Getting ready for the 2015 orals

Thu Jan 22 14:44:00 UTC 2015

This update includes comprehensive guidance, dates and FAQs to help teachers and exams officers arrange and prepare effectively for oral exams and assessments.

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You are reminded that it is no longer acceptable to submit oral recordings on cassettes. Please see our notice about the end of cassettes in language orals.

If you’re not sure when the oral window is for a specific A level, GCSE, Edexcel Certificate or International GCSE, need to know the GCSE controlled assessments (speaking) submission deadline or want to check the final date to request a *GCE London Centre oral, please read our notice on entries information and oral dates.

Formal oral examinations should be conducted on 1 day only. However, if you have a cohort of a size where this would not be possible, you may extend this to consecutive days. Different days can, of course, be allocated to different languages.

GCSE controlled assessments for the speaking unit can be conducted at any time during the GCSE course but must be submitted in the summer of the final year of each course. 

If you’re trying to arrange an oral for students in a language that isn’t taught at your school, our information grid should help you. 

Most qualifications feature compulsory oral units, although GCSE short courses (written language) are available across our suite of GCSE languages (Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Greek, Italian, Japanese, Russian, Spanish and Urdu) that only test reading and writing skills. These GCSE short courses may be useful if it is not possible to locate a suitable interlocutor to conduct an oral at your school.  

Watch our support video to find out more about arranging and preparing for GCSE orals in Arabic, Greek, Japanese and Russian. Produced and delivered by a senior examiner of the speaking unit, it provides essential guidance for examinations officers as well as teachers.

You can also view a pdf of the slides and the transcript of the video below.

Videos

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We’ve grouped together some useful frequently asked questions about oral examinations and assessments on an Oral units FAQs page. You may wish to bookmark the page in case more questions are added.  

In addition to the relevant language specification(s), you are advised to consult the following documents well before conducting the orals.

GCSE: Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Urdu

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GCSE: Arabic, Greek, Japanese, Russian

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Edexcel Certificate/International GCSE: Chinese, French, German and Spanish

The oral unit is an obligatory part of International GCSE and Edexcel Certificate qualifications in Chinese, French, German and Spanish. 'Instructions for the conduct of the speaking exam' are given in Appendix 3 of the specification. You are also advised to consult the speaking unit sections of the Teacher's Guide. The Teacher's Guide appears under the 'Teacher support materials' category of the relevant language-specific qualification homepage.

International GCSE: English (Second Language)

The oral unit is separate and optional in the International GCSE In English (Second Language) qualification and does not count towards the overall qualification. The 'Instructions for the conduct of the speaking exam' appear in Appendix 2 of the specification.

AS Chinese 

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Please note that the AS oral unit for Chinese does not require a native speaker to conduct the exam as candidates react to a written stimulus. It is suitable both for Mandarin or Cantonese learners.

There is no A2 oral examination for Chinese.

A level (French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu)

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Oral training guides for teachers are also available in French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu. They include samples of student work (You will need to click on the loudspeaker icon to access the recordings) and linked examiner commentaries.  

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It is possible to request a visiting examiner to conduct orals at your school. This service is only available for French, German and Spanish if there is a minimum of 10 tests per language. The 10 tests can include a combination of AS and A2 tests. To request this service, you must specify option B when making your candidate entries. There are no longer any separate OR6 forms to complete. More information is given in the 2015 GCE French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu administrative support guide.

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If there is no teacher at your school to conduct an oral exam, it is possible to enter candidates for GCE orals with a Pearson Edexcel examiner in London. This service is only offered for Russian, Italian, German, Spanish and Urdu. More information is given on page 7 of the 2015 GCE French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu Administrative support guide.

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GCSE: Chinese, French, German, Spanish, Italian and Urdu

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A Word version of the CM2 is available in the ‘Forms and Administration’ section on the language-specific GCSE homepage of our website.

GCSE: Arabic, Greek, Japanese and Russian

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A Word version of the above is available in the ‘Forms and Administration’ section on the language-specific GCSE homepage of our website

Edexcel Certificate/International GCSE: Chinese, French, German and Spanish

A candidate cover sheet and a CD insert/USB record sheet appear as Appendices 4 and 5 in the specifications.

International GCSE in English (Second Language)

A candidate cover sheet and a CD insert/USB record sheet appear as Appendices 3 and 4 in the specification.

AS Chinese

The digital recording labels and the OR1CN oral form appear in the 2015 AS Chinese Administrative support guide.

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A level French, German, Spanish, Italian, Russian and Urdu 

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Samples of students' controlled speaking assessments and linked assessment commentaries appear on the GCSE homepages for Chinese, French, German, Italian and Urdu. They can be found under the 'Controlled assessments' category.

Similarly, examples of student oral unit performances and examiner commentaries appear on the Edexcel Certificate and International GCSE and homepages for Chinese, French, German and Spanish.

In addition to recordings in the oral training guides, various samples of student performances in AS and A2 orals (with examiner commentaries) have recently been placed on the A level homepages for French, German and Spanish.

Other key resources include sample assessment material, past papers and examiner reports, which are all located on the language and qualification-specific homepages.

Alistair Drewery, Languages subject advisor
Alistair DreweryLanguages
UK: 020 7010 2187
Intl: +44 (0)20 7010 2187
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