ERG SES E 03, Assessment and Education
The introduction to linguistic discourse of the term competence has been generally associated with Chomsky (1965). According to him, competence is a person’s innate language capacity, that is, the speakers-hearer’s knowledge of his own language. This conception, enriched by the sociolinguistic dimension of Hymes (1972), places competence, now communicative, in the field of performance, that is, the effective use of language in specific contexts, ruled by sociocultural norms. Subsequently, this concept was extended with the contributions of Canale and Swain (1980; Canale, 1983), which add to the concept a strategic and discursive ability. Communicative competence is effective when the individual puts into practice the use of his abilities, in different communicative contexts, which requires precise communicative objectives, so that students understand the oral statements and interact in the various classroom situations. In this sense, in order to fulfil the objectives of the Program and Curricular Goals of Portuguese in middle school (Buescu, H., Morais, J., Rocha, M. R., & Magalhães, 2015), and since teachers undertake a dominant discourse (Castro, 1991), student participation must be emphasized. Moreover, oral communicative competence (OCC) should be promoted and developed in class, leading students to produce speeches in different situations (Sim-Sim, I., Duarte, I., & Ferraz, 1997). In this way, the assessment through instruments, especially observation grids, is fundamental, focusing on the communication components - verbal, paraverbal and nonverbal aspects (Rosales, 1994).
Speaking, as a communicative competence, has been a neglected skill in the teaching process of the Portuguese language within middle school, unlike what happens in secondary school. The absence of a highly demanding level in this area, mainly based on the difficulty that teachers experience in assessing it, reflects in the performance of students who have difficulties at the level of interaction and oral communication skills. These skills should be developed along with reading, writing and grammar, so that students' training can be implemented in full, throughout a formative process, based on methodologies and active pedagogical strategies that promote the development of these skills.
The oral communicative competence comprises verbal, paraverbal and nonverbal skills, used to communicate in different contexts. Therefore, the oral communication skills development program - Communication and Oral Expression: speaking, listening and reading in middle school – comprises 13 didactic units which give instructions to practise oral and written comprehension or expression, literary education, and verbal and non-verbal communication systems. These units are: 1) Presentation; 2) Most frequent communication difficulties; 3) Oral communication; 4) Oral texts; 5) Expressive reading; 6) Verbal and nonverbal language; 7) Spontaneous conversation and interview; 8) Literary dialogue; 9) Debate; 10) Oral narrative; 11) Oral description; 12) Oral presentation and 13) Oral argumentation.
This program’s main objective is to develop the oral communicative competence of middle school 7th grade students in L1 Portuguese classroom. Moreover, this research intends to evaluate its impact on the development of communicative competence. Thus, the program will ensure the participation of the students in a pedagogical experience that will allow the development of their oral different skills, so that they will be able to communicate adequately and effectively not only at school, but also in their future professional context.
Finally, this project investigation intends to answer the following questions at the end of the didactic intervention: 1) Students in the experimental group present significant improvements in terms of OCC; 2) Students in the experimental group show significant improvements in OCC, but maintain their relative position; 3) Students in the experimental group had significant gains in OCC, regardless their pre-test vocabulary level.
This quasi-experimental study design comprises a sample of 136 students, both male and female, aged 12 to 18. The experimental (n = 91) and control group (n = 45) are from two public middle schools located in Northern Portugal. The program, consisting of 13 didactic units structured in 30 sessions (100 min. each), was applied to 7th grade students and it takes place in L1 Portuguese classroom, from October 2018 to May 2019. The following instruments were applied in the academic year 2018-2019, pre-test (October, 2018) and post-test (May, 2019): 1) spelling, grammar and vocabulary, writing, reading and speaking tests; 2) GOAOCC - Grid for Observation and Assessment of the Oral Communicative Competence; 3) Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III) – Vocabulary Test; 4) SSQ Questionnaire - Student Form, comprising a self-report questionnaire for 7th to 12th grade levels. At the time of administration, the general objectives of the study were presented. Given the collective administration method of all instruments, except for WISC-III, used in both schools, standard instructions were provided on how to complete the questionnaires and tests, emphasizing the confidentiality of all information provided by the voluntary participants. The assessments were conducted by the teacher in the pre- and the post-tests. Ninety-one students (experimental group) follow the program Communication and Oral Expression: speaking, listening and reading in middle school throughout the academic year 2018-2019, along with their regular curricular contents. The program’s sessions were conducted by the teacher. Prior sensitization of teachers involved in the study took place at the beginning of the year through orientation meetings, in order to explain and establish the operationalization of the didactic intervention program. Forty-five students (control group) don’t follow the program. Both groups are required to conduct an individual presentation of four minutes twice during the academic year, at the end of the trimester (December, March and May). Before these individual presentations, students learned about successful and non-successful presentation behaviour. Therefore, GOAOCC – Grid for Observation and Assessment of the Oral Communicative Competence – was presented and its three components were explained (verbal, paraverbal and nonverbal). All sub-criteria were worked out in five performance levels. Each level was qualitatively described and is quantitatively assessed accordingly to the behaviour shown (5-Excellent; 4-Good; 3-Satisfactory; 2-Insufficient; 1-Failure). The presentation is previously monitored, and oral communicative competence is assessed by the teacher, on a self-selected topic, in order to assess students’ oral skills development.
This section describes the extent to which the oral communication skills development program - Communication and Oral Expression: speaking, listening and reading in middle school – influences 7th Grade students’ presentation scores related to verbal, paraverbal and nonverbal language components. Preliminary results of the implementation program will be presented, such as the most relevant conclusions from an intermediate evaluation.
Buescu, H., Morais, J., Rocha, M. R., & Magalhães, V. F. (2015). Programa e Metas Curriculares do Português do Ensino Básico. Lisboa: Ministério da Educação - DGE. Canale, M, & Swain, M. (1980). Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1, 1–47. Canale, M. (1983). From communicative competence to communicative language pedagogy. Language and Communication, 2–27. Castro, R. V. (1991). Aspetos da interação verbal em contexto pedagógico. Lisboa: Livros Horizonte. Chomsky, N. (1965). Aspects of the theory of syntax. Cambridge: The M.I.T. Press. Hymes, D. H. (1972). On communicative competence. In J. Pride, J., & Holmes (Ed.), Sociolinguistics (pp. 269–293). London: Penguin. Rosales, C. (1994). La enseñanza del lenguaje verbal en su entorno escolar y multicultural. Tórculo: Universidad de Santiago. Sim-Sim, I., Duarte, I., & Ferraz, M. J. (1997). A língua materna na educação básica: competências nucleares e níveis de desempenho. Lisboa: Ministério da Educação. Departamento de Educação Básica.
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