Cambridge English Exams & How They Are Mapped to the CEFR

There are five main Cambridge English exams:

  1. Key English Test (KET),
  2. Preliminary English Test (PET),
  3. First Certificate in English (FCE),
  4. Certificate of Advanced English (CAE), and
  5. Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE).

These exams are designed to assess competency in English for learners of English as a second or foreign language.

KET is the easiest of the Cambridge exams. It is for elementary level. You can do this exam if you want to know that you have basic knowledge of reading, writing, speaking and listening in English. The test has three sections:

  1. Reading & Writing – 70 minutes, 56 questions.
  2. Listening – 25 minutes.
  3. Speaking – 8:10 minutes.

PET is for intermediate level. With this level of English you will be able to enjoy holidays in English speaking countries. And once you have passed this exam, you should probably continue your studying in English. The test has three sections:

  1. Reading & Writing are taken together – 90 minutes.
  2. Listening – 30 minutes.
  3. Speaking – an interview, 10 minutes.

FCE is the most important of the Cambridge exams as it gives you the first certificate in English. It is for upper intermediate level. The test has four sections:

  1. Reading & Use of English – 75 minutes.
  2. Writing – 2 essays, 80 minutes.
  3. Listening – 40 minutes. 
  4. Speaking – interview, normally with another candidate, 14 minutes.

CAE is for you if you can communicate with confidence in English for work or study purposes. The test has four sections:

  1. Reading & Use of English – 90 minutes.
  2. Writing – 2 tasks, 90 minutes.
  3. Listening – 40 minutes, 30 questions.
  4. Speaking – interview, normally with another candidate, 15 minutes.

CPE is the hardest of the Cambridge exams. It is for super advanced level. If you pass this test, it means that your English is good enough to teach English to others and to study at any British university. The test has five sections:

1. Reading – 4 parts, 90 minutes.

  • part 1: 3 texts with 18 gaps.
  • part 2: 4 related texts with 2 questions each.
  • part 3: text with missing paragraphs.
  • part 4: text with multiple choice questions.

2. Composition – 2 tasks, 2 hours.

3. Use of English – 3 parts, 90 minutes

  • part 1: text with 15 gaps.
  • part 2: word formation.
  • part 3: gapped sentences.

4. Listening – 2 parts, 3 or 4 recordings, 40 minutes.

  • part 1: 4 passages with multiple choice questions.
  • part 2: 1 long passage with gapped text.

5. Interview – normally with another candidate, 15 minutes.

Cambridge English exams aim to provide information about the learners’ level in each individual language skill (reading, writing, speaking and listening), to enable learners to act on problem areas and monitor their own progress. They are also designed to allow students to be actively involved in their learning, and gain self-confidence as they move to the next level.

Cambridge English exams are also mapped according to The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF or CEFR).

(CEF or CEFR) was put together by the Council of Europe as a way of standardizing the levels of language exams in different regions. It is very widely used internationally and all important exams are mapped to the CEFR.

CEFR has six levels: A1, A2, B1, B2, C1, C2. Here is a short description for each level and the Cambridge English exam at it.

A1 level is described as a basic ability to communicate and exchange information in a simple way.

A2 level is described as an ability to deal with simple, straightforward information and begin to express oneself in familiar contexts. Cambridge Key English Test (KET) is at this level.

B1 level is described as the ability to express oneself in a limited way in familiar situations and to deal in a general way with non-routine information. Cambridge Preliminary English Test (PET) is at this level.

B2 level is described as the capacity to achieve most goals and express oneself on a range of topics. Cambridge First Certificate in English (FCE) is at this level.

C1 level is described as the ability to communicate with the emphasis on how well it is done, in terms of appropriacy, sensitivity and the capacity to deal with unfamiliar topics. Cambridge Certificate of Advanced English (CAE) is at this level.

C2 level is described as the capacity to deal with material which is academic or cognitively demanding, and to use language to good effect at a level of performance which may in certain aspects be more advanced than that of an average native speaker. Cambridge Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) is at this level.

What is your level of English? Which exam should you study for? If you want to check your level of English, Subscribe to our Blog to send you by email an English level test. At the end of the test your level will be assessed at a CEF level (A2 to C2). Then, with the comparison mentioned above, you will be able to decide which exam you should study for. 

P.S. If you like this article, please share it with others using sharing buttons below. And if you are interested in receiving more materials about creative, non-boring & effective ways to teach & test English language, please Follow our Blog via Email.

Ten Things Students Expect From EFL Teachers in the Classroom

When students enroll on an EFL course or enter an EFL class, they always have their list of wants and needs. When they feel these things aren’t right and their expectations aren’t addressed, they start complaining or stop attending the course. So EFL teachers should take the following things into consideration:

1. Determining students’ levels of English.

Students come to your class with different objectives, needs and levels in English. So, you need first to start with doing something to identify each learner’s level. You can conduct a placement test to know that. Classify your class into groups according to the level of each one and adjust your activities accordingly.

2. Giving students the chance to feel they make progress.

Students need to feel a sense of progress and achievement. You can do so by telling students with the objectives of each activity they do in the classroom. Then give some quizzes to measure their progress giving them immediate feedback.

3. Encouraging students and inspiring them.

Students need encouragement to keep going in their journey of learning. Encouragement for students is like the fuel for the car. Praise any little progress and provide support all the time. Plan not only to teach students but to make difference in their life. Always instil positive attitudes in them toward English learning and creativity in using it. Make them convinced that content they are being taught is meaningful and useful for their progress in life.

4. Creating interesting experiences.

When you plan your lesson, you should put in your mind that today’s students are different. They have control on their choices and spend their time differently so if you want your students to learn, learning experiences should be planned to be interesting and motivating. They should be inspiring, engaging, exciting and empowering them.

5. Providing useful learning materials.

Learning materials can support student learning and increase their success. Learning materials should be tailored to the content in which they’re being used and to the students they are using. The availability of these materials is very important. The Internet has many resources for teachers, most of them free, that can help them make their own materials. And then teachers should upload them to all students to be available at any time everywhere.

6. Covering the four main language skills.

Language skills relate to different aspects of using language such as listening, reading, writing or speaking. Skills are our ability to do these things. They are usually divided into two types: receptive and productive. Receptive skills are those used in understanding, reading or listening. Productive skills involve producing language, speaking or writing. It is important to consider the four skills when designing language learning materials. This helps to identify the objectives of each activity or lesson. It is generally accepted that receptive skills should come before productive skills, however, it is important to remember that communication is interactive and requires the use of all skills most of the time. Learning materials based on covering all skills are realistic considering the real use of language everyday.

7. Keeping good relationship with students.

Students come to the EFL classroom expecting that they will enjoy friendly and intimate atmosphere. Comfortable learning environment is very important for students to learn and memorize what they get. Teachers should start their classes with a big smile asking students about how they are and call each student with his/her name. when the teacher starts questioning, he/she should avoid threatening or embarrassing any student. The teacher should be just a facilitator or a guide to students not a boss.

8. Being aware of native speakers’ culture.

Foreign language is more than knowledge of some theoretical aspects like vocabulary of grammatical items. When communication matters, Fluency becomes more important than accuracy, ideas and opinions more exciting than grammar and vocabulary. EFL teachers in the classroom should combine linguistic competence with cultural awareness. It is the knowledge of communicating beyond words. By understanding, appreciating the other’s values, customs and beliefs and the awareness of the different cultures among and around us, students will be able to absorb the foreign communicative language more easily and consider how it is different from their native language.

9. Providing immediate correction and feedback.

For students to feel a sense of achievement, they should receive immediate correction and feedback for their spoken or written answers. Such feedback can help students learn more efficiently; and if used correctly, feedback can function as a very powerful tool to motivate students to learn.

10. Being fair and flexible.

Even life is not fair, but students expect classroom should be so. To be fair means being clear, helpful and caring for all students all the time. In addition, you should be flexible with your students. you should have the ability to change to suit the different situations. Your adaptation to new and different circumstances is the key factor that leads to success in your career of teaching EFL.

Seven Top Technologies Will be Used More in ELT in the Near Future

These technologies represent some of the latest tools and trends in ELT. While some are being implemented now, the use of others is on the horizon. So you need to prepare yourself for them in the next one to five years. Here is the list of them:

1. Smart Watches

Smart watches promise for new ways of learning. Its motion and pressure sensors can make it more applicable for activity-based learning.

2. Smart Phones, Tablets and Mobile Phones

Students who have these gadgets and used to access to the internet using them have been growing. Students can easily use these tools for their learning. It will give them an opportunity for more independence and openness in addition to more collaboration with tons of learning resources and apps.

3. Cloud Computing

Google Classroom  is one of the cloud-based tools which more schools will use in the next five years as it make easier for students and teachers to have access to information wherever they are, on whatever device they have.

4. Social Media

Using social media nowadays is the standard. They will be used more in the near future across schools and universities for research and share information

5. Open Source Software

Blogs, eBooks MOOCs and other open source content will be used increasingly as they provide students with a chance to have control on their learning.

6. Flipped or Blended Learning

This approach will become more commonly used in the next five years as it allows students to be responsible for their learning and gives opportunity to teachers to spend more time preparing challenging tasks to their students.

7. Gamification

Using games in learning increases the stickiness of the lesson in students’ memory as they – according to many researches – remember 90% of what they do. For that reason it is expected to use gamificaton more in the next two or three years.

In Sum: These new technologies continue to emerge and be used in the learning community in general and particularly in ELT field. As a teacher, you should be ready for that use evaluating them to see how to get the most benefit from each one.

The Latest Trends in English Language Teaching & Learning

1. CLIL (Content and Language Integrated Learning):

It is one of the latest trends in ELT. This model pursues to make a link between language learning and content development. That is to say, English learning is more oriented around school subjects (History, Science, Geography … etc.). The underlying principle is that English should not be the end of a language program but the means through which learners will acquire knowledge in other fields.

I think that this is a more academic and scientific orientations for which teachers have to be well prepared. The approach demands not only the mastery of English and the management of ELT methods but certain degree of awareness of some disciplines.

2. e-learning applied to ELT:

It is one of the latest trends and how it can be applied to ELT is probably a good area for research as the internet becomes more available to an ever wider group of students. How students interact and how the systems used facilitate that interaction is a question which will need to be understood to increase the effectiveness of this medium.

3. Blended learning:

It is the approach that is at the cutting edge in education and with a wide range of possibilities for ELT. It helps teachers optimize language learning and teaching by using ICT (Information and Communication Technology) resources (internet, web-based tools, CD-Roms, etc.) in combination with face-to-face sessions. E-learning that encompasses the use of technological and electronic support for educational purposes embraces blended learning.

4. TBLT (Task-based language teaching):

It is among the latest trends in ELT nowadays where users can have varieties of learning experiences in life-like environments. It focuses on the use of authentic language and on asking students to do meaningful tasks using the target language. Such tasks can include visiting a doctor, conducting an interview, or calling customer service for help.

Assessment is primarily based on task outcome (in other words the appropriate completion of real world tasks) rather than on accuracy of prescribed language forms. This makes this approach popular for developing target language fluency and student confidence. As such TBLT can be considered a branch of communicative language teaching (CLT).

5. Situated Language Teaching:

In this approach learners involve actively in meaningful language learning situations and contextualized practices created by the teacher. Situated language learning focuses on   the contexts, situations and knowledge construction. Skills and knowledge are best acquired within realistic contexts and authentic settings, where students are engaged in experiential language learning tasks.

6. Edutainment

It is started to be heard most nowadays.  It refers to using online games and games in ELT and self-language learning. Learners should be so engaged that they should forget even they are learning something. In this approach learning and entertainment are two words used together.

Six Myths about the Teaching of Listening

There are six myths or half-truths that are related to the teaching of listening during the process of language learning. They are false rituals which need to be analysed and put into question. Let’s consider them.

1. Listening can’t be taught:

In fact there are many things teachers can do to help students listen effectively. Teachers can continually expose their students to appropriate listening material which should be followed by good practice activities which give students opportunities to listen successfully and build confidence in listening skill. Teachers can teach students some strategies which can guide them to efficient listening.

2. Listening is a passive skill:

Listening is not passive but on contrary it is extremely active. During listening students do many activities. They guess, predict, infer, criticize and above all they interpret. Clearly it is a receptive rather than a passive skill.

3. For students, understanding foreign speakers of English is easier than understanding native speakers.

Of course it depends on other conditions such as the speed of the speaker talk and the amount of exposure to the target language. A further point is that the type of English students are exposed to affects their performance in the listening work they do in classroom.

4. Listening to a foreign language and listening to our native language involve same skills:

There are some differences in applying these skills. When we listen to our language we listen with “half an ear” that is without concentrating fully but still we understand the message. On the other side when we listen to a foreign language, we often need to pay full attention to the message to understand.

5. Students should understand every word while listening in the classroom:

It is not necessary as speech usually consists of words that are not important. Spoken language includes redundancy which makes listening easier because it allows us not to focus fully on every word. But one important point must be considered here, students can afford not to listen to every word when they have a command of basic grammar and vocabulary. In this case, they will be able to decide which words are significant and which ones they can ignore.

6. Students shouldn’t be allowed to read the scripts of recordings:

When it happens, it may be said that students will focus on the reading more than the listening. The solution here is to use the script at the final stage after students listen to the text at least twice. Overall, it must be said that the exposure to the script has its benefits such as allowing students to see the difference between the written and spoken form of words. It also allows them to see which words are “swallowed” and notice prominent grammar points.

15 Questions to Ask Yourself About Your Teaching to Improve

Perhaps your previous school year went well and your teaching was amazing. Maybe you think it wasn’t and it went poorly. Maybe you can describe your previous school year and evaluate your teaching with different adjectives. Maybe you were not conscious about your performance.

So here are some questions to help you reflect on that school year so that you can be aware of what had happened and then can do your best in summer to make the next school year better.

  1. When were students at their best and how did I know?
  2. When did I notice myself doing the best and how did I know?
  3. What were classroom management strategies I used and were they successful?
  4. What did I do to save time as a teacher? Did I succeed?
  5. What are the key things that affect my effectiveness as a teacher?
  6. What was my teaching philosophy and was it reflected on my teaching practices?
  7. How was my relationship with my colleagues and how did it affect my performance?
  8. How was my relationship with my students and how did it affect their performance?
  9. How did I spend time inside and outside the classroom and how did I know that I did the right/wrong things?
  10. What did I do to motivate students to do what I asked them to do?
  11. Of the things that I didn’t do last year, which one was most worth my time to do?
  12. Could I affect my students and changed their lives positively? What should I do to do so?
  13. Did I succeed in making teaching fun for me? What should be done to feel so?
  14. What am I most excited about for the next year? Am I prepared for it?
  15. What is the one “big idea/thing” I should focus on during this summer to improve my teaching?

Seven Tips to Speak English Fluently

You may have been studying English for many years but still feel that English is stuck in your mouth and you can’t express yourself freely to people. When it comes to talk, you may realize that your English is frozen and you don’t remember any word. You may think that your English level isn’t enough to speak fluently and you need more practice to increase your level from intermediate to advanced one.

Feeling stuck is frustrating and discouraging. Sometimes, you might lose confidence and give up. The good news is you can fix this problem. Here are some tips you can use to begin to move forward and avoid feeling stuck in your English.

1. Make English a part of your everyday life:

Practice English regularly, just for 10 or 15 minutes daily. Do something in English every day. For example, listen to different English podcasts every morning, read something in English before you go to sleep, watch something in English in your free time.

2. Read out loud and record yourself talking in English:

Read aloud to practice the pronunciation. You can also record yourself talking about what you understood. Record yourself talking in English and then you can see what you need to improve if it is grammar, vocabulary or pronunciation.

3. Engage in a conversational class:

Enroll in a class of English conversations to learn how to express yourself in each real-life situation. In this course you can learn new vocabulary and grammar and how to use them in conversations. Moreover, you will practice speaking and listening.

4. Watch series or movies in English without subtitles:

That way you will sharpen your listening skills plus you will get the real language that native speakers speak. In this case, there is a great chance to remember the spoken language because of your high concentration and desire to know what they are talking about in the movie.

5. Listen to music lyrics with their scripts:

It is fun for you and you can learn new words from lyrics of songs you love. These new words you learned are used in sentences so it is easier to remember them.

6. Use what you learn the same day:

If you learn a new word, a new phrase or some grammar, you should use it the same day. For example, you can write a comment on Facebook or an email, tell your friend or relative about it.

7. Communicate with a native speaker:

The best way to develop your confidence in English is to communicate with native speakers so they can help you practice authentic English.

Top Seven Things for EFL Teachers to Do During Summer Vacation

It is your right after a lot of effort you did as a teacher to relax during summer vacation but it is also a chance to reflect on the previous year, prepare yourself for the coming year and develop your teaching skills. Here are the best seven things you can do in order to get the most benefit from the summer months.

1. Do Something for Yourself:

Start your summer vacation by doing something to recharge yourself and raise your enthusiasm. Go to the beach or on a series of picnics. Take care of your body by doing gym. Practice your hobbies individually or with your close friends. Recall your happy memories with your friends and relatives. Write down your dreams, ambitions and what you’ve achieved up till that point of time.

2. Keep Informed With Your Profession and Specialization:

Keep reading the news, latest publications, periodical journals, and educational magazines to know what’s happening in the field of education in general and in teaching EFL in particular. This up-to-date information could mean a big change in your tomorrow’s classroom practices. Write down your vision, opinion or comment on what’s going.

3. Inspire Yourself:

Remember that you are a professional person and you like your profession. Raise your positive attitude toward your job by reading about great educators and their success to make a difference in their surrounding world. Check out some inspirational books and movies. Plan to read and watch what can make you proud of being a teacher.

4. Reflect on Your Last Year’s Teaching Experiences:

Think back of your teaching experiences in the classroom and of how you were dealing with your various students. Write down aspects of success, what you did poorly and the challenges you encountered. Assess your classroom work. Look back at how you were teaching inside the classroom to see where you can increase your effectiveness and decrease time off task. Examine the lows and critically think about what you could do to avoid these situations in the next year.

5. Continue Learning About Your Profession and Specialization:

Set the goal of mastering teaching EFL by doing the following:

  • Enroll in EFL classes.
  • Pursue a Master degree in teaching EFL.
  • Attend seminars and workshops.
  • Read about the topics you teach.
  • Read about the latest trends in teaching EFL.
  • Attend online classes in EFL teaching.
  • Read online materials that renew your EFL knowledge.
  • Download and read e-books.

6. Volunteer at a Summer Programme:

Just because the school year ends, doesn’t mean students stop learning or you have to stop teaching. You can dedicate certain time weekly to help students in your community who are having difficulty with EFL. You can teach summer classes at your school, a nearby community college or at a summer program. Voluntary teaching adds value to students as well as to your experiences and ability to communicate with various children.

7. Plan for the Next Year:

You should use your summer to plan for the coming school year. It will free up much time when classes start. Start planning from your previous reflection and from your knowledge about what worked and what didn’t work with your students.  Think about your learning objectives (what you want the students to achieve at the end of the course you teach), plan effective and fun learning activities (something that will really capture your students’ attention), and come up with an assessment plan to implement throughout the course of the lessons. Brainstorm creative ways and activities to make this next year successful for your students and you.

Top 5 Characteristics of a Good Language Test

A good language test should have a positive effect on learning and teaching. Such a test should aim at specifying areas of difficulties experienced by the class or the individual students so that additional practice and corrective exercises can be given.

A good language test should also measure students’ performance without setting “traps” for them. It should be developed well to provide an opportunity for students to show their ability to perform certain language tasks.

On the other side, the test should enable the teachers to find out which parts of the language program cause difficulty for the class. In this way, the teachers can evaluate the effectiveness of the syllabus as well as the methods and materials they are using.

Although language testing is a fundamental part of learning and teaching in school today, it is at any level a highly complex process because it must be based on theory as well as practice.

A written language test is a classic example of formal assessment where students should be aware of being tested for a reason. There are some various characteristics that should be taken into account when constructing and using a language test. These qualities should be addressed with high consideration in order for a language test to have the positive effect.

This article sheds some light on the top five characteristics of a good language test. In order to describe it as Good, a language test should be:

1. Reliable:

Reliability is consistency, dependence and trust. This means that the results of a reliable test should be dependable. They should be consistent (remain stable, should not be different when the test is used in different days).  A test that is called reliable yield similar results with similar group of students took the same test under identical conditions.

Thus reliability has three aspects:  reliability of the test itself, reliability of the way in which it has been marked, and reliability of the way in which it has been administered.

The three aspects of reliability are named: equivalence, stability and internal consistency (homogeneity).

The first aspect, equivalence, refers to the amount of agreement between two or more tests that are administered at nearly the same point in time.

Equivalence is measured through administering two parallel forms of the same test to the same group. This administration of the parallel forms occurs at the same time or following some time delay.

The second aspect of reliability, stability, is said to occur when similar scores are obtained with repeated testing with the same group of respondents. In other words, the scores are consistent from one time to the next. Stability is assessed through administering the same test to the same individuals under the same conditions after some period of time.

The third and last aspect of reliability is internal consistency (or homogeneity). Internal consistency concerns the extent to which items on the test are measuring the same thing.

There are three factors affect test reliability:

  1. The length of the test. longer tests produce more reliable results than very brief quizzes. In general, the more items on a test, the more reliable it is considered to be.
  2. The administration of the test which include the classroom setting (lighting, seating arrangements, acoustics, lack of intrusive noise etc.) and how the teacher manages the test administration.
  3. Affective status of students. Test anxiety can affect students’ test results.

2. Valid:

The term validity refers to whether or not the test measures what it claims to measure. On a test with high validity the items will be closely linked to the test’s intended focus. Unless a test is valid it serves no useful function.

One of the most important types of validity for teachers is content validity which means that the test assesses the course content and the outcomes using formats familiar to the students.

Content validity is the extent to which the selection of tasks in a test is representative of the larger set of tasks of which the test is assumed to be a sample. A test needs to be a representative sample of the teaching contents as defined and covered in the curriculum.

Like reliability there are also some factors which affect the validity of test scores.

Factors in the test:

  • Unclear directions to students to respond the test.
  • Difficulty of the reading vocabulary and sentence structure.
  • Too easy or too difficult test items.
  • Ambiguous statements in the test items.
  • Inappropriate test items for measuring a particular outcome.
  • Inadequate time provided to take the test.
  • Length of the test is too short.
  • Test items not arranged in order of difficulty.

Factors in test administration and scoring:

  • Unfair aid to individual students, who ask for help,
  • Cheating by students during testing.
  • Unreliable scoring of essay type answers.
  • Insufficient time to complete the test.
  • Adverse physical and psychological condition at the time of testing.

Factors related to students:

  • Test anxiety of the students.
  • Physical and Psychological state of the student,

3. Practical:

Practical test is the test that is developed and administered within the available time and with available resources. Based on this definition, practicality can be measured by the availability of the resources required to develop and conduct the test.

Practicality refers to the economy of time, effort and money in testing. Practical test should be easy to design, easy to administer, easy to mark and easy to interpret its results.

Traditionally, test practicality has referred to whether we have the resources to deliver the test that we design.

A test is practical when it:

  • is not too expensive,
  • stays with appropriate time constraints,
  • is relatively easy to administer, and
  • has a scoring/evaluation procedure that is specific and time efficient.

4. Discriminate:

All assessment is based on comparison, either between one student and another, or between students as they are now and as they were earlier. An important feature of a good test is its capacity to discriminate among the performance of different students or the same student in different points in time. The extent of the need to Discrimination varies according to the purpose of the test.

5. Authentic:

Authenticity means that the language response that students give in the test is appropriate to the language of communication.  The test items should be related to the usage of the target language.

Other definitions of authenticity are rather similar. The Dictionary of language testing, for instance, states that “a language test is said to be authentic when it mirrors as exactly as possible the content and skills under test”.  It defines authenticity as “the degree to which test materials and test conditions succeed in replicating those in the target situation”.

Authentic tests are an attempt to duplicate as closely as possible the circumstances of real-life situations. A growing commitment to a proficiency-based view of language learning and teaching makes authenticity in language assessment necessary.

In conclusion:

There is criticism toward most classroom language tests showed that they don’t assess students’ language competence or proficiency because most language teachers don’t have the ability to construct tests with the features mentioned above. This lack of ability deserves more attention from both teachers and supervisors.

A teacher should be trained on designing, developing and conducting the language tests that include the above characteristics and the feature of being valuable learning tools.

P.S. If you liked this article, please share it with others using sharing buttons below. And if you are interested in receiving more materials about creative, non-boring ways to teach English, please Follow our Blog via Email.

Assessment Literacy – Information for Teachers Interested in Issues of Language Assessment

Assessment procedures should be used to achieve three main purposes:

  1. Providing end-of-term grading or certification (summative evaluation)
  2. Providing information on the learner’s strengths and weaknesses (formative evaluation)
  3. Helping the teacher and/or learner to plan further work (integrative evaluation)

When assessing learning outcomes, the teacher should be concerned with four main decisions. These decisions relate to the following broad four questions:

  1. What to assess,
  2. When to assess,
  3. How to assess and
  4. How to use the information provided by the assessment process to support learning and to improve one’s own teaching.

Teachers can use tests and examinations to be aware of:

  • The learner’s competence or performance,
  • The student’s knowledge of culture of the native speaker of the language,
  • The ability to use language in realistic contexts.

When designing tests, teachers need to consider:

  • How valid the test is in terms of the aims and objectives of language learning,
  • How reliable the test is in terms of the grading procedures,
  • How practical the test is in terms of designing and administering it.

Ongoing assessment in the classroom is a must to provide a continuous picture of the learner’s ongoing progress and should be used both by the teacher and the learner. There are some important points the teacher should take into account when designing assessment tasks in the classroom. They are as follows:

  • Assessment procedures should be valid and appropriate to learning aims and objectives.
  • In-class activities should be used to monitor and assess learners’ participation and performance.
  • Assessment tasks should aim mainly at identifying strengths and areas for improvement in the learner’s performance.
  • There should be some assessment procedures to assess the learner’s ability to work independently and collaboratively.
  • The process and results of assessment should give helpful information for planning teaching and learning for individuals and groups.
  • Assessment of the learner’s performance and learning progress should be in the form of descriptive evaluation, which should be transparent and comprehensible to the learner, parents and others.
  • Reports, checklists, grades etc. can be used to chart and monitor the learner’s progress.
  • Assessment scales and a valid institutional/national/international grading system should be used in assessing the learner’s performance. Grades assigned for tests and examinations should use reliable and transparent procedures.

When assessing the learner’s language performance, the teacher should assess the learner’s ability to:

  • produce a spoken text according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, fluency, appropriateness of usage, etc.
  • produce a written text according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, cohesion and coherence, etc.
  • understand and interpret a spoken text such as listening for gist, specific or detailed information, implication, etc.
  • understand and interpret a written text such as reading for gist, specific or detailed information, implication, etc.
  • engage in spoken interaction according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy, fluency and conversational strategies.
  • engage in written interaction according to criteria such as content, range, accuracy and appropriateness of response, etc.

When assessing the learner’s awareness of language culture, the teacher should assess the learner’s:

  • knowledge of cultural facts, events etc. of the target language communities.
  • ability to make comparisons between their own and the culture of target language communities.
  • ability to respond and act appropriately in encounters with the target language culture.

When learners make common errors during assessment tasks, the teacher should:

  • analyze these errors and identify the processes that may cause them.
  • provide constructive feedback to learners concerning their errors.
  • deal with errors that occur in class in a way which supports learning processes and communication.
  • deal with errors that occur in spoken and written language in ways which support learning processes and do not undermine confidence and communication.
1 2 3 11