Contextualized Speaking Assessment (CoSA)

The Contextualized Speaking Assessment (CoSA) is the speaking component of the Minnesota Language Proficiency Assessments (MLPA) battery of instruments developed for the purpose of certifying the second language proficiency of secondary and post-secondary students.

The CoSA is a test of oral proficiency at the Intermediate-Low level of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. It is modeled on the ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) and the Simulated Oral Proficiency Interview (SOPI) developed and disseminated by the Center for Applied Linguistics.

The CoSA, like the SOPI, is a mediated instrument requiring students to listen to an online prompt and record their responses on a computer. Individuals taking the test need only a headset and a computer with a microphone. The test can be administered to large groups in a language or computer lab.

Taking the CoSA

After logging on to their school's website and choosing the CoSA, students listen to the directions and a sample response. All instructions are in English.

After listening to a description of each situation and task, students hear a prompt in the target language. The prompt is not printed on the screen. Following the prompt, test takers are given 15 seconds "thinking time" to plan what they will say.

They are then are given 60 seconds to speak and provide a response. A tone sounds after 55 seconds to alert test takers that their time is almost up. A second tone sounds five seconds later when time is up.

Student responses are saved as mp3 files on a secure server where teachers can access students' responses for online rating.

The CoSA has several important differences from the OPI and the SOPI:

  • The CoSA certifies proficiency at one level of the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines. The CoSA model is thus the most efficient choice in situations where it is necessary to establish that the speaker's performance meets a minimal criterion, such as for fulfilling a graduation requirement, program evaluation, or as a criterion for placement in postsecondary intermediate level course sequences.
  • The CoSA requires little time to administer (about 20 minutes). The Intermediate-Low CoSA consists of five scored tasks, plus a warm-up and wind-down which are no scored.
  • In the CoSA, all scored tasks target language functions, topics, and discourse within situations appropriate to the Intermediate level.
  • All tasks in the CoSA are organized around a theme. Each task is preceded by a description of the context which relates the task to the overall theme. The contextualized tasks engage the test taker in a logical sequence of events with a limited number of interlocutors.

Sample CoSA Task

Other MLPA instruments

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