Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit

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The SPEAK (Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit) is the institutional version of the TSE (Test of Spoken English) produced by Educational Testing Service. The SPEAK is given to evaluate the oral proficiency of incoming graduate students for whom English is not their native or primary language. In order for a graduate student to be assigned as a teaching assistant, administrative assistant, or laboratory assistant, the student must achieve a minimum passing score on the SPEAK.

When will the next SPEAK be given?

The SPEAK dates for the 2020-2021 Academic year will be will be:

Thursday, July 16 through Wednesday, August 5th, 2020
These days are for new incoming graduate students who will be teaching courses at Miami and need to have their language proficiency verified. If you are a returning graduate student already enrolled in a department and need to retake the SPEAK from a previous semester, simply enroll into the Canvas site and take the current version of the test available.

Wednesday, December 30th, 2020 through Thursday, January 7th, 2021

These days are for students who failed or were given a conditional pass on previous assessments and for new students who will be teaching for Spring Semester. 

Where will the SPEAK be given?

We are administering the SPEAK via Canvas. Students will self-enroll into the SPEAK Canvas site, be able to take a practice assessment immediately, and then during the open testing period, a SPEAK will be available on the canvas site to complete.  If you have problems, questions, or concerns with the SPEAK on the Canvas site, please contact Dan Meyers, Irvin Hall 47, by calling (513) 529-2510 or emailing at meyersde@miamioh.edu.

What happens during the assessment?


Be advised that each assessment will have a time limit of 120 minutes and you may have two attempts to take the assessment. If you wait until the last minute to take the assessment, you risk running into the deadline and not being able to complete the assessment. In such cases, the grading committee will treat this as a failed attempt at taking the SPEAK and you will be given a score of "Fail."

You will need the following pieces of hardware and software:

  • a computer (Windows, Macintosh, Linux, iOS, Android).
  • a current and up-to-date web browser, such as Mozilla Firefox, Google Chrome, Microsoft Edge, Apple Safari, or Opera.
  • a microphone available to record your voice (either built-in to the computer or an external headset or USB microphone that can be plugged in to the computer.
  • Audio recording software installed on your computer, such as Audacity, which is a free download. However, any software that can capture audio and save it as an *.aif, *.mp3, *.m4a, *.ogg, *.wav or *.wma file will work.

As you go through the assessment you will read and listen to the questions, then you will record your answer using your computer and headset/microphone.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there materials available to practice for the assessment?

Yes. If you wish, you can take a practice assessment to see what the format of the test is like. Self-Enroll into the SPEAK Canvas Site by clicking the button on this page and using your Miami UniqueID and MUNet Password. You can take the practice assessment up to 10 times.

Do I have to upload the audio each time that I take the practice assessment?

You do not have to, but if you want to simulate the real assessment as closely as possible, then you should. For each question, you will record your answer using an audio recording application and then upload each answer to the specific question. These audio files are not kept or graded. They will be replaced each time you take the practic eassessment.

Is there a count down for each answer? Do we have to think about the time in general and record it?

There is no count down to record the questions. You will simply use a recording software application like Audacity to record your answers, save the file, and then upload all the answers in one file at the end of the exam. You should keep your answers to the time allotted for each question, so if you see "Record your answer: (10 seconds)" after the question, then you should budget about 10 seconds to answer that question.

I need to know whether we have the same practice assessment to practice using 10 attempts.

For the practice assessment, yes, the questions are exactly the same each time.

Are the scores given for the attempts? The score for my first attempt is not displayed.

The practice assessment is not graded and audio files are not kept with this assessment. You will not see scores immediately in the real assessment because a committee of three people will have to listen to each of your answers and judge your ability and proficiency fo speak English.

I'm confused about the timing of the assessment.

The real assessment will last approximately 20 minutes in total length. However, we pad in a lot of extra time (up to 120 minutes for the total allocated attempt) because you have to record each of your answers and upload the file at the end of the assessment. In the past, students have been able to complete the assessment in anywhere from 30-45 minutes. So expect about 20 minutes of actual recording time, and anywhere from 10-30 minutes for file saving and uploading. We’ve allocated up to 120 minutes to err on the side of caution to be absolutely sure that students, especially those with very slow internet connections or sudden internet connectivity problems, can complete the assessment.

Do I have 120 minutes for the two attempts during the assessment?

For the actual assessment, you will have a total of 120 minutes from the time you start the assessment to submit your answers. If the first attempt does not work for whatever reason, you can retake the assessment a second time, and have another 120 minute to take the second attempt. If there are continuing internet problems or you could not upload your audio file after both attempts, you will need to contact Daniel Meyers (meyersde@miamioh.edu) for assistance.

Can I upload two audio files and do you consider both of them for scoring during the assessment?

No. We only listen to the most recent audio file that you uploaded. If you decided to take the second attempt, the audio from the first attempt is erased.

My audio recording software doesn't allow me to pause while recording. What do I do?

You should save each of your audio answers as a separate file, and then create a *.zip archive of all 12 answers to the questions. Upload the *.zip file at the end of the exam. If you continue to have issues, you will need to contact Daniel Meyers (meyersde@miamioh.edu) for assistance.

I get "ERR_CONNECTION_TIMED_OUT" on my screen.

From your error message, it seems to me that the internet connection is either being throttled or not fast enough for the Canvas server, so the server times out. If possible, you might have to find a stronger or faster internet connection. Make sure your web browser is updated to the most recent version as well.

I'm outside of the USA and can't access the site. The web page is blocked.

You will probably have to use VPN to tunnel in to Miami because of your government's national firewall rules might be blocking the connection. We have noticed this especially with students in China who are trying to connect to Miami. Try to download the latest version of Miami’s Cisco VPN for Windows or Cisco VPN for Mac OS. Use your Miami UniqueID and Miami Network Password to log in.

Do we have to select a specific date or time for the actual assessment?

No, once the actual assessment becomes active, you have the entire time period, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to take the assessment, until the cutoff at 11:59pm Eastern Standard (or Daylight) Time of the last day of the testing period.

When will results become available?

The grading committee will begin to grade assessments the day after the test. Results are usually given to the Graduate School in the morning of the next business day and you will receive an email message indicating your rating once the grading committee has completed your evaluation.

What do the assessment results mean?

FAIL: Students have failed the assessment. They may not teach courses and will be assigned other graduate duties if they were originally assigned to teach. Students will register for ACE 619 - Advanced Speaking and Presenting. This course is an introduction to American English pronunciation for students learning English as a second language. Topics to be discussed will include: the speech mechanism, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), consonants, vowels, word stress, sentence stress, and intonation. Students will have the opportunity to practice using and listening to American English during small groups in lab sections. The goal for this course is for students to learn strategies for development of more native-like speech production. Students will have an opportunity to retake the test when they feel that they are ready. If a student fails the assessment a second time, however, they will not be able to teach while attending the university.

CONDITIONAL PASS: Students may teach for one semester only and will also register for ACE 619 - Advanced Speaking and Presenting. Students will have an opportunity to retake the assessment when they feel that they are ready. If a student fails the assessment a second time, however, they will not be permitted to teach courses and will be assigned other graduate duties. If the student conditionally passes the second time, they may teach for one more semester while continuing courses in the American Culture and English program.

PASS: Students have passed the assessment and may teach at the university.

I'm in the SPEAK Canvas Site and see don't understand why I got the grade I got.

Since there are three possible outcomes to the assessment, Canvas grading is a little different than normal course grading. A 6/12 = Fail, A 9/12 = Conditional Pass, and a 12/12 = Pass.

If you failed or got a conditional pass on your assessment, you will continue to see the SPEAK Canvas site so you have access to the practice assessment and can prepare to take the assessment again in the following semester. If you pass the assessment, you will be concluded from the site and will no longer need access to the SPEAK Canvas site.

I don't agree with the SPEAK rating I got. Can I appeal the rating?

In some cases, yes. You will need to contact Dr. Tony Cimasko (tony.cimasko@miamioh.edu) to appeal your rating by sending him an email message clearly outlining that you wish to appeal the rating and why you feel you should be allowed to retake the exam. Dr. Cimasko will review your request, review your audio files and consult with the SPEAK committee to see whether there was consensus in the first rating. If he agrees with your appeal, you will be given instructions on how to retake the SPEAK.

I took the TOEFL test and got a good score. Why do I have to take the SPEAK too?

There are two main answers to this question:

The TOEFL is used primarily for admissions purposes at Miami University, whereas the SPEAK is used to determine whether or not the person can speak sufficiently for American students to understand them in a classroom setting. Even though the TOEFL and SPEAK  both have a speaking component, the purposes of each component are sufficiently different.

Ohio law indicates that all students who have been offered a graduate teaching assistantship must be assessed as proficient in oral English. This includes graduate students who have responsibility for laboratory in additional to classroom instruction.

BannerWeb currently doesn’t allow me to register for ACE619. How do I register for this course?

You will contact the American Culture and English department office and let them know you need to be added to an ACE 619 course. They will force-add you to a course and give you instructions on how to register for ACE 619.

162 Bachelor Hall
301 S. Patterson Ave.
Oxford, OH 45056
(513) 529-1206
Mrs. Carol Olausen, Director
Ms. Sara Pate, Administrative Assistant