The specific point system that TES uses to rate teachers as Proficient and Distinguished is somewhat arbitrary. For a better sense of the magnitude of these estimates, consider a student who begins the year at the 50th percentile and is assigned to a top-quartile teacher as measured by the Overall Classroom Practices score; by the end of the school year, that student, on average, will score about three percentile points higher in reading and about two points higher in math than a peer who began the year at the same achievement level but was assigned to a bottom-quartile teacher.
Historically language learning in classrooms focused more on reading and writing than on speaking. The use of modern technology has made it more practical for second language learners to actually practice speaking. One approach is use a video-call technology such as Skype to pair off two students who wish to learn each other's native language.  One obvious advantage of using such technology is that there is no need for the two students to be geographically close. Though if they are in very different time-zones, finding a suitable time can be a challenge.
Another approach is to use speech recognition software.  In the past the hardware costs alone were so high that this was not a viable option in public schooling. However, in recent years as technology improved and prices fell, schools around the world introduced tablet computers to the classroom. And so the required computing power is already in the hands of an increasing number of children. One of the major advantages of using speech recognition software is that it can give feedback and so can be used to help improve pronunciation.
The most important question raised by the Rahimi et al. study is: Should paranoids trust people working for an organization deeply involved in the Military-Industrial Complex? While Rahimi, the lead investigator whose site the paper is hosted on, is from MIT's EE and CS departments, the et al. (Ben Recht, Jason Taylor, and Noah Vawter) are from MIT's notorious Media Lab, which receives funding from DARPA  -- one of those government agencies they pretend to be concerned about. When it comes to mind control, they are hardly an unbiased party. That, combined with the aforementioned discrepancies and questionable procedures, makes their conclusions highly suspect.