16 Recommendations for Preparing a Good Test

1- Determine the purpose of the test.

2- Define the content area to be tested.

3- Choose and prepare appropriate and relevant items for the test.

4- Build your questions to match your pupils’ ability.

5- The amount of questions should suit the allotted time.

6- Printing should be clear. No handwritten exams.

7- Instructions should be clear and in understandable terms.

8- Arrange items from easiest to most difficult to reduce stress and encourage less able pupils to answer ( Gradation of questions).

9- No ambiguous questions. Avoid ambiguity and deluding words.

10- Questions should include different parts of the syllabus and not focus on certain lessons.

11- Accurate grading is very important.

12- Model answers should be written on a separate sample of the test paper.

13- All acceptable or possible answers should be included or written in the model answers.

14- Test different aspects ( reasoning / observation / comprehending / deducing ).

15- Test cognitive, affective and psychomotor skills that are included in the units.

16- Involve varied questions ( objective / subjective ).

18 Tips to be an Effective Teacher of EL

How to be an effective English language teacher? Keep the following pieces of advice in your mind to realize your desire.

1. Be enthusiastic! Don’t do it just for the money.

Students appreciate the teacher who shows genuine interest in teaching. Teachers who are not, they should consider moving on to another profession.

2. Show interest in the students as individuals.

Treat students as individuals, not subjects. Don’t belittle them; listen and talk to them. Only in this way will true communication take place.

3. Allow time for free communication.

For speaking this would mean allowing time for free conversation, for writing; doing free writing, for reading; allowing time for extensive pleasure reading, and for listening; listening for entertainment sake.

4. Use humor to activate the class.

Make it a habit to get the students to laugh at least once per lesson.

5. Circulate.

Move around the classroom. Sit with groups and monitor, Take part in the communication. Walk about, listen and observe.

6. Make your instructions short and clear.

Demonstrate rather than explain whenever possible.

7. Speak up, but don’t break anyone’s eardrum.

You should be heard and comprehended without annoying students.

8. Don’t talk too much.

Depending on the subject, you should be talking from about 5% to 30% of the lesson. Most lessons should be student-centered, not teacher-centered.

9. Don’t talk too slow.

How do you expect your students to understand real English if you don’t speak at a fairly natural speed? Oversimplified and affected speech will hurt your students in the long run.

10. Be sensitive to your students.

Watch their faces and reactions. Do they understand you? Are they interested or bored? Try to be aware of what is going on in your classroom at all times. If you are starting class and one student is still talking, try to gently get him/her to stop. If you are sitting with a group of students on one side of the room, try to be attentive to what is happening in other groups as well. There may be a group across the room that is confused and doesn’t know what to do.

11. Respect both “slow” and “fast” learners.

Language learning is not about intelligence; the important thing to stress is that the students are improving.

12. Don’t lose your cool.

If you do, you will lose respect. Even if you have to leave the classroom, do it in a controlled manner, explaining to the class or students why you are unhappy with them.

13. Be frank.

Praise your students when they are getting better and encourage them when they are not doing as well as they can.

14. Be a coach.

Some times you must be a coach more than a teacher. Push the students to write those few extra lines, to get into their groups faster, to extend their conversations, ….. etc.

15. Be fair and realistic in testing.

Teach first and then test; don’t test things that haven’t been taught. Also, remember that the main purpose of language is communication.

16. Don’t overcorrect.

If you think a student can correct their own mistake, don’t supply the correction for them, rather allow for some self-monitoring. Remember, some mistakes can be kept uncorrected if you are for fluency.

17. Be reflective.

Think about your own teaching. After each lesson is over take some time to reflect. Was the lesson effective? What were the good and bad points? How could it be improved?

18. Keep in shape.

Renew and update your knowledge about teaching from time to another. Look at new course books and teacher training books to get new ideas. Share your ideas with colleagues. Go to conferences.

12 Characteristics of a Good Test

A good test should be:

1- Valid:

It means that it measures what it is supposed to measure. It tests what it ought to test. A good test which measures control of grammar should have no difficult lexical items.

2- Reliable:

If it is taken again by ( same students, same conditions ), the score will be almost the same regarding that the time between the test and the retest is of reasonable length. If it is given twice to same students under the same circumstances, it will produce almost the same results. In this case it is said that the test provides consistency in measuring the items being evaluated.

3- Practical:

It is easy to be conducted, easy to score without wasting too much time or effort.

4- Comprehensive:

It covers all the items that have been taught or studied. It includes items from different areas of the material assigned for the test so as to check accurately the amount of students’ knowledge

5- Relevant:

It measures reasonably well the achievement of the desired objectives.

6- Balanced:

It tests linguistic as well as communicative competence and it reflects the real command of the language. It tests also appropriateness and accuracy.

7- Appropriate in difficulty:

It is neither too hard nor too easy. Questions should be progressive in difficulty to reduce stress and tension

8- Clear:

Questions and instructions should be clear. Pupils should know what to do exactly.

9- Authentic:

The language of the test should reflect everyday discourse

10- Appropriate for time:

A good test should be appropriate in length for the allotted time.

11- Objective:

If it is marked by different teachers, the score will be the same. Marking process should not be affected by the teacher’s personality. Questions and answers are so clear and definite that the marker would give the students the score he/she deserves.

12- Economical:

It makes the best use of the teacher’s limited time for preparing and grading and it makes the best use of the pupil’s assigned time for answering all items. So, we can say that oral exams in classes of +30 students are not economical as it requires too much time and effort to be conducted.

Five main stages for a lesson plan

1- Setting objectives:

Write what you expect your students will do by the end of the lesson  e.g. by the end of the lesson, students will be able to ” pronounce, identify, put words in sentences, change into passive, compare, answer, use, match, …. etc ” or any verbs that can be observable and measurable in the classroom.

2- Warm up:  

Revise the previous lesson, check homework orally, correct common mistakes,  … etc or any other activity that can activate students and prepare them to receive the new material.

3- Presentation:

Present the new material using the suitable techniques, write the procedures that you will follow to explain the new material.

4- Practice:

It is the work done by the students whether it is controlled, guided, or free. Students answer some exercises based on the material presented. These exercises are often there on the set book.

5- Assessment:

Write some sentences on the board or distribute printed papers to see whether the objectives were achieved or not and to check whether students learned or not according to the objectives. If not, you should reteach the lesson using different techniques.

The Importance of Testing During EL Course

There are many good reasons for testing during English language course. We usually conduct a test for one or more of the following:

1- Collecting information about where students are in their learning to decide what should be covered next.

2- Deciding whether teaching is effective or not ( Assessment of teaching )

3- Highlighting what needs to be reviewed. ( Which parts need to be revised )

4- Giving pupils a sense of achievement ( What they know / What they should know )

5- Giving pupils a learning opportunity after what have been done ( The test is a review in itself )

6- Assessing pupils’ strengths and weaknesses indicating which skills pupils are good at and which ones they need more practice on.

7- Giving feedback to parents, other teachers, the school, the principal …… to all who matter.

8- Discovering what pupils have already learned and what they still need to learn.

9- Deciding what to teach next and which methods should be used.

13 steps to teach the short story

1- Introduce the title and the author. 

2- Introduce the characters and the names of places.

3- Point out the glossary and how it is organized & how to use it.

4- Assign pages for quick, silent reading at home.

5- Start the reading lesson by asking pupils to look at pictures in these pages & asking some warm up questions.

6- Present the meanings of the key words in these pages.

7- Put one or more Pre-question for each page.

8- Ask pupils to read without knowing every word to answer the pre-question.  

9- Discuss the answers with pupils

10- Put more questions about details & ask pupils to read again to answer

11- Discuss the answers

12- Ask pupils about what they expect may happen next.

13- Give three questions to be answered at home to encourage pupils to read the next assigned part. 

About Questions

1- Tackle the same types and number included in the specifications of the exam.

2- Ask most questions orally; write only 2 or 3 on the board of the most importance.

3- Give 3 questions to be answered at home on what have been read and on the next assigned part of reading.

Eight Things You Should Do to Improve Your ELT

1- Asses your students’ prior knowledge and skills:

Sometimes students know more than we think they do. Sometimes they have misconceptions about the content. The only way to know what information that students bring to a course is to test them to collect information that reveals their current levels of knowledge and understanding. That information is very important to precise the information of the subject matter being studied you should focus on and the suitable methods of TESL you should use.

2- Don’t assume that students know how to learn:

Students must have an idea about appropriate learning strategies and made aware of the strategies that they use. It’s your job to help them know that.

3- Discover and address attitudes and emotions that hinder learning:

Teachers must acknowledge that learning, motivation and engagement are affected by attitudes and emotions. What students believe about themselves and about the subject matter being studied affect their motivation and performance. If teachers ignore the role of attitudes and emotions, that will affect learning outcomes.

4- Design your lessons in the way that connect to your students’ personal and academic goals:

That will enhance motivation and engagement. Students need to see how what they are being asked to learn is relevant to their goals and future plans. Knowing what students care about makes it possible to plan lessons that connect with students and engage them in learning.

5- Examine your students’ views about education and considering how those views influence their learning experiences:

Students come to school with different beliefs about knowledge and have different expectations of their teachers. Students are diverse. They have different cultural backgrounds. Again, knowing what students believe and expect makes it easier to plan meaningful learning experiences.

6- Treat students as apprentices who need assistance in learning the language, ways of thinking and inquiry methods:

Students need to be taught and must be given the opportunity to make connections between the course content and their own experiences.

7- Challenge students:

You need to do that to apply, integrate, evaluate and construct knowledge. You can do that by engaging students in complex problem-solving activities. Students should not only be knowledge consumer but also be knowledge producer.

8- Learn about learning:

Discuss with your colleagues the best ways of students’ learning and how knowledge about students’ learning can be used in lesson planning.

Eight Activities for the First Day of School

If you are looking for some fun activities for the opening days of school – activities that help you get to know your students and to help them get to know you, check out the following suggestions.

1- True or False?

Write four facts about yourself on the board. Three of them are true, and one is false. Ask students some questions to see what they thought about each statement. That gives you chance to tell a little about yourself. Then, on a sheet of paper, students write three interesting facts about themselves that are true and one that is false. Ask them one by one to read the facts, and ask students what they think about each statement. That gives a chance for students to know more information about each other.

2- Already a Test!

After students sit and you take roll, ask them to take out a sheet of paper and a pen or pencil for their first test of the school year. Ask them to title the test ” My English Teacher ” and ask them to answer all questions which you write on the board. The questions might include:

Where was I born? Am I married or single? How many sons or/and daughters do I have? How old am I? What is my favourite colour? ….. etc. The test can be as long or short as you wish. Make the questions fit the things you would want them to know. At the end of the test, give the right answers. One of the favourite things in this activity is to see a student or more who were in your class the previous year. They always think they will get a full mark in this test, it is your job to let them not to do so.

3- Going in a circle:

Arrange all the desks in a large circle, with everyone facing the center. This makes it easy for the students to talk and get to know one another. Then ask each student to introduce himself/herself. The students must also provide one fact about themselves. Then ask some questions to encourage students to repeat some information about their classmates.

4- Jump into science:

Invite students to scan the table of contents, which introduces major areas covered in the course. Then start with the first unit asking students to read its title. Ask some questions about it to recognize what students know about the topic or issue, what facts or information they would like to know about it. Discuss, in what ways the topic is relevant to their life. If time allows, do the same with unit two, three, …. etc.

5- Ten questions:

Choose an item in the room, and students have to guess what it is. They can ask only ten questions that you can answer with “Yes” or “No”. The student who finally can guess the item will be the next to choose another item.

6- Who Am I?

Give some students flash cards to write four or five statements about themselves, the last line in each statement is a question: who am I? Put the flash cards on the board and have students guess who each person is.

7- Math about me:

Ask students to write some information about themselves in a sheet of paper but this information must be in numbers, e.g. number of people in the family, number of pets, phone number, ….. etc.

Then, students share their numbers with one another. They see what numbers they have in common with their classmates.

8- Last summer holiday:

Write some activities on some cards, e.g. learned how to swim, read some books, watched some English movies, bought a pet, …..etc. Then asking students who did each activity. Have students repeat the sentence and ask some questions to collect more information about each activity, e.g. what movies did you watch? Where did you learn to swim? ….. etc. This is a great way to learn special things about your students and encourage them to use the past simple tense focusing on the irregular past form.

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