Interlocutor Proficiency in Paired Speaking Tests

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Huei-Chun Teng, National Taiwan University of Science and Technology

The study was aimed at investigating interlocutor proficiency in paired speaking tests. The participants were 20 EFL students from a university in Taiwan. 10 English major students were designated as learners of higher proficiency; the other 10 non-English major students were designated as learners of lower proficiency. A role-play task was adopted for the paired speaking test. The scoring rubric used a scale of 1 to 5 in four subcategories: grammar and vocabulary, pronunciation, fluency, and content. Results showed that lower proficiency participants performed significantly better in fluency, scored higher, and produced more language when talking to partners who had higher EFL proficiency. Most of the interactions in the paired oral test were collaborative, with high mutuality and equality. Through providing empirical evidence, this study can shed some light on the valid administration of EFL paired speaking tests.