Of all organized educational activities, testing procedures are perhaps the most consequential for the learners. The project Testing Talk, funded by the Swedish Research Council between 2013 - 2016 [Reg. no. 2012–4129], we have examined interaction in and the assessment of second language oral proficiency tests, using the speaking part of the national test of English in 9th grade as our empirical case. What happens when two teenagers sit down to take the test, instructed by their teacher? Using conversation analysis, assessment data, surveys, teacher interviews and workshops, the Testing Talk project aimed to provide a timely overview of issues at the heart of performance and assessment of oral language. The Testing Talk website collects research activities and output from the project, which was formally finalized in December, 2016.
Between January, 2013, and December, 2016, the Swedish Research Council (Reg. no 2012-4129) funded the project "Testing Talk: Interactional organization and assessment practice in paired L2 oral proficiency tests". Our research has centered on interaction in the oral proficiency part of the national test of English (9th grade) in Sweden, and the assessment of oral proficiency and interaction. Testing Talk had three main areas of interest: (1) interaction in L2 speaking tests, (2) standardized testing and formal assessment of oral language proficiency, and (3) professional development for teachers regarding L2 oral proficiency testing and assessment. Data consists of audio-recorded, authentic high-stakes speaking tests (N=71), and participants were 161 students at four different schools and their teachers. In addition, we collected data from a national survey among English teachers, assessment data from the students' own teacher and two external, independent raters, and field observation data and evaluations from professional development workshops with teachers. A number of studies have been conducted and published (see links to Publications and Conference presentations for a full list), some of which are described below.