Speaking skills are core business.
For many businesses, effective speaking makes as much, if not a more, significant contribution to how well an employee operates in the workplace as reading and writing. For example, a security guard needs to be able to understand their site operating procedures and report any observations accurately and objectively in their logbook. However, their ability to give a timely, accurate update to their control room on the radio or create a professional impression on a manager at the client’s site is just as valuable. A healthcare worker needs to be able to update a client’s care plan. However, their ability to deliver quality care will depend to a large extent on their interaction skills and the way they are able to build the care relationship.
We need to be able to measure speaking skills efficiently and accurately and use these assessments to show gain.
In terms of how we test speaking, basically we aim to make the test engaging for the employee so that they produce a sufficient sample of language and push their speaking skills. It’s critical that they are engaged and see the relevance of the test to them to help engage them in any future skills development.
Relevant but generic.
Unless we are delivering a very narrow course (e.g. one focused on a very specific skill in the workplace), the test needs to be generic enough to give good information about how the employee communicates in a general sense – i.e. what their interaction skills are like; whether they are effective at checking information when listening. We tend to start by asking the employee about their work, maybe their past and maybe their hopes for the future. From there, it will depend very much on the type of business we’re working with and what we have found through needs analysis …