Implementing a speaking test at Grade 6 (primary school) in South Africa

  • Charlotte Mbali
  • Julie Douglas


This article is concerned with benchmarking the oral English skills of a small sample of Grade 6 learners in a local KwaZulu-Natal primary school where English is not the first language for either teachers or learners, but is the language of learning and teaching (LoLT). A structured assessment was made of learners’ oral English skills based on the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) for assessing language skills across the languages of Europe, using material available online from the series of tests for EFL learners developed by Cambridge-ESOL. We specifically used the KEY English Test (KET) test for young learners at the A2 level of the CEFR. The test consists of an interlocutor-led interview designed to elicit learner responses using a variety of tenses, and an interaction in pairs with a poster as stimulus. Assessment was done on Likert scales for comprehension, pronunciation, lexis, grammar and pragmatics. One assessor was observer of the test, and the other two, including the interlocutor, analysed recordings. This was a preliminary study to be expanded into exploring how speaking skills in English can be better taught and assessed at this level.

Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies 2012, 30(4): 525–537

Author Biographies

Charlotte Mbali
School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa
Julie Douglas
School of Education, University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban 4041, South Africa

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 1727-9461
print ISSN: 1607-3614