TfCS Frequently Asked Questions
For more information, visit the What is TfCS? page.
Conversation Hour: You are only allowed to sign up for one session per week.
Keep in mind, we do recommend that you at least schedule a One-to-One Session so that we may be better able to recommend additional services to you.
Keep in mind, you must be on time to each of your appointments. Failure to arrive on time to your appointment will cause you to be marked as a “no-show.”
After one (1) “no-show” appointment, your TfCS account will be disabled.
For more information regarding the cancellation policy, please visit the Attendance Policy page.
If you can’t or don’t want to make changes to your system (e.g. you are using a school computer), you can also open the Tools-to-Go page on your mobile browser, or use voice memo apps. iOS devices and many Android phones come with audio recorders preinstalled. In case your Android phone does not have one, here are some free ones you can use: Link 1 Link 2
TfCS Oral Communication Video Assessment (OCVA) FAQs
By participating in the OCVA each semester, you will have a clear picture of how your spoken English skills are developing and the progress you’ve made during your time at Baruch!
At TfCS, we believe that awareness is the first step toward greater intelligibility, confidence, and improved communication. We offer the OCVA so that you can experience a more objective view of your individual communicative challenges, and understand which skills you possess, as well as those you might need to work on. Quite simply, the OCVA is the best way to see your progress and continue to improve!
Don’t worry: it’s not scary! You will enter into a relaxed, friendly atmosphere when taking the OCVA. You will be greeted by our TfCS staff members, who will answer any questions you might have about the process. Your OCVA will be kept private and will only be accessible by you and the TfCS staff, so there’s no need to feel self-conscious or bashful. This is your time to practice, and our staff is here to help you improve your communication skills.
During the assessment, you will be video-recorded while you complete four simple oral tasks, which include:
- Reading a passage aloud
- Responding to a visual aid
- Describing a personal experience
- Role-playing simple everyday situations
The assessment itself takes no more than 20 minutes to complete.
Following the assessment, at least two professional Speech Consultants in the TfCS program will review your video and score it based on criteria from the OCVA Speaking Ability Rubric. These scores and detailed comments will be provided for you privately on Vocat, which is an online portfolio developed by the Center for Teaching and Learning (CTL) at Baruch College.
You will be able to privately review your video, scores, and helpful comments left by the TfCS Speech Consultants. You can also discuss your scored OCVA in a One-to-One Session with a Speech Consultant.
You should take the assessment each semester to have a clear picture of how your spoken English skills are developing, as well as the progress you’ve made during your time at Baruch.
You will enter into a relaxed, friendly atmosphere when taking the Oral Communication Video Assessment. You will be greeted by a TfCS staff member, who will answer any questions you might have about the process. The TfCS staff is here to make you feel comfortable and help you improve your communication skills, so don’t be afraid to ask them anything at all.
Upon entering the room, you will see a camera set up. We understand that at first it might be uncomfortable to speak on camera, but you should try to relax and focus on speaking directly to the Speech Consultant. In fact, there is no need to make eye contact with the camera during the assessment. You can pretend that it’s not even in the room!
Once you are comfortable and ready to begin, simply follow the directions of the Speech Consultant and do your best!
Be sure to read your confirmation email carefully, as it contains the room number and time for your assessment. Please show up five minutes early so that you can relax and focus on communicating clearly!
If you have time beforehand, you can do some warm-up exercises to get your muscles ready.
It is also a good idea to read the overview of the assessment description below.
The assessment is about 20 minutes long and consists of 4 tasks.
Task 1 – Read a Passage Aloud
Task 1 is a controlled speaking task in which you will be asked to read a passage aloud. The passage contains special pronunciation features that elicit and measure English sounds and word stress.
Task 2 – Respond to a Visual Aid
In task 2, you will be asked to describe a visual aid such as a line graph, bar chart, or pie chart, and offer explanations and/or future predictions. This prompt is designed to elicit and measure fluency, command of specific grammatical structures, and the ability to develop and present ideas coherently.
Task 3 – Respond to a Question
In task 3, you will be asked to respond to a prompt based on your own experiences and ideas. This prompt is also designed to elicit and measure specific grammatical structures, and solicit a range of phonological features to be measured.
Task 4 – Role-plays
In task 4, you will be asked to role-play situations that are typical of social, professional, or academic settings. You will also interact with the assessment administrator using appropriate communicative strategies that meet the expected norms of the community for target speech acts, such as apologizing, requesting, refusing, etc.
You will have the written directions for each task in front of you. The Speech Consultant will be reading the task directions. If you don’t understand what you are being asked to do, take your time, reread the directions on your own, and then ask your Speech Consultant to clarify. The entire test will be video recorded and scored by two experienced and normed raters who are professional Speech Consultants in the Tools for Clear Speech program.
Task 1 – Raters will score your pronunciation of word stress and consonant and vowels sounds, as well as overall intelligibility.
Tasks 2, 3, and 4 – Raters will score how clear and fluid your speech is, how effectively you use grammar and vocabulary to convey your ideas, how fully and coherently you present your ideas, and how well you put together your communicative strategies to meet social language norms and expectations.
When your assessment is scored and ready for your review, you will receive a confirmation email with instructions on how to access it. Your video, scores, and comments will be available on your private Vocat page and will be visible to no one other than the Tools for Clear Speech staff.
After accessing your scores and comments on Vocat, take some time to fully review your assessment and understand the critique that the Speech Consultants have provided. You should watch the full assessment at least twice to understand your challenges and progress. In addition, you may schedule a One-to-One Session with a Speech Consultant to discuss your assessment.
The assessment will only be accessible by you and the TfCS staff.
To sign up for the Oral Communication Video Assessment, log in to the TfCS online scheduler and choose “Oral Communication Video Assessment” from the drop-down menu. Choose an open appointment that fits your schedule and enter the required information. You will receive a confirmation email after you complete the appointment form.
Please show up five minutes early so that you can relax and focus on communicating clearly! Please do not be late.
That’s okay! It’s completely understandable to be a bit scared about being video recorded or seeing yourself on camera. We totally get it, and we do not want you to feel uncomfortable.
However, we ask you to keep these things in mind as you think it over:
The OCVA is private, and no one else will have access to your video, your scores, or the comments made by the speech consultants (other than, of course, the consultants themselves).
TfCS has assessed and scored hundreds of students, and some of them are probably your friends! Ask around and see if you know anyone who’s taken the OCVA. Have a conversation with them about their experience. We think you will be happy and feel relieved!
If you have questions or concerns, please contact us at TfCS@baruch.cuny.edu.