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The patterns of student performance in the testing of the speaking skill in English language in secondary schools in Kenya

Author: 
Oriwo Sophia Atieno
Subject Area: 
Social Sciences and Humanities
Abstract: 

The study sought to investigate the use of written tests in examining the speaking skill in English language in secondary schools in Kenya. Based on the study, this paper presents and discusses findings on the nature of distribution of score patterns in the written and oral production test of the speaking skill in English language in secondary schools. The study was formulated and interpreted with reference to Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) approach whose tenets the Kenya Certificate of Secondary Education (KCSE) generally and the teaching and testing of the speaking skill specifically are intended to conform to. The study used correlation research design, which enabled the researcher to find out the scores attained from a written and an oral test of five sub-skills of the speaking skill and consequently assess the validity of written tests in examining the speaking competence of secondary school learners of English language. Purposive, stratified and simple random sampling procedures were used to select the twelve schools and 360 Form Four students who participated in the study. The research instruments used were two speaking achievement tests – one written and the other oral. Descriptive statistics such as mean, mode and standard deviation were used to compare the variables under study. The independent variable was speaking competence while the dependent variables were the speaking sub-skills tested. These were rendition of an oral narrative, word stress, intonation, contrastive stress and conversation. The study found out that students attained higher scores in the written test and that there was a high positive correlation between the scores of the two tests. These findings should guide the testing of the speaking skill. They should be significant to the Ministry of Education, Kenya National Examinations Council and teachers of English.

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