Announcing the winners of the British Council English language assessment MOOC speaking and listening task development competition.

Future Learn MOOC

In November last year the Futurelearn platform ran the British Council English language assessment MOOC. This was a free MOOC focusing on the English language assessment of all 4 skills and on grammar and vocabulary. Over 200 Sri Lankan teachers and teacher educators took part in the MOOC. After the course finished the British Council ran a  competition which asked these teachers and teacher educators to develop one speaking and one listening assessment task for a specific secondary grade and aimed at specific speaking and listening competencies.

Platform to discuss speaking and listening assessment

On Monday 1 March a virtual event provided a platform to discuss speaking and listening assessment at secondary level in Sri Lanka and to announce the winners of the competition.

The event started with Louise Cowcher, Director Education and English, British Council, speaking on ‘Assessment - why it matters!’ and linking assessment to the world of work.  This was followed by Maarya Rehman, Country Director, describing our work on the TRANSFORM Programme. Then there was a panel on the state of speaking and listening assessment in Sri Lanka and the reforms that are in the planning. Mr Sanath Jayalath, Deputy Director English and Foreign Languages Branch Ministry of Education explained how speaking and listening skills assessment have been integrated into school based assessment in the last couple of years and its importance; Ms Hasantha Kuruppu, Assistant Commissioner Department of Examinations, Ministry of Education addressed the question of how her department was making this a priority and what needed to happen before these skills could be assessed  more formally; and our own Louise Cowcher, explained what the backwash effect is and how testing of these skills would impact on teaching of them. It was a lively discussion with questions from the viewers.

Competition Aims

The aim behind the competition was two fold: (1) it aimed to give the participants a chance to put the knowledge and skills they gained on the course into practice as soon s possible after the course (2) it aimed to both develop a bank of speaking and listening assessment tasks which could be refined later and circulated to all schools and to identify potential test writers for future assessment workshops.

Selecting the Winners

The entries were evaluated according to their task completion (did they do everything required), their practicality and appropriateness for the school setting,  and their rationale behind the development of the tasks. Representatives from the Ministry of Education and the British Council evaluated the entrants independently and anonymously and submitted their marks which were combined and 3 winners selected.


First prize Ms Dhammika Godha Pathirana
Second prize Ms Azra Mohamed
Third prize Ms Cinthuja Gowsigan

They each received a Samsung tablet. 

The British Council recently concluded a short awards celebration of the British Council’s Language Assessment Massive Online Open Course (MOOC).

This is the recording of the event and a short video of the three winners of the listening and speaking skills assessment challenge which was set for over 200 teacher-participants. The audio is in response to the question: What are the qualities of a good speaking and listening test?