|Name of oral assessment task
|What did you have for lunch?
|EAL curriculum level range
|A1, A2, BL, B1, B2, CL, C1, C2
|Interaction and negotiation
|To assess students' ability to discuss what they ate for lunch
|After watching a modelled interview, two students discuss what they ate for lunch, asking each other questions about what they thought about their meal, their general food preferences, and what they would like to eat the following day.
|Assumed knowledge and description
|Language centre/mainstream class
|EAL students can 'communicate in basic English about routine, familiar, social…situations'.
|Talking about everyday experiences
Purpose and value of task
This task assesses students’ abilities to talk about what they ate for lunch, what they thought about their meal, their general food preferences, what they will eat for lunch that day and what they would like to eat the following day. It also gives students the opportunity to ask questions about lunch and food preferences. Talking and writing about food is a common topic for students in the early stages of English language learning as they learn to communicate about familiar everyday situations. This kind of activity assists them to learn useful vocabulary sets such as food items, the names of meals, action words, and how food tastes. It also gives them experience in hearing and using the simple past and future tenses for common verbs such as eat, like, buy, and make. It also provides the opportunity for students to discuss their food preferences, and use to use common polite formulas. At the earliest stages students may only be able to label basic food items.
The students in the samples had all had experiences with talking and writing simply about the food they eat at lunchtime and their preferences.
The students were all able to communicate basic information about their lunch and food preferences and they were happy to talk about what they had eaten. All students, except for Sample 4, are at early Stages of English language development. They are mostly confident in being able to describe their food, and to use formulaic language to talk about it. Although the students vary in age, their language skills are somewhat similar, with a reliance on formulas and familiar questions and responses. They are all able to understand more than they can say, perhaps due to the fact that conversations about food commonly take place with students at these early levels. Sample 4 is included to show the contrast between the very earliest proficiency and later stages. Because a conversation about food does not really stretch students’ language skills beyond simple recounting, descriptions and preferences, plus the use of basic grammatical structures and well known vocabulary, it is not particularly suitable as an activity for the later stages of English language acquisition.
Student A (left of screen)
Home language: Assyrian
Student B (right of screen)
Home language: Assyrian
The two students have a conversation about their lunches but concentrate mostly on forming their questions and answers and do not have a particularly engaged or interested discussion.
The teacher introduces the conversation by saying Today we are going to talk about what you ate for lunch yesterday and gives an instruction to Student A to ask Student B what she ate. Both students listen attentively.
Student A says, Okay, and begins asking Student B a series of formulaic questions, What did you eat yesterday, for lunch? He listens to Student B’s response and asks further questions, such as, Who make it for you?, Did you enjoy your lunch? Each response is followed by a question from Student A.
He then asks some less formulaic questions, When was it done? (the last word was unclear), Is it your favourite lunch? When prompted by the teacher he follows her model and asks, What is your favourite lunch? After a slight hesitation the teacher prompts him again by suggesting, Maybe where? He then capably asks Where did you eat your lunch?, followed by And with who did eat?, before declaring That’s enough.
When asking Student B about her lunch today, he confidently uses the formula What is this? but is less confident when asking What’s inside the sandwich? due to his mispronunciation of ‘sandwich’. He also has difficulty when asking, Did you made it by yourself?, perhaps due to the past tense structure involved. He self-corrects a question for meaning – changing it from When did you made it? to When did your mum made it?
When responding to questions, he appears more confident, using words and phrases, such as, rice, yes, chips, 4 o’clock, or something like that. He is able to elaborate when asked ‘why’ questions, because I came back from school, and, because my mum made it.
Although Student A’s pronunciation is mostly clear, his intonation is quite staccato at this stage. He is able to sustain the conversation and to end it when he needs to. His use of the past tense is still developing, for example and he uses made and came correctly in statements but overuses it when asking, ‘did you‘ questions. Student A responds positively to the teacher’s encouragement and input.
The marked criteria sheet shows that the student meets most criteria at level 1 of performance and some at Level 2.
The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level B1, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.
Student B begins by responding with uum, I ate rice. She continues using a range of quite natural responses such as my mum and I’m not really sure. She does not yet consistently use the past tense, for example, No, my mum make it. Her body language and her responses show that she thinks carefully about what she is about to say, by pausing or sometimes using a filler, such as, uum …it’s a sandwich. Student B’s use of prepositions is still developing for example, on the table, at the kitchen.
Student B’s questions show that she uses formulaic questions well. She also asks more complex questions such as Why did you have that for lunch? She overuses the past tense in questions such as Who did you ate it with? She self corrects a question to add more precision, changing it from Why did she made that? to Why did she made chips for you today? Her questions are a little more interactive than Student A’s as they do show some follow up on his responses for example, Did you enjoy it? She effectively signals the end of the conversation by saying that’s it.
Student B’s overall communication and understanding are clear, as is her pronunciation. Her intonation shows a natural rising pattern, particularly when asking questions. She appears to be concentrating very hard and this is possibly due to her awareness of the unfamiliar context of being videoed.
The marked criteria sheet shows that Student B meets most criteria at level 2 of performance.
The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students working at Level B2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.
Student A (left of screen)
Home language: Amharic
Student B (right of screen)
Home language: Dinka
The two students have an engaged conversation about their lunches. They listen attentively to one another, and the teacher, and interact in an interested way.
Student A begins the conversation quite confidently by asking Student B What do you have for lunch? She listens and whispers to him, You ask me. After he repeats what he had, she adds … and? After his response, she again whispers to him, You ask me. The teacher suggests she asks another question, so she asks, Did you have cereal? and when he indicates his lack of understanding, she repeats the question a little louder and clearer. To move the conversation along, the teacher reminds Student A of the response. Student A then asks a range of questions, for example, Is it yummy? How? and Where did you have it?
When asking about his lunch for that day, with the picture cue, Student A needs less prompting, only once looking to the teacher for a cue. Student A is starting to use the past tense in her questions but not yet consistently. For example, she uses You bought it? but Who make it for you? Sometimes she uses intonation to turn a statement into a question. Her pronunciation is clear except for cereal.
Student A uses mainly short but appropriate responses to questions about her lunch such as, egg, sweet, me and chocolate biscuit. She can also give more detail when required. For example, My mum maked it for me … Home, in the table and … because it’s yum. In these examples, it is apparent that her sentence structure, particularly her use of the past tense and prepositions, is still developing.
Student A, appears to enjoy the interaction and attention. She sometimes looks to the teacher for suggestions and responds well to them.
The marked criteria sheet shows that Student A meets most criteria at level 1 of performance.
The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level A1, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.
Student B initially responds to Student A’s questions with appropriate replies such as, Yes, me, I did and chips and, when needed, he uses more detail, for example, Because I get a plate and I put the chips in. He clearly states when he is finished by saying, Nothing else.
Student B asks a range of original questions and without prompting, following up on Student A’s responses in examples like, Is it yum? and, How did it taste like? He also follows the teacher’s prompt of Who? by asking, Who made it for you? and Who gave it to you? as well as asking the clarifying question, When did I have it?
Student B uses the past tense correctly in both questions and answers. For example, My mum didn’t make it and When did you make it? but overuses it when asking about the day’s uneaten lunch by asking, Did this taste yum? and This biscuit, what did it taste like? He doesn’t quite yet have control of the past perfect tense in the example, I haven’t eat it yet. He uses a range of vocabulary including prepositions such as to and for appropriately. His sentences are generally clear and he uses creative structures such as, Now I have no more.
The marked criteria sheet shows that Student A meets most criteria at level 2 of performance, with some at Level 3.
The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students at Level A2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.
Student A (left of screen)
Year level: 2
Home language: Vietnamese
Student B (right of screen)
Year level 2
Home language: Hazaraghi
The two students and the teacher have conversation about their lunches and food preferences. The students rely on the teacher, who keep the conversation going. The students mainly respond to the teacher’s questions rather than engaging with one another.
Student A listens to the teacher’s introduction and replies, yeah but when the teacher asks if she wants to ask a question she replies, no. She predominately answers questions directed to her, with single word replies, such as yeah, rice and pear. Student A communicates quite a lot with body language, showing for example, her level of engagement, her lack of understanding, and her enjoyment, in an interaction when the teacher engages her in a guessing game. After the teacher’s explanation of snow peas she initiates an interaction by saying, I know. Student A makes some longer utterances such as, lettuce and egg and sauce tomato. She also says a few sentences such as, Yesterday I eat lunch order. This, however, is not factually correct, as the previous day had been Sunday. Her longest remark is I stay in house. I sleep in my cousin house.
Student A is clearly at a very early stage of English language learning. Her pronunciation is typical of an early Stage of development, such as leaving off some final consonants and mispronouncing ‘r’ in rice. She relies a lot on scaffolding from the teacher and relies on formulaic questions and answers. Even though she is working within a predictable routine, she is working hard to produce this language, which is based on her personal experiences.
The marked criteria sheet shows that Student A is working at level 1 of performance.
The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students working at Level A1, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.
Student B is very focused and listens attentively to both the teacher and to Student A. She often replies quite briefly, for example, meat and bread, apple, forgot, no and quite a lot of yeahs. When questioned directly, she gives more information such as, No, had fish, and after further questioning, … just fish … and … with coke. She is, however, concerned to get the correct information across, using supporting gestures to clarify her speech, in the example, … something like that … you buy it and my mum cook. She also says to the teacher, Yesterday wasn’t here and reiterates this information by saying, Yesterday no school, in order to correct to Student A’s error about her lunch order.
Student B uses simple sentences such as, We eat spaghetti with yoghurt and My mum make it. She sometimes uses simple past tense forms, for example, had and was but not yet consistently. She clearly demonstrates her understanding and is able to ask questions, including follow up ones, to elicit more information such as, Did you had anything else? and What?
The marked criteria sheet shows that Student A meets most of the criteria at level 2 of performance.
The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students working at Level A2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL .
Year level: 4
Home language: Dinka
In response to the teacher’s questions the student simply, but clearly and fluently, recounts what he ate for lunch, playlunch and lunch the day before. He is also able to describe the food, who made it and why, as well as his food preferences. When the teacher asks him questions, he interacts in a natural and relaxed style, and when asked for more detail, he is able to add it. He uses the past and present tense and he makes only a few grammatical errors such as, I got instead of ‘I’ve got’. He is also able to ask for clarification and a simple explanation. He use conjunctions, adjectives and adverbs appropriately.
Although he seems to enjoy the interaction and the opportunity to share with the teacher, this kind of basic task may not always be challenging enough for students beyond the initial stages. It clearly shows that the student has good everyday communicative language but the task does not give him the opportunity to use more complex subject specific vocabulary or more academic ideas and complex language.
This sample demonstrates why it is important for students to undertake a range of assessment tasks.
The marked criteria sheet shows that the student meets most criteria at level 4 of performance. (Because the criteria sheet is written to show the skills of students at early stages of development, it does not cover the range of skills this student is likely to have.)
The student’s language use in this task is consistent with the descriptions of students beyond Level B2, Victorian Curriculum F-10 EAL.
How the task could be used to increase student awareness as part of an assessment for learning approach
Students can practice the basic future tense, and become aware of the uses of some common, but irregular, past and present tenses, by completing sentence starters such as:
- Last Saturday I ate …
- At lunchtime I will eat …
- My mum made …
- My mum will make …
- We bought chicken and …
- We will buy …
Students can complete simple cloze exercises, a food diary or a class questionnaire, asking one another questions about meals and snacks eaten.
This activity provides a rich opportunity to discuss foods and meals across cultures, as well as healthy and less healthy food choices.
Students beyond the earliest Stages can be made aware of adverbs that clarify when things are done, such as usually, often never, always. For example, they can:
Choose the right word and complete:
- For breakfast I usually/sometimes eat …
- I always/ sometimes/ never have a lunch order.
Students can also write their own sentences for other students to complete.
To assist students to add more interest to their retell, ask them to add think of adjectives that work with the activities they talk about:
|Adjectives to describe it
|exciting, boring, slow, long
|visit to my friends
Students could brainstorm a list od common irregular past tense verbs, and add them to a poster for easy reference:
|Present tense – happening now
|Past tense – already happened
|swam, went swimming
|ate, was eating
|ran, was running
|drank, was drinking