Test-Takers’ Perceptions of Paired Speaking Tests and the Role of Interlocutor Variables in Pairing

Document Type: Research Article


Department of English Language, Faculty of Humanities, Bu-Ali Sina University, Hamedan, Iran


As a mixed-method study, this study investigated EFL test-takers’ perceptions of paired speaking tests and the role of interlocutor variables (i.e., peer interlocutor’s acquaintanceship, gender, and proficiency level) in pairing in a Cambridge English Language Assessment Open Center. The participants (N = 148), having experienced sitting either live paired speaking tests of Cambridge ESOL (group P, n = 53) or only IELTS solo interview, (group S, n = 48) or both (group P-S, n = 47), completed a validated Likert-scale questionnaire. Also, 63 of the participants attended, on a voluntary basis, a semistructured interview. Findings indicated group P test-takers had significantly more positive perceptions of paired/group speaking tests than their counterparts in group P-S, who, in turn, had significantly more positive perceptions of pairing than group S participants. Interview results revealed that the majority of the participants preferred friend, same-proficiency-level, and same-gender peer interlocutors. The (culture-specific) reasons for the findings are discussed in detail.