Doing Versus Assessing Interactional Competence
The question of what counts as competent participation in interaction in a second language (L2) presents challenges for language assessment research and practice. Specifying features of talk and conduct that constitute such ‘interactional competence’ (IC) involves determining which “methods of interaction” are indices of IC in an L2. Participants in the rater and learner interactions, respectively, are faced with different challenges: producing versus identifying ratable samples of IC, where learners can only hope that what they collaboratively construct in the test is also salient to raters as IC. While L2 scholars struggle with the specification and operationalization of IC, practitioners also struggle with the assessment of L2 interaction. The chapter examines how teachers discuss particular learner contributions in presenting arguments for their scoring in relation to rubrics. Such reported speech turns can give an insight into the kinds of interactional conduct that raters perceive as salient to IC.