Frequently asked questions

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1 Frequently asked questions Controlled assessment speaking and writing GCSE French, German, Italian, Spanish and Urdu (autumn 2014 v1.1). Copyright 2014 AQA and its licensors. All rights reserved. AQA Education (AQA) is a registered charity (number ) and a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales (number ). Our registered address is AQA, Devas Street, Manchester M15 6EX.

2 This booklet must be read in conjunction with the relevant AQA GCSE specification and the AQA GCSE Controlled Assessment Handbook for Modern Foreign Languages Version 1.0, published in autumn Vertical black lines indicate a significant change or addition to the previous version of the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) published in autumn 2014 v1.0. Please make sure that you use this autumn 2014 version of the FAQs. Any subsequent changes to the FAQs will be published on our website and the version on the website will always be the most up to date version, although it may be different from printed versions. You can find further information about this and our other Languages qualifications at

3 Contents Section Pages Questions 1 Entry Requirements General Information Listening and Reading Speaking and Writing 6 Task Setting Stage Task Planning Forms Task Sheets Drafts Stage Assessment Speaking 14 Task Setting Bullet Points and Sub-divisions Unpredictable Bullet Points Stage Stage 3 (conduct, timing, assessment issues) Recording and Submission of Recordings Writing 21 Task Setting Length and Assessment Issues Stages 1 and Stage Assessment

4 1. Entry Requirements 1. What exams does AQA offer? All units are available in the summer series in French, German, Spanish, Italian and Urdu. No units are available in any other exam series. 2. Can students do a Short Course covering Listening and Reading only? No. Short Courses are either in Spoken Language (Listening and Speaking) or Written Language (Reading and Writing). These are available in all languages. 3. Can students resit the units? No. From summer 2013 students must take all units at the end of the course in a linear fashion and may take each unit only once before certification. This means that students who started a two-year course in Sept 2012 or Sept 2013 will have to take all units once only, at the end of their course. 4. Can students do all four units after one year of study and certificate in that same year? Yes. 5. Can a student retake one or more units after certification in order to get a better result in a second certification? No. Students will have to take the whole qualification again in order to get a better result. However, students can carry forward their results for either or both of the controlled assessment units. If they carry forward their result, the result for both pieces of work, ie the unit as a whole, will be carried forward. Students can only carry forward controlled assessment results from Short Course to Short Course or Full Course to Full Course. They cannot, for example, carry forward Unit 3 speaking results used in a Short Course one year for use in a Full Course the following year. 6. Can students do a short course in Year 10 then take the other two units in Year 11 and get a Full Course qualification? No. Students certificating for Full Course must take all four units in the series in which they certificate. 7. Can a student enter for a Short Course award and for the Full Course award in the same examination series, using the two units he/she takes for the Short Course award towards the award for Full Course also? Yes, students may enter both the Full Course and the Short Course and use the same unit results towards both qualifications. However, this applies only in the same exam series. See FAQ If a student takes all four units but would have an unclassified for the Full Course award will he/she automatically get a compensatory Short Course award if he/she has unit results for the award of Short Course? No. However such a student could make a late entry for the Short Course award after the publication of results. 9. What is the annual deadline for submitting Speaking marks to the moderator and Writing assessments to the examiner? 7 May. 10. Are students with a disability eligible for extra time at Stage 2 of the controlled assessment? This depends on individual circumstances. Please contact Access Arrangements on or Are students with a disability eligible for extra time for Stage 3 of the controlled assessment? Yes, students with a disability are eligible for extra time at Stage 3 as timing is not part of the assessment objectives. Please contact Access Arrangements on or Is this specification available to Private Candidates? This specification is available to private candidates under certain conditions. Because of the nature of the controlled assessment, students must be attending an AQA school/college which will supervise and assess the controlled 4

5 assessment. Private Candidates should refer to the Private Candidates pages of our website. 13. How should the Speaking and Writing be managed in cases where the parents are native speakers and want to tutor their children themselves? Teachers at the school/college entering the students must set, conduct and mark the Speaking and must set the Writing tasks and supervise Stage 3. Teachers at the school/college entering the students must tell the students that they must spend no more than 6 hours at Stage 2. The reason this must be done by the teachers at the school/college entering the students is that they must take responsibility for conducting and administering the tests in line with the specification. The rules on Task Planning Forms (TPFs) and drafts are exactly the same as for other students: they may take the TPF home but any draft must be produced in the school/college under the supervision of the teachers at the school/college entering the students. 2. General Information 14. Do teachers have to cover all four contexts and the purposes within each context? In the Listening and Reading tests, any aspect of any context as published in the specification can be tested. For Speaking and Writing, students have a choice. The two Speaking tasks may come from the same context/purpose or they may be drawn from two different contexts/purposes. They may come from the same context(s)/purpose(s) as the Writing tasks. The two Writing tasks may come from the same context/purpose or may be drawn from two different contexts/purposes. They may come from the same context(s)/purpose(s) as the Speaking tasks. However, the same task cannot be submitted for both Speaking and Writing. 15. How do I get hold of the Centre Declaration Sheets, Candidate Record Forms and Task Planning Forms (TPFs)? These are available to download from our website via the following links: Centre Declaration Sheets /centre-declaration-sheets Candidate Record Forms and Task Planning Forms (TPFs) Why can t AQA provide grade boundaries for the specimen papers? Grade boundaries are only available once students have taken a live examination. Grade boundaries are never available for untrialled specimen papers as these papers have not actually been taken by students and have not been through the necessary marking and awarding process to decide where the grade boundaries lie. This applies to all subjects and all levels. Grade boundaries for the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014 examinations are available on our website: 5

6 3. Listening and Reading 17. What changes are there to Listening and Reading compared to previous specifications? All questions and rubrics are in English. Responses are non-verbal or short answers in English. There are no questions requiring answers in the target language. 18. Can we mix and match tier of entry for Listening and Reading? Yes. Students may be entered for either Foundation or Higher in each of these two skills, eg Foundation Listening and Higher Reading. 19. Do teachers have to teach all of the vocabulary for Listening and Reading? The Listening and Reading assessment tasks at Foundation Tier will be based on the Foundation List and General Vocabulary List; students should also expect to encounter some unfamiliar vocabulary, but they will not be tested on it. At both tiers, students will be expected to understand words which have the same or very similar form and meaning in the languages as in the English. The Listening and Reading assessment tasks at Higher Tier will be based on the Foundation and Higher Lists and the General Vocabulary List; in addition students should also expect to encounter some unfamiliar vocabulary and may be tested on it provided that it can be accessed through the communication strategies published in the specification. 20. Can students have bilingual dictionaries in the Listening and Reading exams? No. Dictionaries are not permitted in Listening and Reading examinations. 21. Do students have to write answers in the target language in Listening and Reading exams? No. Responses are in English or nonverbal responses. 4. Speaking and Writing Task setting 22. Does AQA provide tasks for the Speaking and Writing? Yes. We provide some exemplar tasks. Teachers may use these as they stand, adapt them or devise their own tasks. These are regularly updated and can be found on our website in the Teaching and learning resources page for each language. 23. Can schools/colleges submit the exemplar tasks from the specification? Yes, but teachers would have to change the unpredictable element in Speaking as the tasks are in the public domain and students may have seen them. 24. How are new exemplar tasks published to schools/colleges? They are placed on our website for each language. 25. Does AQA help teachers to adapt the tasks? Yes. AQA Controlled Assessment Advisers are available for guidance. We also give examples of how exemplar tasks could be adapted. Details of your Controlled Assessment Adviser can be obtained from the Languages team on or at 26. Can teachers produce their own tasks? Yes. It is important that teachers devising their own tasks pay close attention to the assessment criteria to ensure that tasks allow students to achieve their potential. AQA Controlled Assessment Advisers are available for guidance. The task titles and 6

7 bullet points, for both Speaking and Writing, must be in English. 27. Do the Speaking and Writing tasks have to be based on the contexts in the specification? No. Students are free to submit work in Speaking and Writing which is not based on the contexts published in the specification. 28. Can some of the bullet points in a Speaking task be the same as those in a Writing task? It is not appropriate to use the same bullet points in Speaking and Writing tasks as this could lead to the same content being produced by students in response to a Speaking task and a Writing task. Task titles must be sufficiently different that students do not reproduce the same content across the two skill areas; bullet points should therefore also be different across Speaking and Writing tasks. 29. What is meant by different when changing task titles across Speaking and Writing tasks? The task titles must be sufficiently different that the task is not ultimately the same. Sometimes a task can be seen as different if just one word is changed eg A day in the life of a celebrity and A day in the life of a teenager would result in different content, so changing one word is sufficient, as the tasks are not eliciting the same response from the student. However, Talking about my holidays and Discussing my holidays would not be acceptable, as they refer in an identical way to holidays since talking about and discussing mean the same thing. Similarly, A conversation about my school and A blog about my school would not be acceptable, as the content would be the same, the only changes relating to the different requirements for a Speaking and a Writing task. The use of synonyms eg leisure and free time would also not be seen as enough to make two tasks different. The main consideration is that the tasks should not result in the same content. 30. I know that schools/colleges must change their tasks every two years. How do I change the Speaking and Writing tasks I have used for the last two years? To change Speaking tasks, at least one major bullet point must be different. To change Writing tasks, the task title must be different. Teachers must ensure that for each individual student the tasks in Speaking and Writing do not lead to duplication of content (see FAQ 29). 31. We want to change our tasks, as we have now used them for two years. Can we use tasks for Writing which we have previously used for Speaking? Yes. That would be fine. 32. Can a Writing or Speaking task used by a particular teacher be used by a different teacher in the school/college two years later? Yes, tasks can be circulated among teachers or language departments (eg French to Spanish) within a school/college. 33. Can students use the tasks published in the Nelson Thornes Student Book? As long as the teacher has changed one of the bullet points (Speaking) or the task title (Writing), students may access all of the guidance in the Nelson Thornes book or any other textbook during Stage 2. The fact that the bullet point or title has changed will be sufficient for the task to be regarded as a different task from the task in the textbook and it may therefore, be submitted to AQA. The textbook may suggest a phrase or sentence that students could use in their task, either for one of the bullet points in the task published in the book or for the bullet point the teacher has put in. However, this will be viewed in the same way as a phrase or sentence which the student has found during his/her research at Stage 2 in an exercise book, on the internet etc. Students can make full use of the Nelson Thornes textbook (or other textbook) in the same way as any other resources at Stage 2. The only constraint that AQA is putting on the use of Nelson Thornes textbooks or any other textbooks 7

8 is that the teacher must adapt the task by changing one main bullet point (Speaking) or the task title (Writing). 34. Can students use a model answer published in the Nelson Thornes resources or elsewhere and submit it as their own work? Where model answers are published, students should not reproduce any sections of continuous prose provided. This means that whilst students may select individual sentences from the model answers and insert them at appropriate points in their own response, it is not acceptable for the student to copy several consecutive sentences from the model answers into his/her own response. 35. Can a task have a visual stimulus? No. No visuals of any kind may be used on the task sheet. This includes a visual which has no language on it and is being used for cosmetic purposes. Each bullet point must be in English and cannot be replaced with a visual. 37. Could the following be used as a bullet point? Your experience of a typical day (past tense including food, drink, free time, education, work) No. The reference to a past tense makes it unacceptable. The following alternatives would be acceptable: A typical day in the past Describe how a typical day was spent (including food, drink, education, work, free time) 38. In the specification it says that differentiation is by outcome. Can it also be by task? Yes. It is a good idea to adapt a task for different ability levels or to set different tasks for different students. The exemplar tasks on our website in the Teaching and learning resources page for your language show how this can be done and your Controlled Assessment Adviser can also help you with this. 36. I want to remind students they have to use different tenses, opinions etc. Can I write the following at the end of the task? This task asks you to write in the past, present and future, to include opinions, and to present evidence to justify your opinions. No, you cannot include such a statement. It is too specific, as it tells students exactly what tenses to use throughout the task, rather than this being implicit in the individual bullets. The wording of the bullets should direct the students towards the various tenses (eg Describe how a typical day was spent; Where do you want to live in the future?) It would be possible, however, to include the following statement, as the guidance is general, rather than specific: This task asks you to write using a variety of tenses, to include opinions, and to present evidence to justify your opinions. Stage Do schools/colleges have to specify to AQA at what point they issued the task to students? No. 40. Can a teacher give students several tasks to choose from at the start of Stage 2? They could only be given several tasks if they then never use the tasks they decline at any point in the future. As they have 8

9 already had a chance to look at them, they cannot come back to them in future. 41. Is there a fixed time span between the point when students are given the task (ie the start of Stage 2) and the day when they carry out the final version of the task? No. Students should spend no more than 6 hours preparing the task at Stage 2 but there is no defined time period within which the 6 hours must fall. Schools/colleges can organise this in the way that best suits their particular circumstances. 42. How can teachers ensure that students do not exceed the 6 hours permitted at Stage 2? Teachers should tell their students at the start of Stage 2 that they can spend no more than 6 hours researching and preparing their task. There is nothing further that the teacher must do. 43. If several teachers are using the same task, what happens if one teaching group gets to Stage 2 before others, so that some students have the task and others do not yet have it? This could happen and it is not necessary for all teaching groups to be given the task at the same time (even if it is the same task). 44. What should a teacher do if a student is absent from school during the 6 hours preparation at Stage 2 of the task-taking? The teacher can make individual arrangements for students who are absent and who miss some or all of the preparation time. Each student could, in theory, have his/her own 6 hours preparation time. 45. What resources can students have at Stage 2? Students may use all materials prepared at Stage 1, together with reference materials such as course books, a dictionary and internet resources (but not translation software). 46. Can students work together at Stage 2? Yes, students can work together at Stage 2 in both Speaking and Writing but must each provide an individual response, and students cannot provide for each other extended pieces of language for a draft (see FAQ 75). 47. What materials can students take home at Stage 2? They can take home all materials prepared at Stage 1 and resources such as course books, together with the task sheet and Task Planning Form. 48. Can students prepare their Speaking and Writing tasks at home? Yes. The student can have up to 6 hours to prepare the task and carry out appropriate research. Some or all of this time can be spent outside the classroom. However, the 6 hours must include the time for the teacher to give feedback on the plan (if the student produces one) and time for the student to respond to that feedback. It is not compulsory to use the full 6 hours. See also FAQs 77, 124 and Can teachers let students see the mark scheme while they are preparing their task? Yes. In MFL there are criteria for assessment which apply to all tasks every year. Therefore they are not confidential and can be shown to students. They are provided in the specification. Task Planning Forms (TPFs) 50. What can students put on their TPF? Whole words only, in English or the target language, may be used. A maximum of 40 words may be used. There must be no 9

10 conjugated verbs. If students write a word like trabajo or danse and use it as a noun, it will be accepted; however if they use it as a verb it will be discounted (see FAQ 68). No drawings, photos, icons or visuals of any kind may be used. Students must not use phonetic transcriptions. Codes of any kind are not permitted eg. blank lines, initial letters, different colours and arrows to indicate time frames etc. The only exception to this is that a bullet point, or figures 1,2,3 etc (where the numbers refer directly to the bullet points on the task sheet) may be used. Examples of appropriately completed TPFs are available in the Teaching and learning resources pages for each language. 51. Can the Task Planning Form have English as well as target language words? Yes, for example students could write qui: who on their plan. This would count as two words out of the forty allowed. 52. Can students use a conjugated verb in English on their TPF? No. 53. Can students include a past participle without the auxiliary verb on their TPF? Yes, the past participle is permitted, provided there is no auxiliary verb. A phrase such as après avoir fait would be permitted as it contains no conjugated verb. 54. Can reflexive pronouns be used on the TPF? Yes. Examples such as nos pelear, casarme (Spanish) and avant de me lever (French) are acceptable. 55. On the TPF, could a student split a conjugated verb so that it counted as three words (eg J ir ai)? No. Conjugated verbs are not permitted and it is not acceptable to include them presented in this way. Moreover, whole words only are permissible. 56. Could students include among their 40 words on the TPF reminders of how to construct a tense or other grammatical reminders (eg future equals werden plus infinitive)? Yes, such reminders can be used on the TPF in either English or the target language provided they include no conjugated verbs; they count towards the 40 words. 57. Can students write in English on the TPF words that will remind them about grammar points eg weil verb end past participle at end? Yes, this is allowed provided that other rules regarding conjugated verbs are not broken. The English words would obviously count as some of the 40 words. 58. Can students leave a blank line on the TPF to represent a word they would say (eg je_au_)? No. See FAQ Can students use pictures as well as or instead of a plan in the Speaking and Writing? No. See FAQ Can students use different colours on their TPF? No. See FAQ Is it acceptable to highlight or underline words on the TPF? No. See FAQ Can students use phonetic transcriptions on their plan? No. See FAQ Can students take the TPF home? Yes. 64. Can the teacher correct the student s plan? No. It must be the student who marks up any amendments on the original plan. The teacher can only make comments on what the student has included in (or omitted from) their plan. The teacher cannot comment on the language of the plan or correct the plan. Any conjugated verb should be circled by the teacher and the appropriate box ticked. The student 10

11 must then obliterate it (not simply cross it out) and the teacher should check immediately before the assessment that the plan contains no unauthorised material. 65. How do students record changes to their plan in the light of feedback from the teacher? Students should amend their original TPF, obliterating any unauthorised material. Correcting fluid must not be used. which use words noted on the TPF beyond the first 40. Students should be reminded of this, as they could be severely disadvantaged if any of the words beyond the permissible 40 are used often in their task. It is important that teachers check the TPF before students are tested, to avoid such problems. 66. Can students write a new plan if they lose their plan? Yes, students can write a new plan irrespective of whether they lose it before or after the teacher has given feedback on it. 67. Can a student write out his/her plan again if it becomes very unclear due to, for example, lots of obliterated words? Yes. 68. What happens if a student doesn t cross out a conjugated verb, or doesn t obliterate it, so it can still be seen? In Writing, examiners will ignore all clauses where that verb is used when awarding a mark for Range of Language and Accuracy. If the sentence (with the conjugated verb discounted) still communicates, then it may be counted towards the mark for Content. In Speaking, moderators will ignore all utterances where that verb has been used, when awarding a mark. Students should be reminded of this, as they could be severely disadvantaged if the conjugated verb appears often in their task. It is important that teachers check the plan before students are tested, so that all conjugated verbs can be deleted. 69. What happens if students use more than 40 words in their plan? In both Speaking and Writing, if more than 40 words have been used, examiners/moderators will ignore when awarding a mark the parts of the student s response (ie the phrases or clauses) Task Sheets 70. Can students make notes on the task sheet itself? No. Students have access to the task sheet at Stage 3 when they produce the final version. If they made notes on the task sheet they would have access to more than the 40 words permitted on the TPF. It is on the TPF that any notes must be made. 71. Can students take the task sheet home? Yes. Drafts 72. What is the definition of a draft (as compared to notes or a plan?) A draft is a fully scripted version of what students will say (Speaking) or write (Writing) in response to the task or, for Speaking, a practice recording. 11

12 73. Can students use resources (internet, books etc) when producing a draft in the lesson? Yes, they can have access to resources to help them to produce the draft. Translation software is not permitted. 74. Can students work on a draft in more than one lesson? Yes, provided that it is collected in and stored securely between lessons. 75. Can students work together whilst producing a draft in the lesson? The point of producing the draft under direct supervision is to be sure that it is the student s own work. One student can find out from another an individual item of vocabulary just as they could look it up in a dictionary, but one student cannot provide another with extended pieces of language such as several sentences for a draft for the task. 76. Can students work on a draft in a lesson and then take it home to add a bit more? No. All drafts (even if partially completed) must be kept securely in school. 77. Can students write out a section of their task (eg their response to one bullet point) at home? Yes. However, students must not then bring that piece of writing into school. Any part of the draft which is written in school must be kept in school. 78. Can students bring notes from home into school after they have done some research? Yes. Notes should contain no conjugated verbs or sections of text which the student could transfer directly into their draft. 79. In terms of bringing materials into school, some previous AQA documents have used classroom rather than school. Is there a difference? No. The basic rule is that anything written at home, other than notes must be kept at home. Obviously, any part of the draft written in school (ie in the classroom, under direct supervision) must be kept securely by the teacher. 80. Will students who have written a draft at home be allowed to bring it into school on the day of the test at Stage 3, just to revise on the day? No. This is because AQA cannot be sure that the work is the students own, unaided work. 81. When can the teacher give the draft back to the student? Only when Stage 3 has been completed and the final version of the task has been handed in to the teacher. 82. Can I correct a draft, when my students have completed the task, and return to them, so they can improve next time? No. Drafts (and indeed a photocopy of a student s response to a Writing task) can certainly be returned to students, but these drafts cannot have any teacher feedback on them. Drafts are a direct response to a task (issued at Stage 2) and so cannot be not be seen as general teaching and learning materials (Stage 1). The only feedback which can be given must be general, not specific. It must be oral, not written. It must be in English and it must relate to the assessment criteria eg make sure you express at least 2 opinions ; vary your structures and vocabulary more ; check your tense formations. Stage Is it necessary to remove posters/wall charts/verbs tables etc from the walls when Stage 3 of Speaking and Writing tasks are being carried out? Yes. Any additional, unauthorised resources must be removed when students produce the final version of the tasks. 84. Is it necessary to list resources on the Candidate Record Form? No, this is not necessary as the resources are not used at Stage 3 when the final version is produced. 12

13 85. Can a student do the same task again in Speaking or Writing if they are unhappy with what they have done? No. After completing Stage 3, a student cannot make another attempt at a task. They must do a different task. For Speaking this means that at least one bullet point must be different. For Writing, it means the task title must be different. Assessment 86. Does the number of bullet points covered relate to the mark awarded for Communication/Content? There is no direct correlation as the number of bullet points varies across different tasks. However, in Speaking the Communication mark will be affected if the student has not addressed all the bullet points in the task. In Writing, the content mark will not automatically be affected if the student has not addressed all the bullet points. 87. Is it possible to quantify the number of pieces of information required for a particular mark band in Communication (Speaking) and Content (Writing)? No. There is no numerical equivalence between the number of pieces of information and a particular mark band. Any examples of the number of pieces of information quoted in commentaries on marked exemplar work are intended as no more than a very general guide and as only one factor to be taken into account, when awarding marks. In Speaking, what is key is the quality of the response, ie the development and extent of the response. In general, students must give information in longer extracts of language to score in the higher bands for Communication. If students speak at a reasonable pace and develop their answers, within the time limit, they are likely to give a lot of information (unless they repeat themselves). Conversely, the shorter the time of the student s contribution (eg the students is giving short answers to lots of questions from the teacher) the lower the mark is likely to be for Communication. In Writing, again the detail and the extent to which students communicate clearly are of great importance in determining marks for Content, and also the extent to which they explain ideas and points of view. Given the reference to clarity of communication required for the top three bands, it is possible that a student who makes fewer points but conveys them clearly could score more highly than a student who writes more but only manages to convey some of his/her points clearly and effectively. However, although the quality of the work is more important than the quantity, the word guidance in the specification should not be overlooked. In general, the shorter the student s response, the more difficult it becomes to score marks in the higher bands for Content. 88. Are opinions and verb tenses needed for Grade C? There is a requirement to understand and to express points of view. Students must use a variety of structures and may include different time frames and reference to past and future events. (See published grade descriptions in the specifications). 89. Can students have access to the top mark bands if they do not cover all three time frames across the two tasks? Yes. It should be noted, however, that the Grade Descriptors and AQA assessment criteria now refer to tenses rather than time frames. Work may be eligible for the top mark band for Range of Language (Writing) or for the top two mark bands for Range and Accuracy of Language 13

14 (Speaking), provided each piece of work includes the successful use of two tenses, even though three time frames are not covered. Each piece of work must, however, include the successful use of two tenses to be considered for these upper bands. 90. What counts as a future tense? In French and Spanish the immediate future (eg je vais aller en ville; voy a ir al cine) counts as a future tense; however the present tense with a future time marker (eg Nächste Woche fahre ich...; este fin de semana voy al cine) does not. 91. Would a construction using the present tense of a verb to refer to the past count as a separate tense from the present (eg je joue du piano depuis 2 ans; ich spiele Klavier seit 2 Jahren)? No, these constructions count as the present tense. 92. Would the present subjunctive count as a separate tense from the present tense? No. 93. What is the difference between an idea and a point of view? The Speaking assessment criteria refer to expressing ideas and points of view and the Writing criteria to expressing and explaining ideas and points of view. Ideas and points of view are one single concept and no distinction is made between ideas and points of view. 96. Do the Speaking tasks have to be totally different every two years or can teachers just amend them slightly? It would be sufficient to adapt the task, changing at least one of the main bullet points. It is not necessary to change the task title. Teachers should ensure that for each individual student the tasks avoid duplication of the content of their Writing tasks (see FAQ 29). 97. In order to change a Speaking task, is it sufficient to change the unpredictable bullet point? No, one of the main bullet points must be changed, together with a different unpredictable question. 98. If a completed Speaking controlled assessment task is not being submitted and the student needs to do a different task, how different does the new task need to be? At least one main bullet point must be changed. A different unpredictable question must also be asked. 99. Can teachers use the same Speaking task with a number of students? Yes, but they must use different unpredictable questions so that the unpredictable question is not known to any students before they carry out the task. 5. Speaking Task Setting 94. Do students have to do two different types of task for Speaking? No. The only requirement is that both tasks are in the form of a dialogue. 95. How different must the two Speaking tasks be from each other? At least one main bullet point must be different. Bullet Points / Sub-divisions 100. Is there a minimum number of bullet points for Speaking tests? The number of bullet points is not prescribed but three is the recommended minimum and less able students may need more bullet points to guide them. 14

15 101. Are all the bullet points compulsory in Speaking tasks? Yes, the teacher should ensure that each student attempts all the bullet points in the task he/she has been given What is the penalty for a student who misses out a bullet point in Speaking? Please refer to the sliding scale published in the GCSE Controlled Assessment Handbook If a student misses a bullet point and answers the bullet point after the one the teacher has asked, can the teacher go back and ask the missed bullet point? Yes. However, if when the 6 minute limit is reached any bullet point has not been answered, the teacher should apply the sliding scale in the Controlled Assessment Handbook In Speaking tasks with sub-divided bullet points, do the students have all the sub-divisions on their task sheet? Yes, on the task sheet they do, but not necessarily on the Task Planning Form (TPF) In Speaking tasks with sub-divided bullet points, are the sub-divisions prescriptive? No, only the main bullet points need to be covered. If students miss out subdivisions, this will not automatically affect their mark Are students penalised if they are given sub-divided bullet points in a Speaking task? No. The idea of sub-divisions is to provide more support and guidance for less able students but if more able students use them, they will not be penalised provided that they develop their responses and meet the requirements for higher mark bands If the Speaking task has sub-divided bullet points as additional guidance and structure for less able students, will students still be able to access the highest marks? Students will not be automatically penalised for having the added support of sub-divisions Can students prepare and record answers to, for example, 30 questions from the topic area, some of which will appear as bullet points in a Speaking task, including the unpredictable ones? Yes, at Stage 1 this can be done because the students do not know what will come up in the task. This cannot be done at Stage 2, once the students have seen the task. Unpredictable bullet points 109. How many different unpredictable bullet points should be prepared for each Speaking task? It depends on the number of students to be tested but the recommended number is What makes a good unpredictable bullet point? One which students will easily understand (possibly using cognates) and one they should be able to answer in the form of a sentence. In order to accomplish the unpredictable task, the answer must include a verb. This could be an appropriate use of eg, an infinitive or a present participle eg, Why do you have a part-time job? To earn money Can the unpredictable element be practised in advance? The unpredictable element may be included in the general teaching and learning of the topic at Stage 1. However, students must not be made aware that this will come up in a task Can what is the unpredictable bullet point for one student be a known bullet point for another student? Yes. 15

16 113. For the unpredictable task, could the teacher ask students a question which offered a choice between two things eg Would you prefer to travel by plane or by ship? Do you prefer to stay in a hotel or on a campsite? This is fine provided students include a verb in their response eg I prefer... If the student does not use a verb in their response eg by ship, the teacher must ask Why?, in order to elicit a verb Can a teacher repeat or rephrase the unpredictable bullet point in a Speaking task? Yes, if the student does not respond, or requests clarification/repetition eg Please repeat or I don t understand in the Target Language. If the student says I don t know in English, in the target language or any other language, the teacher cannot repeat or rephrase. Please see the Controlled Assessment Handbook for amplification of these points If a student can t answer the unpredictable bullet point, can the teacher ask another? No, if a student has not answered the unpredictable bullet point, it is not acceptable to ask a different unpredictable bullet point (ie one which elicits different information) Can a student give a very brief answer to the unpredictable bullet and still get the highest marks? No. Teachers should ensure that the unpredictable bullet should elicit more than a one-word answer and should follow up the student s initial answer if necessary. A simple answer, which includes a verb, would be sufficient in response to the unpredictable bullet and would allow students to access the highest marks provided they had fully developed answers to the main bullet points. The teacher needs to ask either an open question or a closed question with a follow-up question In Stage 3 of a Speaking task, is it acceptable for the teacher to alert the student to the unpredictable bullet by saying, for example, Pour terminer, la dernière question. Yes, it would be good practice to introduce the unpredictable bullet in this way. Stage How much help can the teacher give in the Speaking tasks? When the students have been given the Speaking task, the teacher should discuss the task with them, including the kind of language they might need and how to use their preparatory work. They may prepare a plan, using the Task Planning Form (TPF). Teachers may comment on the plan produced by the student, using the appropriate section at the bottom of the TPF. Any feedback must be restricted to the extent to which students are meeting the requirements of the task, and can be given only via the TPF. The teacher cannot give any help with the target language once students have been given the task Is a plan compulsory for Speaking tasks? No, a plan is optional but if a plan is produced it must be on a TPF Can the teacher help with the plan in the Speaking tasks? The plan must be prepared by the student but the teacher can comment on it by using the appropriate section of the TPF. Any feedback must be restricted to the extent to which the student is meeting the requirements of the task. Eg, teachers could not add comments relating to language on the plan eg add a past 16

17 tense. However, they could comment that the bullet point targeting a past event had not been covered. Any conjugated verbs should be identified to students with a circle and the appropriate box ticked Does the plan have to be submitted for the Speaking? Yes, the TPF must be submitted with the final version Can students use a dictionary for the Speaking tasks? While preparing a Speaking task, students may use a dictionary and they may use other reference material such as course books and internet resources. They may also use all materials prepared at Stage 1. However, when performing the task at Stage 3 students must not have access to a dictionary or any other resource except their TPF and the task itself Can the teacher and/or Foreign Language Assistant practise a task with the student? No. The teacher and/or Foreign Language Assistant can practise related material before the student is given the task. After the student is given the task, the teacher and/or Foreign Language Assistant can only ask the bullet points in English and cannot give any feedback to the student on the content, pronunciation or language of what they say Can students produce a practice recording of the task? Yes, students can produce an unlimited number of practice versions. However, these are for the student s use only and no one (eg teacher, FLA, parent) may make any comment on any drafts or practice recordings, either orally or in writing. Practice recordings or drafts must be produced in class, under the teacher s supervision. Students may wish to practise with another student to check timings, for example How long should a practice recording last? Since the whole task should last 4 6 minutes, it would be good practice to advise students to prepare 4 4½ minutes worth of material overall for each task. This then allows time for the teacher s prompts and questions without the task exceeding the 6 minute maximum Does the practice recording have to be submitted for the Speaking? No. It is not necessary to submit practice recordings for the Speaking to AQA. Stage 3 (conduct; timing; assessment issues) 127. When should the Speaking task be carried out? They may be done at any time. However, schools/colleges may designate a particular period if they wish How many times a year can Speaking marks be submitted for moderation? Once a year, in May (deadline 7 May). However, assessments can be carried out at any time What if a student is absent when other students in the group record the final versions of their Speaking task? There must be a recording for each student. Arrangements must be made to record that student s task at another time. It will not be acceptable to state that the student was absent when the other students recorded their final versions Can students use notes in the Speaking tasks? Students may have their Task Planning Form (TPF) containing their teacher s feedback, and the task itself. It is recommended that the plan is produced in the target language, though it can be in English. The plan must be in note form and must have no more than 40 words for each task. Notes must not include conjugated verbs. The plan must be prepared individually by the student. It may be produced outside the classroom. Students may prepare only one plan per task. However, see also FAQs 66 and Can the teacher ask extra questions in the Speaking tasks? The teacher can and should ask follow-up questions if the student has not fully 17

18 addressed the bullet point. The teacher should do this before moving to the next bullet point Can a Foreign Language Assistant (FLA) conduct the task while the teacher assesses it? Yes, provided the FLA has been appropriately trained Can Speaking tasks be pre-recorded for students to answer all at the same time in a language lab? No. If a student didn t fully develop a bullet point, he/she would be denied the opportunity for follow-up questions to be asked. The student could pause the recording without the teacher s knowledge and pausing the recording is not permitted In Stage 3 of a Speaking task (ie the final version), is it possible to stop/pause the recording during the task? No. The task must be recorded without stopping/pausing the recording during the task In Stage 3 of a Speaking task (ie the final version), could the teacher have a copy of the student s draft (if he/she produced a full script) or of the student s plan? Yes, the teacher may have a copy of the student s draft or plan in front of him/her when carrying out the task provided that the student cannot see the draft Can the interlocutor in the dialogue be another student in the Speaking tasks? Yes. However, the teacher must ensure that each student submits an individual response for assessment. The interlocutor would need to be fully briefed on the requirements of the task If the interlocutor in the dialogue is another student, can the assessment evidence be used to generate a mark for both students? Yes, provided that the discussion lasted long enough to allow each student s input to be the same as in a 4-6 minute discussion with a teacher If schools/colleges do a group discussion as a Speaking task, how should they record it? If two or more students are involved in a discussion and the school/college chooses to record this task for the moderator, the school/college must submit a DVD (sound and pictures), with each student involved clearly identified by a card with their name in front of them. The parent or carer of each student must give permission for the DVD to be recorded If schools/colleges do a group discussion, how long must the task last? If the group discussion is being used to generate a mark for each student, the discussion must be long enough to allow each student s input to be the same as in a 4-6 minute discussion with one interlocutor When does the timing of the task begin? When the teacher/interlocutor asks the first bullet point in the task Could students get full marks with a shorter (eg 3 minutes) Speaking task? The minimum length is 4 minutes. If the task is shorter it will be self-penalising If a very able student talks just short of the 4 minute minimum will his/her marks automatically be affected? Yes. If, for example, a native speaker does a very good task in 3 minutes 55 seconds, he/she will be able to get 29 out of 30. However, in order to gain full marks for Communication, the 4 minute minimum must be met Will moderators re-mark the whole Speaking task if it is longer than 6 minutes? No. Moderators will stop marking when the student has finished what he/she is in the middle of saying at the point when 6 minutes is reached. If the teacher is in the middle of an utterance, the recording will be stopped at 6 minutes. 18

19 144. Must the teacher ask extra questions for the student to gain the highest marks for Communication? No. If the student develops fully his/her answers to each bullet point there will be no need for extra questions to allow the student access to the highest marks for Communication Can students get a high mark in a Speaking task even if there is little interaction with the teacher? Yes. Interaction and fluency are a global concept. Students can have access to full marks with minimal teacher input as long as they have provided full and developed responses. This is still true even if there is little interaction with the teacher In Speaking, if a student answers a bullet point eliciting reference to future events by using a present tense verb, will he/she be penalised under Communication? No, not if the response successfully communicates what the bullet point required. However, if aiming for a high mark for Range and Accuracy, the student must make sure he/she uses at least two different tenses over the task as a whole Who marks the Speaking tasks? The teacher marks the Speaking tasks What support is available from AQA to help teachers mark the Speaking? Our Controlled Assessment Advisers are available for guidance. There are no faceto-face teacher standardisation meetings. Standardisation is via teacher online standardisation, which is available on our website. Teacher online standardisation is a web-based system available at anytime and anywhere with an internet connection. It has a selection of speaking tasks and teachers will be able to mark them and check their marks against the correct marks awarded and to read the accompanying commentaries and other supporting documentation. This means that all teachers of eg German within a department will be able to mark the tasks, either together or independently, and to discuss those marks without having to take time out of school. To use the system teachers log on to e-aqa (Examinations Officers have access to e- AQA) and select teacher online standardisation from the list of teacher services and choose eg German. For more information please see Recordings / Submission of Recordings 149. Do both Speaking tasks need to be recorded? No. One of the two tasks must be recorded for each student If the speaking task has not recorded properly, are we allowed to re-record the same task or do we have to do a different task? If you have assessed the task at the same time as you have conducted it, you could submit these marks for the unrecorded task and then record a different task. If you have not assessed it, you are permitted to re-record the same task, but you must use a different unpredictable bullet point How should recordings of the Speaking assessments be submitted? Schools/colleges can send recordings on audio CD, data CD or memory stick. Please note that cassette tapes are no longer accepted. Schools/colleges must use a separate CD/memory stick for each language. Schools/colleges should follow the instructions overleaf. 19

20 Audio CDs with a card insert for each CD containing the following information: - the track number and name/number of each student on the CD (eg. Track Michael Stripe) - component code (eg 46553) - centre number - teacher-examiner s name In addition, the centre number and component code should be written on the CD with an indelible pen. Do not use a sticky label. Data CDs with a card insert for each CD containing the following information: - the number and name of each student on the CD - component code (eg 46553) - centre number - teacher-examiner s name Individual student recordings should be saved as.mp3 files. The file name must contain the component code, centre number and candidate number (eg _55217_0041_mp3.) In addition, the centre number and component code should be written on the CD with an indelible pen. Do not use a sticky label. Memory Sticks with the following information securely attached to the memory stick on a tag: - the number and name of each student on the memory stick - component code (eg 46553) - centre number - teacher-examiner s name Individual student recordings should be saved as.mp3 files. The file name must contain the component code, centre number and candidate number (eg _55217_0041_mp3.) 152. Do AQA-recommend software for recording Speaking assessments? Schools/colleges may like to consider using digital voice recorders which are now available at approximately They are the size of a mobile phone, automatically record in mp3 format, produce very clear recordings and do not need an external microphone. Schools/colleges must ensure that they check all recordings have been saved as mp3 files before despatching them for moderation Can schools/colleges mix and match various media for one language eg, could Spanish be recorded on memory sticks for one teaching group and CDs for another? Yes, that approach is acceptable. What schools/colleges must not do is record two languages on the same CD or memory stick For Speaking, can a school/college record 3 or 4 tasks for a particular student and send the recordings of all of them to AQA, together with the marks for two of them? If a school/college chooses to record more than one task the task title must be clearly announced at the start of each task so that the moderator can easily find the task which the school/college has identified on the Candidate Record Form as the recorded task After my students have completed the recorded task and I have assessed the tasks, can I then make recordings of individual students responses onto their own memory sticks (so I can give feedback and they can improve)? You can record the students performance onto a memory stick and give it to the students but any feedback must be general, not specific. It must be oral, not written. It must be in English and must relate to the assessment criteria eg make sure you express at least 2 opinions ; vary your structures and vocabulary more ; check your tense formations Will schools/colleges get the recordings of their Speaking tasks back? Yes. CDs and memory sticks will be returned to schools/colleges. 20

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