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We must provide different speaking tasks which activate our different speaking processes. The tasks should elicit behaviour which truly represents the candidates’ ability and which can be scored validly and reliably (Hughes, 1991, pg. 101). Although speaking can seem both simple and natural it is, in fact, a very complex skill with several stages to follow. From the conceptualisation of an idea we must then convert that idea into language. This is done through both lexical and grammatical knowledge. Through this knowledge we are able to form sentences and phrases in order to vocalise our idea. Once we have the essential words, sentences and phrases these are then changed into sound or articulated. This is how a non-verbal idea becomes an actual verbal expression. As you will know, when we speak we are constantly monitoring ourselves in order to ensure the flow of speech continues smoothly, whether this be through our internal access to vocabulary, grammar or intonation, etc. When we speak all of these stages are completed automatically and naturally this is why speaking can be so challenging for learners. If a learner lacks both lexical and analytical knowledge their retrieval of that vocabulary or grammar may well take longer causing a less natural or automatic response to a task or question through longer pauses and hesitations.We must then ensure that testing incorporates all manner of validity and reliability in order to produce a rounded and more thorough outcome.


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