A 3-year research project, HY-Talk, was launched at the University of Helsinki, in 2007, with a focus on the assessment of oral proficiency in foreign languages. The financial support from the Research Grants Committee was allocated for the validation of five illustrative subscales of oral proficiency included in the new national core curricula for general language education in Finland.
Theoretically the design draws on the validity argumentation scheme proposed by Toulmin and Kane. The major claim to be probed is that the oral proficiency scales currently included in the core curricula are reliable and valid tools for assessing the communicative oral proficiency of students in general language education. The claim needs to be supported by a set of grounding evidence and warrant statements derived from the data. These address relevance, usefulness, the intended consequences, and the sufficiency of information. On the other hand, the claim will be confronted with counterclaims and rebuttal data. Specific research tasks assigned to individual researchers are generated from this overall argumentation frame.