Speaking Rubric for Fluency Activities (1)

The rubric below is a speaking rubric created by Pearson Education accessible here that can be used to assess a variety of speaking fluency activities.  The designers offer a few examples of what those activities may be, as can be seen below.

Roleplays, debates, and interviews are all good examples of activities that could be accurately assessed by the rubric below, based on the fact that they are activities that involve speaking and some degree of fluency.  They are also just good activities to use in the classroom,especially the roleplays, because they allow students to use authentic language and act out scenarios they may experience in real life.  As Joe Budden described in an article for the British Council Teaching English website that can be read here, roleplays give students the opportunity to “rehearse their English in a safe environment” and allows them to experience and work through a variety of language opportunities.  For these reasons, the following rubric could be very useful in class.


The rubric itself has a proficiency scale from 1-4 with 4 being the best and 1 being the worst, and under each level it has a variety of competencies that should be met to achieve that level.  While I don’t mind the layout of the rubric, if I were to use it in my class I would restructure it to be a grid instead, with each competency having its own box.  That would make it easier to assign the student a different number for each competency as necessary, since it is unlikely they would have the same numbered score for each bullet point.  For example, if the student “uses a variety of vocabulary and expressions”, which is level 4, but also “uses a variety of grammar structures, but makes some errors”, which is level 3, I would want to be able to clearly indicate that.

The competencies themselves within each level each look at different parts of speaking.  The first looks at vocabulary, and would have students at the highest level use “a variety of vocabulary and expressions”.  The second looks at the students’ grammar and would have the student use “a variety of structures with only occasional grammatical errors” at the highest level.  The third competency is about fluency itself while speaking and would have the student speak smoothly with little hesitation that does not interfere with communication in order to achieve a 4.  The fourth competency is about staying on task and responding appropriately, and the final competency looks at the students’ pronunciation and intonation.  To achieve a 4, the student would need pronunciation and intonation that is “almost always” accurate.

I like the different categories that the rubric is split into, with vocabulary, grammar, fluency, responding appropriately, and pronunciation/intonation each being their own category.  I also like that the rubric is general and could be applied to a variety of activities, as stated above.  However, as Radhika De Silva states in her article “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”, in order to be successful it is very important that a rubric is clear and also completely understood by the students, meaning the teacher should be sure to talk through the rubric in class.  If I were to use this rubric in my classroom, I would likely want to adapt it slightly to make it more specific to the activity I was assessing, or I would want to explain thoroughly to the students what I intended with each level.  For example, instead of having a generic “uses a variety of vocabulary and expressions”, I would want it to be clear to the students exactly what vocabulary and expressions I am expecting them to use.  Likely it would be vocabulary from the unit being taught or expressions specifically relevant to the activity they would be doing.  The same would be true for the grammar part of the rubric.  The section about speaking fluently without hesitation would likely not need to be adapted to activity or level, but I would want to make sure my students know exactly what I mean by “smoothly” and “little hesitation”.  The section about responding appropriately would likely be different based on the activity or level being assessed, so for that category I would want to make sure the students know beforehand what appropriate and inappropriate responses would be.  Lastly, the pronunciation and intonation section would likely be the same regardless of activity.  However, based on the level of the students and the class, the proficiency expected for achieve a 4 in pronunciation and intonation might look different.  Whatever it may be, I would again want to make sure that the expectations are clear beforehand.

Overall, I like this rubric for speaking activities because it can be used for many different types of these kinds of activities, such as debates, roleplays, and interviews, and because it lays out a set of expectations at each of 4 levels of proficiency.  However, in order to make the rubric absolutely clear to the students and to make it more relevent to the activity actually being assessed, I would likely want to adapt it.  I would do so by turning the two columns into a grid, and by making the categories specifically relevant to the task assigned, especially the vocabulary and grammar section.  I would also want to make sure to explain the rubric fully to the class before utilizing it for assessment.

Works Cited

Budden, Joe. “Role-Play.” Teaching English, British Council, www.teachingenglish.org.uk/article/role-play.

De Silva, Radhika. “Rubrics for Assessment: Their Effects on ESL Students’ Authentic Task Performance”.  Open University of Sri Lanka, 136-14

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1 thought on “Speaking Rubric for Fluency Activities (1)

  1. Ellie,

    A speaking rubric like this is great because it’s simple and straight forward. I have seen some elaborate rubrics for speaking activities, but for in-class assessment they aren’t very practical. A teacher most likely isn’t going to be able to listen and accurately assess a student in the moment if the rubric is too involved. My only caution with the rubric is the word “accurate” with regard to pronunciation. If meaning is being communicated clearly but with a strong accent, I may be inaccurate but its still a success in my book. Insightful post!

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