COVID-19: Advice on alternative assessments for oral proficiency 

Toolkit for hiring managers

Table of contents

Introduction

The Public Service Commission (PSC) is taking steps to provide departments and agencies with additional flexibility to staff bilingual positions while the situation related to COVID-19 is ongoing. Among other measures, deputy heads are temporarily exempted from the requirement to use the PSC’s Second Language Evaluation (SLE) tests when assessing second language proficiency (reading, writing and oral) for appointments to bilingual positions. For more information, please consult the Information for human resources specialists: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

To support hiring managers with the assessment of oral proficiency, the PSC has developed this toolkit. It includes the following:

The suggestions and examples provided in the toolkit are for reference only. Interviewers can use other strategies and methods, which are equally valid.

Since A-level positions are rather rare, the examples and tips focus primarily on the assessment of levels B and C.

How to develop the assessment content

Assessment method

Suggestions for developing the assessment

1. Review the Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.

2. Determine the areas to be assessed

3. Develop the content for the assessment

Developing Interview Questions

General guidelines (for all levels)

Level B questions

Level C questions

How to assess candidates

Before the assessment

During the assessment

After the assessment

Demystifying Levels B and C

Here are some tips to better understand what is expected at the B and C levels:

  1. Review the descriptions for levels A, B and C in the Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages to have a better understanding of all three levels.

  2. See the descriptions of the B and C levels for the Oral Language Assessment (in the “Levels” section). These descriptions, developed by the PSC and based on the Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages, present the profile of typical performances at the B and C levels.

Sample Note-Taking Sheet for Interviewers (Level B)

Candidate: Key C = Consistently demonstrates competence
O = Occasionally demonstrates competence
D = Does not / Rarely demonstrates competence
Interviewer:
Date:
Behavioural Indicators C / O / D Notes and Examples
Understands questions and statements spoken in a standard dialect that deal with concrete, work-related topics delivered at normal speed.    
Speaks with spontaneity, although pauses for grammatical and lexical planning and repair are evident in longer stretches.    
Uses appropriate vocabulary to discuss concrete, non-routine situations and topics. There may be vocabulary difficulties in some areas, but most stretches are clear.    
Uses a variety of simple grammatical structures to discuss concrete, non-routine situations and topics. Situates events in time (past, present, future) and links a series of simple elements. There may be grammar difficulties in some areas, but most stretches are clear.    
Pronunciation is generally clear enough to be understood.    
General Comments:

 

 

Sample Note-Taking Sheet for Interviewers (Level C)

Candidate: Key C = Consistently demonstrates competence
O = Occasionally demonstrates competence
D = Does not / Rarely demonstrates competence
Interviewer:
Date:
Behavioural Indicators C / O / D Notes and Examples
Understands linguistically complex speech that deals with work-related topics and is spoken in standard dialect at normal speed.    
Has a fairly natural and even delivery, with occasional hesitations, but most hesitations are for ideas (which is normal, even in the first official language). A person at this level will not have the ease and fluency of a native speaker.    
Uses a broad range of vocabulary when talking about complex, abstract and hypothetical topics, with a relatively high degree of control. Errors rarely lead to misunderstanding.    
Uses a broad range of grammatical structures and verb tenses when talking about complex, abstract and hypothetical topics, with a relatively high degree of control. Errors rarely lead to misunderstanding.    
Pronunciation is generally very clear.    
General Comments:

 

 

Sample Scoring Sheet for Interviewers

Candidate: Date:
Interviewer: Total assessment time:
Questions:
1-
2-
3-
   

Standard Description

(List of aspects assessed taken from the Qualification Standards in Relation to Official Languages.)

 

Final Score
Required Level:
B ☐
C ☐
Meets the requirements of the required level (Pass)
Does not meet the requirements of the required level (Fail)
Rationale and Notes

 

 

 

 

Example Interview for Level B

A. Ask exploratory work-related questions. Something like:

B. Ask your 1st question. Something like:

Ask follow-up questions.

C. Ask your 2nd question. Something like:

Ask follow-up questions.

D. Ask your 3rd question (past event). Something like:

Ask follow-up questions.

E. Ask your 4th question (future event). Something like:

Ask follow-up questions.

Tips:

Example Interview for Level C

A. Ask one or two exploratory work-related questions to identify topics that could be expanded upon. Something like:

B. Ask a question to get detailed explanations. Something like:

Ask follow-up questions.

C. Ask the candidate to talk about a hypothetical situation. Something like:

Ask follow-up questions.

D. Ask the candidate to give and sustain their opinion. Something like:

Ask follow-up questions.

Tips:

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