AI and Speaking: The next chapter

by | 22 March 2022

Over the last two years, it has been amazing to see so many teachers integrate new and exciting digital programs into their classrooms. Despite being born out of necessity, the openness to try new technologies has been extremely encouraging. Many of these technologies have been around and readily available for years – it’s just taken a change of perspective for them to be given a chance.

Take a look at online proctoring for a start. Two years ago, the concept was relatively unknown. Now, you will see at least 63% of universities in the US and Canada say they use online proctoring. But what’s next? What should we all be looking out for now?

I previously wrote an article about the exciting future of artificial intelligence (AI) in testing, specifically in grading writing assessments. You can read that post here. What I am most interested in now is how we can use AI in speaking assessments. The research on this topic has been growing rapidly and there are places you can learn about this topic, whatever level of technical understanding you have. I have put together a short list of a resources you can use to find out more:


Automated Speaking Assessment (2021)
This article summarises the key principles around automated scoring before illustrating them in the context of automated speaking assessment. It gives a critical view of automated testing, and suggests why and when we should recommend it to learners.

Artificial Intelligence in Assessment – A Case Study (2020)
You’ll find the potential applications of AI in assessment here. They give a brief overview of AI machine rating, the impact of AI on assessment, and what is involved in the training of autoraters.

Researchers to look out for

William Bayliss, Assessment Solutions Consultant, British Council

Trevor Breakspear, Innovations Project Manager, British Council

Trevor Breakspear and William Bayliss are researching a new approach to measure how well an AI auto-scoring system works. They recently gave a talk at the British Council New Directions East Asia conference on the topic. You can watch it here.


British Council Assessment Cafe
British Council Café Chats offer an online space for discussion, collaboration, and networking within the assessment community. You can browse through the previous talks on AI as well as keep an eye out for upcoming Café chats.

I hope you enjoy the resources as much as I have. Let us know if you have any other resources we should be looking at too!

Adrian Raper, Technical Director, ClarityEnglish

Adrian Raper, Technical Director, ClarityEnglish