Question: Is it possible to assess speaking in large classes?

Answer: Yes – if you plan!

It’s useful to give formative feedback on each learner’s speaking ability on a regular basis, so they know how to communicate more effectively. If you teach large, mixed-level classes, this can be difficult. However, it’s not impossible.

In every lesson try to include a speaking activity, even if it’s short. This could be a: 

  • dialogue
  • small group discussion
  • conversation
  • role play
  • class survey
  • group presentation.

You can monitor and assess different pairs or groups of learners each lesson. With presentations, you can monitor and assess during rehearsals too.  

Plan who to assess in each lesson.

  • Make a simple chart.
  • Record the date, lesson and activity.
  • Choose 2–4 learners to assess.
  • Write notes about them. 
  • Then you can give them some formative feedback and support.

Example chart:

Date Topic/Lesson Speaking activity Learners and comments
10 March Life skills: Problem solving Pair work: Discuss two solutions to each problem

Lillian: Confident, communicates well, mistakes with word order.

Lesogo: Not confident, needs time to think and plan what to say. Nice pronunciation.

Gift:Not confident, needs time to think and plan what to say. Nice pronunciation.

Which class will you try the chart with? 


Dialogue: A talk between two people.

Conversation: A talk between two or more people.

Formative feedback: Feedback which aims to support and help the learner, and which is not connected with an exam or test. 

Monitor: The way a teacher watches to see how well an individual, group or class is doing a particular task.

Rehearsal: The practice you do before sharing something in public.