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Speaking has been increasingly promoted in curricula, both nationally and internationally, as one of the major aims of foreign language teaching. However, the unique features of this skill make it the most challenging one to assess. Portuguese EFL teachers seem to be at odds with suitable assessment procedures designed to monitor students’ progress. This paper examines the rationale underlying some of the core concepts on educational classroom-based assessment, including their definitions and key characteristics, as well as briefly outlining the theoretical premises of the communicative competence model designed by Canale and Swain to suggest what may be assessed. It also focuses on a new approach to language assessment – learning-oriented assessment, by highlighting its twofold potential to be the link between instruction and what is learned and to promote effective student learning. The paper concludes with two different practical examples of how to assess speaking in the classroom with a learning-oriented perspective in mind.