By G. Adams, T. Peck, H. Piotrowski
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Additional info for 101 helpful hints for IELTS
Even though they are not precise, they are fully comprehensible in the speaking situation because they talk about people, things or activities that can be seen or because they are familiar to the speakers. They make spoken communication quick and easy, and few people would find anything strange about this in their mother tongue. Generic words may also come naturally to second-language learners, but in a foreign language context where learners have few opportunities to speak the language outside the classroom this feature of spoken language may be harder to notice and learn.
If someone is good at describing, it does not automatically mean that he or she is also good at comparing things, telling a story or justifying an opinion. This means that it is useful to test the types of talk separately, as they may give diﬀerent information about the learners’ skills. If there are alternative versions of a task within a test, it would probably also be useful to keep them within the same talk type, so that all examinees get some kind of a comparison task, for example, rather than some of them getting an instruction task and others a comparison.
While it might be a drawback that the construct is not contextualised in particular situations of language use, the advantage of this approach is Speaking tasks 35 that the results can be relevant for several diﬀerent ones. With formal tests such as the TSE, professional standards require that the developers provide evidence for this relevance for each intended use of the test. In this case, since the TSE is used for selecting candidates for teaching assistantships, among other things, the developers need to show that the functions are relevant for teaching assistants’ language use, and that examinees who gain good scores on the test meet the language requirements for their work while those who do not would find the language requirements of the work too demanding.