20. A sales talk


Task details

 

Task details

Name of oral assessment task A sales talk
EAL curriculum level range  B3, C2, C3, C4
Text orientation Persuasive
Task type Oral presentation

 


Task specification

 

Task specification

Purpose To assess students’ ability to describe a product in a way that makes it sound attractive and desirable, so that audience members want to buy the product.
Description Students are given details of a product and present it to a group of potential customers in a way that will tempt the audience to buy the product.
Assumed knowledge and description
  1. Content knowledge: Advertising strategies are used to make products seem desirable, for example, brand/celebrity/lifestyle/factual/emotive/personal image appeal; the importance of memorable words and phrases, including use of alliteration.
  2. Text type, genre: a sales talk, presenting a product to make it sound desirable
  3. Linguistic structures and features: 
  • Fluency, use of emphasis to create a sense of confidence and assuredness in speaking.
  • Using language that evokes positive feelings and reactions.
  • The language of advertising, for example: use of imperatives: Get one now! Go down to your local store today!; use of superlative adjectives: Made with the silkiest material; use of rhetorical questions: Feeling tired? Lacking energy?; use of alliteration: soft, smooth and shiny, sweet and simple; use of rhyme: A Mars a day helps you work rest and play!

4. Vocabulary: Comparative and superlative adjectives; use of multiple adjectives; use of adverbs to emphasise the nature or quality of an action, for example, ‘Just wipe the outside of the fan!’ to show it is simple.

 


Learning/teaching context

 

Learning/teaching context

Language centre/mainstream class Mainstream class – EAL Support
Subject/key curriculum objectives, outcomes  English, consumer education
Topic/teaching unit Advertising
Assessment conditions
  1. Individual activity
  2. Formal/informal: formal, planned speech
  3. Time limit: 3 to 5 minutes, for presentation; 3 minutes for questions from the audience
  4. Teacher intervention:  silent encouragement
  5. Access to resources: Students may have access to product information notes.
  6. Scaffolding (modelled/guided/independent support): guided
  7. Accommodations: Students could have pictures of the products they are attempting to sell.  Members of groups could pitch for competing products, or unrelated products.
Notes
  • Pre-assessment activities can be extended or reduced as appropriate for the learners.
  • The presentation may be audio recorded for more careful analysis and assessment of individual students after the performance.  This may enable focuses assessment and feedback for each student.
  • May be used in conjunction with Writing Task 14.

 


Task implementation

 

Task implementation

STAGE ACTION STEPS
Pre-assessment activity
  • Revise the language of advertising in relation to models analysed and possibly reconstructed in earlier lessons: View a video of a TV advertisement in which product is described and promoted and discuss students’ reactions to the video; Students discuss and revise how the product is made to seem attractive and desirable, and the language used in doing this
  • Students are given a product or a picture of a product Click to view possible product materials
  • Students are told they have 3 to 5 minutes to give a sales talk about their product to a small group of their peers.
  • Distribute the framework for notes.
  • Click to view framework for notes:
  • Allow students 10 minutes to complete their notes for the task.
  • Ask students to get into pairs and students do a practice presentation to a partner
  • Allocate small groups of 4 or 5
  • Click to view the pre-assessment task materials for this assessment:
Assessment activity
Post-assessment activity
  • Have a group Q and A session following the sales talk.  The presenting group must continue to make their product as desirable as possible
  • The audience could fill in ‘survey’ saying which product (of the presentations they have heard) they would buy and how the sales talk made them choose that product
  • Students make a written advertisement for the products (see Writing Task 14)
  • Students make a TV video ad for the product

 

 


Assessment criteria

Annotations and commentary

Purpose and value of task

The sales talk task is a very specialised persuasive text, common in out-of-school contexts, intended to convince an audience to buy something. It is familiar to students and is relatively simple when related to familiar products. It therefore provides a context where EAL students can role-play a familiar persuasive text type, without having to reveal their own ideas or opinions. In this sense it is a useful task to assess their skills in spoken persuasive language. If students are worried about presenting to a large group, they can make their presentation to a partner or the teacher. This task is related to the TEAL Writing Task 14: Writing an advertisement.

Contextual information

The students in these videos were prepared for this task by discussing the nature of the task, and did some class work to get them ready to complete the task. They were given the product information the day before they were to complete the task, and given an opportunity to choose a product to sell, use the information provided about it and make notes (see the task sheet). They were encouraged to write words and short expressions they could use, to help their memory, rather than writing extended sentences.

The students were asked to present their brief sales talk to a small group of their peers. The students heard the presentations of their peers. Some students at earlier Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL levels presented individually, while others presented in pairs. The students who presented in pairs were asked to explain why their product was better than their partner’s, after the presented what they had prepared. Although this varied the task as completed by the other students, this also elicited spontaneous language use that involved the students using the language of the task in ways that took these students beyond their prepared presentations. Such additions to standardised assessment tasks have potential to expand assessment information of use to teachers.

Commentary

All these Year 10 students showed awareness of the sales genre, although there were varied lengths and degrees of complexity and sophistication in their performances. To some extent the students’ personalities and prior experiences influenced their performances, but knowledge of English, and control over it, also influenced the levels of their performances.

The students enjoyed presenting their talks, and even quieter students were engaged and animated. The students at the higher levels were able to sustain quite long presentations, elaborating on their ideas and striving to convince their audience, even though they were often quite repetitive in their ideas. More confident students readily took to the task, and improvised, demonstrating their awareness of sales techniques and strategies, and laughing at themselves when they made mistakes. Even less proficient students improvised and used formulaic sales expressions, such as ‘Buy one and get one free!’

While different levels of performance are evident in the five videos, the samples at the lower level illustrate one of the difficulties of assessing spoken language: A more fluent speaker, using a wider range of words, can seem more proficient overall than a less fluent speaker with a narrower range of vocabulary. This is the case on an initial viewing of Samples 1 and 2, where Sample 2 seems more proficient in many respects than Sample 1 for these reasons. However, a more focused observation of the samples reveals that the grammatical structures used by the speaker in Sample 2 are actually much less developed than the speaker in Sample 1. He matches criteria at a lower level for grammatical structures than other dimensions, while other aspects of his performance are captured by the criteria at level 2. In some ways Sample 3 is more controlled, and despite some obvious structural errors seems more correct than Samples 4 and 5. However, it covers a narrower range of meanings than samples 4 and 5, where the students  express a wider range of meanings. In doing they so they use a wider range of structures, but they are not always accurate in the way they use them. Sometimes EAL students can appear more on control of the language when they confine themselves to a narrower range of meanings, and may produce more errors as they are more ambitious in their communication.

Similarly, while both Samples 4 and 5 are more accomplished on many dimensions than the other speakers, their use of comparatives such as more powerful, cheaper than, is actually not as strong as some of the speakers performing at lower levels overall, and they do not match the highest set of criteria in this particular linguistic structure. In fact they rarely use this structure, which is a very useful structure in making comparisons and useful for the demands of the sales talk text type.


Sample 1

Biographical information

Year level: Year 10

Home language: Karen

 

Commentary

This talk is quite short, and contains some essential elements of the task. The student is intelligible, but not especially fluent in completing the task. She describes some attributes of her fan, and makes a short appeal to her audience to buy the fan. She uses basic grammatical SVO structures, and a basic comparative structure, albeit incorrectly, more cheater than. She falls back on the phrase – It’s good, when she is not sure what else to say. She uses past tense forms of verbs inappropriately for the context. She is is not very fluent with some of the words on the task sheet that describe technical aspects of the fan, such as watts, and she struggles to say them clearly. Her pronunciation is generally intelligible, but the listener has to listen carefully, and may not understand her pronunciation of louder, which sounds more like ‘low-der’.

The marked criteria sheet for sample 1 shows that criteria at level 1 of performance of the task describe most aspects of her performance of the task. However, despite her use of past tense, her subject-verb-object structures match one level 2 description for Structures and features.

The language use of this student is consistent with the descriptions of Level C2, or C2.1, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Oral Task 20 – Criteria sheet – Sample 1


Sample 2 

Biographical information

Year level: Year 10

Home language: Farsi (Persian)

Commentary

This student exhibits considerable self-confidence in his performance of the task, despite some weaknesses in his control of English. He speaks quite fluently and uses some formulaic sales-appropriate language  –Buy one, get one free! Two year warranty, although there are notable weaknesses in his grammatical structures. He often omits the subjects in his statements – is airflow good, is a fifty per cent off. He seems to be speaking in a series of formulaic phrases, which may well be the words he has written on his notes. His pronunciation is intelligible, despite some errors of pronunciation of some words – elegant, and incorrect stress on 50 per cent. These pronunciation errors are not a significant problem for the listener.

The marked criteria sheet for sample 2 indicates that while most of his performance of the task is described by level 2 criteria, his level of basic grammatical structures is described by the statements at level 1 in Structures and features.

The language use of this student in this task is consistent with the descriptions of learners at Level C2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.   

TEAL Oral Task 20 – Criteria sheet – Sample 2


Sample 3 

Biographical information

Year level: Year 10

Home language: Swahili

Commentary

This student exhibits more self-confidence and has much more control over many features of English. There are more messages in this presentation, a statement of the purpose of the product, details of features of the product, statements on how it compares with alternative products, a rhetorical question about why the audience should buy the product, and some additional information on the portability of the product. However, there are some noticeable grammatical errors in her presentation, sell to you a fan, it has a very safety cage, it costs less power consumption. Her pronunciation is clear (despite occasional errors such as ‘fortable (for ‘portable’) fan’, and varied intonation and stress are used to add interest and give emphasis.

The information she presents is quite repetitive, but as she settles into the talk she becomes more fluent, relaxed and more spontaneous, offering a wide range of persuasive arguments about why her fan is the best.

The marked criteria sheet for sample 3 indicates that the descriptions at level 3 of performance of the task best describe the elements of this performance of the task. In some respects, this is a more controlled talk than Samples 4 and 5, with less pauses and a smaller number of errors. However, it is also less ambitious in terms of the range of meanings communicated.

The language use of this student in this task is consistent with the descriptions of learners at Level C3, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Oral Task 20 – Criteria sheet – Sample 3


Sample 4 

Biographical information

Year level: Year 10

Home language: Dinka

Commentary

Although there some ways in which this talk is less fluent in places (for example in naming the product) than Sample 3, a wider range of meanings are communicated (including comments about staying cool in hot weather, information about the product, personal reactions to expenses, how to maintain and use it, and comparisons with alternative products. The student appeals directly to his audience to avoid the hells gate of hot weather, showing an innovative approach to selling his fan. He is less spontaneous when he reads from his notes, but he expands on his message, appealing directly to the audience. He also appeals to the audience by showing he has the same concerns as they do – I know I would be irritated by the bills … He sums up all his arguments in a final speech, showing control over many of the elements of persuasion.

A wide range of structures is used to express these meanings, and adverbs are used give more meaning to what is said. Despite this, the student makes relatively little use of comparative structures, which are used more in the samples at lower levels of performance.

The marked criteria sheet for sample 4 indicates that level 4 criteria statements describe most elements of the performance of the task, although in places the student does pause and hesitate, which suggests he is working hard to achieve what he does.

The language use of this student in this task is consistent with the descriptions of learners at Level C4, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Oral Task 20 – Criteria sheet – Sample 4


Sample 5

Biographical information

Year level: Year 10

Home language: Shona (a language spoken in Zimbabwe)

Commentary

This student’s confident and self-assured personality comes through, and assists him in the sales talk. He is more spontaneous in his talk and makes some mistakes, which he is able to correct without losing his confidence. He says a lot about the purpose, features and use of the fan he is trying to sell. He becomes more fluent when responding to a question compared to when he is relying on his notes. He uses a wide range of structures to talk about the product and make a case for why it is a good product for the audience to purchase, and uses a mixture of sales language – The real deal! I don’t know why you are waiting; come and buy this fan!, and some more factual expressions, – it doesn’t make a lot of noise, it doesn’t consume a lot of power. His pronunciation is clear, and the rhythm and intonation conveys a certain self assurance and calmness, despite the need to respond to his errors and interruptions.

The marked criteria sheet for Sample 5 shows his talk can be matched to the criteria for level 4 performance of this task. However, despite the range of structures and features he uses effectively, like Sample 4, this student makes little use of comparatives, a structure that could have helped to improve the parts of this talk where he was making comparisons with alternative products.

The language use of this student in this task is consistent with the descriptions of learners at Level C4, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.

TEAL Oral Task 20 – Criteria sheet – Sample 5


Using the assessment for future learning

Self-checking:

The students could be asked to review the video of their performance against success criteria and be asked to identify two things they did well, and two aspects so the performance they could improve on.

Suggestions of areas to look at could include:

  • The words they used
  • The way they described and presented their product, and compared it to the other products
  • The extent to which they used catchy words or phrases, or used devices such as alliteration, for example, ‘quiet and cool’ ‘efficient and economical’
  • The clarity of their speech, how accurately they pronounced words
  • How smoothly they connected words
  • How confidently they presented themselves
  • How convincing and persuasive they were

A teacher-student discussion could discuss how the student could move to achieve criteria at the next level of performance, and students asked to repeat the performance a few days later, making sure they worked to some of the criteria a level above their original performance

Peer checking

• students could asked to comment on parts of peers presentations that impressed them. Ask to give reasons for their answers.

• students could be asked to comment on what presenters did to make their products sound impressive.

 


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