Advancing and Reassessing Oral Skills for English

Among the necessary skills and competencies described by the European Commission (Recommendation 2006/962/EC on crucial competencies for lifelong learning) we can find “Communicating in a foreign language” understood as “the ability to express and interpret concepts, thoughts, feelings, facts, and opinions both orally and in writing” in a foreign language. According to different European reports, European citizenship has as prerequisite the effective mastering of a second language, with English being the language of choice in most of the countries. On the other hand, external evaluation tests of the English proficiency of Europeans systematically show results that prove the low capacity of the students from Southern countries in the English oral skills (listening & speaking), with an obvious imbalance when compared to Northern Europe. So, we must agree that we need to improve the level of English of our students and to promote their skills about the use of the primary foreign language. And this is our main purpose.

The project aims to influence the development of teacher evaluation skills to enhance reflection on the practice and provide a better understanding of the increase in the chances of success of students with the implementation of a competency assessment. Our ultimate goal is to include useful evaluation tests of oral skills in the final exams of these secondary levels. These tests would have a specific weight in the final grade, which will make teachers and students. The tools that we are going to develop will be useful to support teachers’ work in the classroom, they will help teachers to assess and improve oral competences of their students. These tools are related to teaching methodologies, a bank of digital resources and an online platform to guide the educational work in every competence of oral skills in English. Finally, we will provide a guideline with recommendations for teachers, schools, stakeholders and policy makers.

We are going to organize four multiplier events, one in every country (Spain, Italy, Portugal and Turkey). The last of them will be the international final conference which will be organized in Murcia (Spain) as coordinator of the project. We will organize a training course for teachers from every country, a total of 16 secondary teachers who will learn about innovative methodologies and AROSE tools.

After the project, we expect the next main intellectual outputs: an oral skills assessment model; a bank of OER useful to the assessment of English oral skills; a toolkit for secondary teachers plus an open online course; a web based evaluation tool; and finally, a guideline with recommendations to teachers, families, stakeholders and educational policy makers in Europe. About direct results we expect to improve secondary teachers’ competences about English as a foreign language and also to assess the students about oral skills and to promote the work with digital resources in the classroom. This international consortium will provide them the opportunity to work in international teams using digital networks and sharing good experiences among them. We also expect to improve the oral skill level of the students who have participated in this project as the leading indicator of quality and usability of produced resources and tools. We intend to promote the implication of stakeholders and other educational & social agents in every partners’ country. And finally, we also expect to produce a global impact on educational institutions promoting the implication of all the teachers of English and with the involvement of the headmaster and the school community. In the same way, we expect to enhance the quality of English teaching and assessment with the exploitation of the AROSE open resources and tools in the regions and countries and finally, to facilitate international cooperation among south-European countries to develop common strategies and policies