confidence or something. As I said, the stare is offputting – it makes you think that you’re saying something wrong, or the teacher doesn’t know what the hell you’re on about. Not true (they said my presentation was “very clear” and they didn’t have to ask any questions, so that must have been a good thing – and the one that said I was very clear was the starer :). In fact, the only thing that put me off for half a second was when the “supportive” teacher nodded his head. And it was a big nod. Distracting.

The time limit of 5 minutes was strictly enforced, and a teacher would ring a warning bell at 4 minutes. Now, the “supportive” teacher was really slack. I was halfway through my second card (I used 3 cards), and he held out his hand as if I was drawing up towards 4 minutes. I knew this was in no way the case, but I still had a smear of doubt in my mind. Anyway, he holds his hand over the bell for a whole minute, then withdraws it. At this time I’m thinking “What the Hell?”. In the end I made the five minutes right on the dot. I reckon this set up was to see if I would speed up my speech and talk faster (not a good thing). I’m not sure if I did, but if I did, it was just as well – I wouldn’t have otherwise made the time limit.

So why have I bothered typing this? Well, it’s just a couple of helpful observations in case you are in a similar situation. You may identify if it is a set up, and act accordingly. I still think it’s slack though. It is a speaking assessment, but still, you shouldn’t try to put off the speaker…

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