SPEAK Test Standards for Instructional Assignments
The following English language proficiency standards were established by the English Language Center in cooperation with Drexel University faculty and staff in May 1996. The SPEAK test is rated on a scale of 10-60 in increments of 5.
|TA Assignment ||Standard ||Proficiency Description |
|Grading/no office hours.
||Communication only somewhat effective. |
Substantial listener effort required.
|Grading with office hours.
||Communication more effective but listener effort still required. Linguistic weaknesses distracting. |
|Assignments with small group instructional contact; laboratory.
||Communication generally effective. Little listener effort required. Linguistic weaknesses slightly distracting. Expressions sometimes awkward. |
|Unrestricted assignments, including those requiring large group instructional contact: Recitations, classes.
||Communication almost always effective. Almost no listener effort required. |
SPEAK FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)
Do I need to take the SPEAK test?
If you are an international student who is interested in any level of teaching responsibility, you must legally qualify to become a teaching assistant.
What is the SPEAK test?
The Test of Spoken English (TSE) is administered by the Educational Testing Service (ETS) both in the U.S. and abroad. The SPEAK test is the same test used at universities to evaluate incoming international teaching assistants. The test consists of 12 short sections and takes 20 minutes. It is designed to evaluate your general language proficiency, so you will be asked questions about topics not necessarily related to your field of study. You will listen to a tape recording and answer the questions onto a tape. Then, two trained raters from the English Language Center (ELC) will listen to and evaluate the language on the tape.
How do I prepare?
More generally, it is useful to practice speaking at length about a variety of topics with different purposes. These include telling the story of a sequence of pictures, interpreting graphs, giving directions, saying your opinion on an issue in the news, and giving information to a group about a schedule. You can also pick up a sample test at the English Language Center.
How do I register for the SPEAK test?
You can call the English Language Center (ELC) at 215-895-2022 between 10:00-4:00 to make an appointment. The test is usually given twice a week in the afternoons between the first and tenth weeks of the term.
How do I get the results?
It takes one week to get results. You must ask your department for the English Language Proficiency Form and have your advisor or department chair sign it. Bring this with you when you come to take the test. You should call after one week to make sure it is ready. Then come to the ELC to receive the scores and completed score report form.
What do the scores mean?
There are minimum scores for different levels of responsibility in your department. Please see your advisor if you have any questions about the interpretation of the test scores. For more information, see SPEAK Test Handbook available at the ELC front desk.