4.8 Speaking and listening assessments
This section specifically introduces the discussion assessments for Functional Skills English Level 1 and Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 1. However, if you are not studying for these qualifications you will still find the activity useful so please read through the section, watch the film and try out Activity 32.
To pass a Functional Skills English Level 1 assessment, you need to take part successfully in two discussions. To pass an Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 1 assessment, you need to take part in one formal discussion.
Functional Skills English Level 1 speaking and listening assessments
Of the two group discussions you need to take part in, one is formal and the other is informal. They both last for about ten minutes, although different exam boards have slightly different rules, so this might vary depending on where you do the course.
One of the discussions you take part in will be on an unfamiliar topic. This will be a topic that you have little or no knowledge of. The topic will be agreed with everybody before the discussion takes place. It means you will need to do some research on the topic as preparation for the discussion. This research can be done on a computer or even your phone and you will need to make notes on the topic so that you can contribute with relevant information, ideas and opinions.
The other discussion will be on a familiar topic, so you will not have to research it. You still need to prepare and make notes on what you want to say.
Below is an outline of the kind of things you need to do or show to pass the assessments. All exam boards are different, but these are typical things that your teacher needs to see you do well.
You need to do (and show) the following things to pass the Functional Skills English Level 1 discussion assessment.
Functional Skills English Level 1 discussion assessment criteria
- Prepare for discussions of ideas and opinions.
- Contribute to discussions of ideas and opinions.
- Make relevant contributions to discussions.
- Make extended contributions to discussions.
- Allow for others’ input – listen to others’ contributions.
- Respond to others’ input.
- Make different kinds of contributions – ask questions, answer questions, ask for things to be clarified or repeated if necessary.
- Present information and/or points of view clearly .
- Use appropriate language.
- Use appropriate body language, gestures and facial expressions, and maintain eye contact.
Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 1 speaking and listening assessment
You will need to take part in a formal discussion on a given topic. You will be asked to read a document about the topic (which may be unfamiliar to you) and make notes about what you want to say during the discussion based on what you have read.
The discussion will be with at least two other people. It will last for a minimum time of 10 minutes with 3-6 people in the group and a minimum time of approximately 20 minutes for larger groups. You will be able to use your notes during the discussion.
Essential Skills Wales Communication Level 1 discussion assessment criteria
You need to do (and show) the following things to pass the Essential Skills discussion assessment.
- Say what you think/feel about the subject, expressing your ideas in an appropriate way.
- Provide information about the subject, using appropriate language throughout the discussion.
- Make clear and relevant contributions.
- Use appropriate phrases or gestures in order to join in the discussion.
- Respect the turn-taking rights of others.
- Use strategies to support what you are saying, such as eye contact and positive body language.
- Pay close attention to what others say and respond to them appropriately.
- Ask others in the group about their opinions.
Activity 32 Observing a discussion
Watch the video below of a discussion about drones. Observe closely the participant on the right-hand side. Using either the Functional Skills discussion criteria or the Essential Skills discussion criteria above, evaluate her performance. Do you think she does all of the things needed to pass an assessment?
The participant on the right meets the criteria to pass both assessments.
- She had clearly prepared – saying she had looked online – and she shared the information she had found.
- She contributed regularly throughout the discussion, taking the lead role and opening and closing the discussion and asking questions of each of the others more than once.
- She offered facts, opinions and ideas about drones and made more than one extended contribution.
- It was clear she was listening to others as she prompted and agreed when others were speaking, and nodded and smiled appropriately.
- She allowed others to speak and if she did add comments they were often supportive and encouraging.
- Her use of language was suitable for the topic and the situation; it was considered, audible and clear at all times.
- Her body language was positive – she sat upright and used hand gestures positively throughout.
It was a strong performance.