Traditional formal assessments are constrained by a number of factors. Both the audience and the industries they serve have developed in an environment that has not had the benefit of technology. Technology has progressed dramatically in the past 20 years. The advent of the Internet as well as tremendous advances in speech recognition and speech scoring technology have made new methods of learning possible.
Learning to understand speech at the speed at which it is normally spoken, is a key element of language power. Traditional learning methods tend to over emphasize reading and writing at the expense of speaking and listening. As a result or perhaps because of this traditional assessments also overemphasize reading and writing at the expense of speaking and listening. If we think about how infants learn their first language, it is without books and homework and they learn entirely through their years. We begin learning the sounds and rhythms of our native language in the womb. Then we have another 12 to 24 months before we utter our first words. Therefore the emphasis is clearly on listening with almost 3 years of listening before the emphasis begins to include speaking. Think about your first day in a formal language class. It rapidly becomes clear that the focal point for learning is the book, where the written word has precedence over learning through your ears.
The Language Power Institute is strongly in favor of methods for learning and assessment that foster listening at rates of speed that are found in the real world. As technology improves we are constantly looking for ways that real world listening and learning can occur for students the world over. However, it is important to realize that our ability to understand speech at increasing rates of speed, develops over time. For example, parents and care givers speak to very young children at a slower rate of speed than they speak to their peers and co-workers. Therefore it would be ideal if a learning system allowed the learner or the instructor to gradually increase the rate of speech as the learner’s skills develop.