When it comes to the assessment of speaking, a clear dichotomy exists. On the one hand, what assessors are hoping to see is a genuine, typical speaking performance from the learner. On the other lies the fact that any real expectation that the performance will be authentic is, quite frankly, ridiculous. As Underhill (1987:45) notes, ‘our inherited attitudes to tests, and the way they are usually conducted, hold learners away from (assessors) at arms length.’ For this reason, familiarity with the test format is essential and should be one of the main caveats of the practice activities. Never the less, where do we draw the line between facilitating fair and reasonable test preparation and maintaining a premise of authenticity and unrehearsed performance?
I say “lucky” in particular, because I was actually accepted as a freshman at the end of ELAE. Nevertheless I was not feeling self confident enough to start an English medium university education and somehow I thought I would miss a lot if I skipped this experience at SL. So I made an official request to the administration, and thanks to their understanding of my wish to improve my second language prior to university courses, I was accepted as an upper level class student for one semester.