Assessing Listening

Hanan Alqarni &Yuanyuan Sun
❖ Research
❖ Approaches to Listening Assessment
❖ Assessment Task Types
❖ Assessment Task Demonstration
❖ Scoring
❖ References
Why is listening important to assess?

- Listening is important for in-person communication with estimates that it
accounts for more than 45% time spent communicating (Ockey, 2012)
- Over 50 percent of the time that students spend functioning in a foreign language
will be devoted to listening (Nation, 2009)

Listening is arguably the least understood and most overlooked of the four skills (L, S,
R and W) in the language classroom (Nation, 2009)
Comprehension: A
complex listening
Comprehension, the final product of
listening, can be assessed by a variety of
methods (Vandergrift & Goh, 2012)

❖ Interaction of different sources of
information: the acoustic input
(such as stress and intonation),
linguistic and non linguistic
❖ A dynamic, ongoing process
❖ A multidimentional process
❖ A very individual, personal
process (Buck, 2001)
(Buck, 2001)
Models of Listening (Nation & Newton, 2009)
Types of Listening Listening Processes

❖ One-way listening—typically associated with ❖ Bottom-up Processes
the transfer of information (transactional
listening) Discriminating similar sounds; speech
❖ Two-way listening—typically associated with phonomena such as reduced forms and
maintaining social relations (interactional resyllabification
❖ Top-down Processes

Meaning-focused listening such as picture

When we put these two types of processing
together we see listening not as a single skill, but as
a variety of sub-skills.
Listening Sub-skills
(Buck, 2001)
❖ Theorists have
attempted to describe
comprehension in
terms of taxonomies
of sub-skills that
underlie the process.
❖ All the taxonomies
should be treated with

(Buck, P. 56, 57, 2001)
Factors Affecting Listening (Ockey, Level of Difficulty
Rate of Speech Length text/ words / pauses
Background knowledge about the topic
Complicity (syntax/ discourse)
Prosody: Stress and intonation
Types of interaction and relationships among
speakers Scoring (grammar, spelling)
Approaches to Assessing Listening (Buck, 2001)
The discrete-point approach: Integrative testing: Communicative Testing:

-Testing ability to recognise -Emphasis on assessing the - Emphasis on
elements of the language in their processing of language (not only communicative
oral form. know about language but use it) competence

-Discrete-points tests generally use - Tests of reduced redundancy, in
selected responses (True/False, which elements are removed thus
multiple choice) reducing the redundancy of the text, - Characteristics of test
are widely used items: Authentic texts;
-The most common tasks: phonemic providing a
discrimination tasks, paraphrase - e.g. Listening cloze, dictation communicative
recognition and response evaluation. purpose; authentic
Future Developments in Assessing Listening (Buck, 2001)
❖ Providing suitable texts: genuine vs authentic
❖ Visuals: video etc.
❖ Collaborative listening:

Requiring skills in terms of listener roles in interactive situations : the addressee,
participants who are not being directly addressed, over-hearers

❖ Computer-based testing
Assessment Task Types
Types of listening:

1- Intensive: phonemes, words, intonation.

2- Responsive: command question.

3- Selective: TV, news, stories.

4- Extensive: listening for the gist, the main idea, making
Designing Assessment Tasks: Intensive listening
❖ Recognizing phonological and ❖ Paraphrase Recognition:
morphological elements: ➢ Sentence paraphrase
➢ Phonemic pairs. e.g. (is he leaving? ➢ Dialogue paraphrase
VS is he living)

➢ Morphological pairs. e.g. (I missed
you VS I miss you)

➢ Stress pattern. e.g. (can VS can’t)
Designing Assessment Tasks: Responsive listening
❖ Appropriate response to a ❖ Open-ended response to a
question question (writing/
➢ Multiple choice questions speaking)
e.g. What is one example that the lecturer gives
of a product that women pay more for? e.g. Critical thinking (3pts)
A. Shampoo / conditioner Based on the listening, what does “pink
B. Shaving cream tax” mean? Why do you think it’s called
C. Razor blades “pink tax”?
Designing Assessment Tasks: Selective listening
❖ Listening Cloze (Fill in the blanks)
❖ Information Transfer (Chart filling)
Various University Spoken Registers
Designing Assessment Tasks: Extensive listening
❖ Top-down
❖ Improve listening fluency
Example: Listen to a TedTalk Video and write a listening Log.
Targeting particular constructs
(Buck, 2001, P. 133-136)
Assessing Listening for Learning (Vandergrift & Goh, 2012)
Learner checklists, teacher checklists,
Formative Assessment questionnaires, listening diaries, interviews
(think-loud, stimulated recall), portfolios,
dynamic listening assessment, quizzes

Summative Assessment Portfolios
Achievement tests
Proficiency tests
Large-scale standard tests

Choosing formative and summative assessment tool for L2 listening must consider
(Vandergrift & Goh,
2012, P. 257)
Assessment Task Demonstration

Video “Carol Dweck - A Study on Praise and Mindset” by Trevor Ragan (trainer,
coach, teacher of trainers)
TOFEL Listening
Selected response tasks: Tasks (Buck,
widely used in achievement tests and large scale standard test, easy to score

Limited response tasks: possible partial credit

e.g. Gap-filling tests are usually scored by counting the number of gaps that are
correctly filled, and using the sum as the total test score. In tests where test-taker has to
replace deleted words (listening recall tests), there are two ways of methods of
scoring: to score the item as correct only when the actual deleted word is replaced, or
to count any acceptable alternative (Buck, 2001)

Extended production tasks: criterion referenced, rubrics
Scoring extended production tasks: Examples

Critical thinking (3pts)
Based on the listening, what does “pink tax” mean? Why do you think it’s called “pink

1 pt logical response which is related directly to question ex: pink is for girls, pink tax
= higher cost for wom’ prod.

2pts support
Buck, G. (2001). Assessing listening. Cambridge University Press.

Cheng, L., Rogers, T., & Hu, H. (2004). ESL/EFL instructors’ classroom assessment practices: purposes, methods, and procedures.
Language Testing, 21(3), 360-389.

Kang, T., Arvizu, M. N. G., Chaipuapae, P., & Lesnov, R. O. (2016). Reviews of Academic English Listening Tests for Non-Native
Speakers. International Journal of Listening, 1-38.

Nation, I. S. P., & Newton, J. (2009). Teaching ESL/EFL listening and speaking. New York, NY: Routledge.

Ockey, G. (2012), Assessment of listening, from the EAL.

Root, T. L. (2007, Spring). Listening scoring guides. Retrieved May 10, 2007, from Valdosta State University, Department of Early
Childhood and Special Education, Dr. Tonja Root’s Web site:

Vandergrift, L., & Goh, C. (2012). Chapter 12: Assessing listening for learning (pp. 239-268). New York, NY: Routledge.