12 Characteristics of a Good Language 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.


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1-min Eltt guide – How Can You Manage Hyperactive Students?

Hyperactive students struggle to focus and stay organized. Many students, mostly primary ones are hyperactive. They need special attention from teachers to control them and help them understand the lessons. In case some students showed hyperactivity in my classroom I would:

* Great them by their names and create some time to speak to them individually.

* Build strong relationship with them by asking about their personal life, hobbies, activities, health and emotions.

* Praise them, if they did good things to make them feel emotionally safe in the classroom.

* Reinforce their appropriate behavior by giving them stars or gifts or by displaying their photographs on the class board.

* Tell their mistakes indirectly by asking them or the class: “Is that good or bad behavior?”

* Specify some time during the class for movement or doing some physical actions and encourage them to participate.

* Let them sit in the front rows to help them get the maximum concentration.

* Divide the big tasks for them into small steps making sure that they completed the first step before going on to the second one.

* Communicate with their parents and the psychological specialist at school asking for more information about them to use to improve their learning level.


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The Eight Tips That Will Help Students Do Homework Without Stress

Teachers usually evaluate their students with homework as it indicates to the effect of their effort in class, but some students get stressed when it’s time to doing homework.

  • Diagnose the problem:

Examine why your students can’t do their homework. Do they just ignore it for no reason or there is a certain problem with them or with the homework itself. Be aware of the problem and then try to deal with it as quickly as possible.

  • Reassure your students:

If your students feel fear or angry or has any difficulty with homework, it is necessary to start helping them overcome any negative feelings and solve related problems. Try your best to reassure them telling “it is normal to feel that, but with practicing you will do better”. Then, you should think of rewarding those who have done homework with success, as it will increase their self-confidence and link doing homework with pleasing feelings within them.

  • Simplify the task:

Help your students by simplifying what they should do. You can also simplify the lesson by using programs or videos from the Internet to help them understand the difficult points.

Moreover, you should talk with your students using the following eight tips to help them do their homework without stress.

1. Understand well what exactly you should do:

You may struggle with doing your homework because you didn’t understand what you should do, so first you should write down what exactly you should do on your notebook, and don’t feel afraid of asking your teacher to explain what your assignment is .

2. Start as soon as you can:

Even it is called (homework) it doesn’t mean that you should wait till you go back home to do it, but you can do it in any free time you have, may be in school, and remember by this method you will have much time at night and you will never feel stressed .

3. Make a homework plan

Write down the assignments you should do every day and determine certain time for each assignment, and adhere to time you dedicate for each one.

4. Choose a suitable place

It is very important to choose suitable place for doing your homework away from any noise that may interrupt you so that you will focus and complete your homework in less time.

5. Choose the best time for doing homework during the day:

Doing homework should not be after the school directly as some prefer, but you should have some time of rest after the school and before performing your homework. After getting back from school, have your lunch and take a short nap, then start doing your homework with a fresh mind.

6. Ask for help:

You may struggle with some issues when doing your homework. Don’t hesitate to ask for help from one of your classmates or your family, or you may need to hire a tutor.

7. Follow good techniques:

To do your homework easier, follow good techniques that should begin in your classroom such as listening to your teacher while explaining the lesson and taking notes to remember what the teacher said. It is very important to write your notes with clear font and keep them organized. These things will make doing homework easier for you.

8. Take a break:

The maximum time everyone can concentrate continuously is 45 minutes, so try to take a short break after each 45 minutes to be active and alert during doing your next homework assignment.

  • Warning For Parents:

Don’t solve your child’s homework without his/her own contribution. The rule is “children must do their homework by themselves” even if they struggle or do some mistakes. They will do better by more and more practice, but if you did the homework for your child without the least of his/her contribution, he/she would miss important opportunity to study and learn.


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One-Minute Eltt guide – Common EFL Interview Questions & Answers

Peace Be Upon You,

As an EFL teacher, you may have an interview on your schedule soon, either for promotion or for getting a new job in your career.

So, you should take the time to prepare yourself in advance practicing interview questions and answers.

That’s why I’ve decided to publish the “1-min Eltt guide”, question-answer series of posts

https://goo.gl/yuuBgH

which aim at helping you be ready to answer any TEFL specific interview questions and provide you with the knowledge, skills and qualities needed to perform your job more effectively as well.

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1-min Eltt guide – How Can You Handle New Words in a Reading Text?

You can handle new words in a reading exercise in one of the following three ways:

1. Get the new and key words out of the reading text and present their meanings in the pre-reading stage.

2. Let the students read the text and underline or highlight the new words or the words they don’t know, and then work on the meaning of individual words afterwards perhaps while reading aloud to the students. 

In the previous first two cases the teacher should beware of wasting time on words that can just be ignored.

3. Don’t deal with vocabulary at all so that students read with relative fluency and get an overview of the text.

Even native speakers encounter words they’re unfamiliar with and may not look them up if they’re still able to understand what they’re reading.


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See How Easily You Can Use Process Approach to Teaching Writing Inside the Classroom

There are two main approaches to teaching and practicing writing inside the classroom; process and product writing. In teaching writing we focus either on the product of the writing activity or on writing process itself. When concentrating on the product we are only interested in the aim of the writing task which is ultimately having a written text which is called the end product but when we focus on writing as a process, we pay more attention to the various stages that any piece of writing should go through. Simply, when teaching writing using process approach we aim at developing students’ skills that should be employed when they write such as drafting, editing, redrafting and finally publishing their work. In this approach we ask students to consider some procedures and spend time in some phases to get a good piece of work at last.

Process approach to writing consists of the following stages:

1. Brainstorming:

With the help of brainstorming, the writing task should start. In this stage students should think about the topic given. This may be done as whole-class activity or in groups so that students benefit from each other. In this stage the teacher elicits the ideas from students and writes each one on the board without eliminating any. The ideas can be put in linear order or in mind map.

2. Organizing stage:

Once the ideas are put randomly on the board, it is now the time to eliminate some and organize the rest of them. Ideas can be organized as main support, minor support and examples. While organizing, it is normal for students with the teacher to add or delete information. Actually keeping adding and deleting is the main characteristic of this approach until we reach the final product.

3. Writing the first draft:

After organizing the ideas, students start writing their essays. They may change the order or rearrange the main supports or the minor supports. It is a myth that people can write a perfect essay from the first time. There is always a mistake either in the organization or in the grammar or in the word/form choice. This leads us to the following stages; editing and proof reading.

The difference between editing and proof reading is that editing refers to “what you write” whereas proof-reading refers to “how to write”. This distinction is very important in process writing since we should focus on only one thing to correct at a time. It is not advised to correct the organization mistakes and the grammar mistakes at the same time. Students might get confused and not be able to correct all the mistakes. It is also hard for the teacher to correct everything at the same time.  It is logical to start dealing with the organization of the ideas and content (editing) since the sentences may change because of the feedback.

4. Editing:

As mentioned before editing deals with “what you write”. So in this stage the teacher gives the students feedback to look at the content and the organization of ideas. The teacher gives students some questions asking them to revise their essays and edit them to include the following basic features:

  1. Is there a main idea? Is it clear?
  2. Is the introduction interesting for the reader?
  3. Do the paragraphs develop naturally? Are they relevant to the main idea?
  4. Are the ideas supported well? Are there enough examples/details?
  5. Are the transitions chosen correctly and in the right place?
  6. Is there a conclusion? Does it have a summary?

Then students should edit their essays to add examples, support the main idea, add a summary and delete redundancy.

Once the content and the organization of ideas satisfy the students, then they write a second draft and make it ready for proof-reading.

5. Proof-reading:

As mentioned before proof-reading deals with “how you write”. In this stage the piece of writing is checked for any spelling, punctuation and grammar mistakes. To be more precise the teacher should check and look for the following:

  1. Any sentence fragments and run-on sentences.
  2. References without pronouns.
  3. Redundancy of ideas.
  4. Spelling mistakes.
  5. Repetition of the same words.
  6. Punctuation mistakes.
  7. Wrong tense choice.
  8. Misused modifiers.
  9. Style inappropriate for the audience.

6. Publishing the final product:

The student should make the necessary changes in his/her piece of writing after receiving the proof-reading feedback and then write the essay again as the last version.

This means that the same essay needs to be written at least 3 times; first draft, second draft after editing and the final product after proof-reading.


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1-min Eltt guide – Why do We Use Games in EFL Class

We use games because:

  • When the element of competition is introduced, tension is lowered by the urge to win.
  • In a game scenario, students are motivated to use English because they are given a compelling reason to do so. To further their desire to use English, we tempt our students with a prize, which can only be won if all the rules are followed.
  • When students play games in the classroom, they feel fun and pleasure, and a positive attitude toward English language teaching is created withing them. This kind of attitude can result in intrinsic motivation which can accelerate their learning of the language.

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ESL vs. EFL in Learning and Teaching

There’s a difference when learning & teaching English as a second language (ESL), and learning & teaching English as a foreign language (EFL).

Learning ESL versus learning EFL:

In learning ESL, the learner is learning English within an English environment. In this case, English is spoken outside the classroom. The learner here learns English to understand and speak it outside the classroom. The situation is different in EFL learning, the learner learns English inside a classroom, but continues to speak her/his own language when leaving the classroom.

An example of an ESL situation is a Japanese boy who immigrates with his family to America; he speaks Japanese at home with his parents, but during the rest of the day and at school, he must speak English. He needs to learn enough English to be able to keep up with his schoolwork and communicate well with his schoolmates.

On the other hand, the Egyptian girl learning English in an Egyptian school learns English as a foreign language. She must understand and speak English only during her English lessons – perhaps 3 times a week. The rest of her day in school and at home, she will speak her own language. It doesn’t matter if she doesn’t know much English or if she learns slowly; this will not affect her day-to-day life in and out of school as it would for the Japanese boy.

Teaching ESL versus teaching EFL:

Teaching ESL is different from teaching EFL. This difference influences the content and methods used to teach English language.

At ESL Schools, students learn:

* General English that helps them feel comfortable in school and communicate well with their new friends.

* Most importantly, they are also taught the kind of English language and skills that will help them to be successful in their other classes, history, mathematics etc. which are all in English. This is typical of most programs in ESL situations.

In many EFL classes on the other hand:

* English is often taught in a traditional way; i.e. based on step-by-step learning of a number of grammatical structures in a graded order of difficulty.

* As the learner has to master the language in his class and has no chances to practice English outside his class, the methods and techniques chosen should allow him/her to use the language both fluently and accurately. These techniques should ensure maximum exposure to the language

ESL teacher versus EFL teacher:

The difference mentioned above between teaching (ESL) and (EFL) requires the teacher to approach English classes differently.

* In ESL setting, the teacher should focus on personal reasons to learn English. Whether students want to learn English to communicate with a variety of people from other countries or they want to learn the language for professional reasons, perhaps to get a better job. The teacher, then, can choose the suitable approach to teach the language according to each reason.

* By contrast, many of EFL students lack the opportunity to experience English in their daily lives. They may be required to study English for a test or because it is a compulsory part of the curriculum. In addition, EFL settings often involve large classes and limited contact hours, which makes learning English a challenge for students.  And although they may want to learn English for the same reasons as those of ESL students, their motivation level can be low since English is not part of their daily lives and the English course simply does not offer enough exposure to the language. Consequently, the EFL teacher should try his/her best to overcome these challenges and expose students to as much authentic English as possible. In addition, he/she should create real-life situations for students to practice the items of English.

Selecting ESL classroom activities:

Information gap activities are ideal in ESL classroom as the students come from different countries. Some students have information that others miss. Information gap activities can be a variety of question-and-answer and discussion activities about the students’ countries. They can also do presentations to teach classmates about their culture. Students are often quite eager to participate in such presentations. In fluency practice activities, the teacher can rest assured that the students will not resort to their native language because they speak to students who do not understand their language. Task-based problem-solving activities are also useful in this case because they engage the learners linguistically and cognitively and require them to negotiate a solution entirely in English. This classroom scenario also gives the teacher an opportunity to sometimes focus more intensively on accuracy in speaking because many of the students have good opportunities for English fluency practice outside of the class.

Selecting EFL classroom activities:

In an EFL context, the teacher must deal with the fact that the students are probably not receiving any significant exposure to English outside of the classroom. Because of this lack of opportunity to speak English, teachers need to maximize fluency practice, getting the students to use the language as much as possible in class and reducing emphasis on accuracy. To achieve these goals, teachers need to select suitable speaking activities to ensure that students will use English. Activities that lack structure or which fail to generate student interest will lead most students to abandon English. Also, an activity that is interesting but too cognitively challenging to manage in English will cause most students to resort to their native language.

Criteria for selecting EFL classroom activities:

The best activities that encourage students in EFL classroom to produce English ought to:

  • have a clear, measurable and suitable objective.
  • achieve progress in English use.
  • easy to manage in English.
  • be interesting to the students.

EFL teachers should integrate fun with work by carefully designing activities to achieve the specified instructional objectives. This includes setting a time limit, clarifying the rules, sometimes giving prizes, and generating enthusiasm to play and use English in communicative situations.


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What Every EFL Teacher Ought to Know About Lesson Planning

What is a lesson plan?

A lesson plan is a framework for a lesson. If you imagine a lesson is like a journey, then the lesson plan is the map. It shows you where you start, where you finish and the route to take to get there. Essentially the lesson plan sets out what the teacher hopes to achieve over the course of the lesson and how he or she hopes to achieve it. Whatever the level of experience, it is important that all teachers take time to think through their lessons before they enter the classroom and write clear notes about what they will do through each lesson.

Why is lesson planning important?

One of the most important reasons to plan is that the teacher needs to identify his or her objectives for the lesson. Teachers need to know what it is they want their students to be able to do at the end of the lesson that they couldn’t do before. Here are some more reasons for lesson planning to be important:

* gives the teacher the opportunity to predict possible problems and therefore consider solutions.

* makes sure that the lesson is balanced and appropriate for class.

* gives teacher confidence.

* it is generally good practice and a sign of professionalism.

What are the principles of lesson planning?

* Objectives – considering realistic goals for the lesson, not too easy but not too difficult. You may find the following checklist useful:

  1. What do the students know already?
  2. What do the students need to know?
  3. What did you do with the students in the previous class?
  4. How well do the class work together?
  5. How motivated are the students?

* Variety – an important way of getting and keeping the students engaged and interested.

* Flexibility – expect the unexpected! Things don’t always go to plan in most lessons. Experienced teachers have the ability to cope when things go wrong. It’s useful when planning to build in some extra and alternative tasks and exercises. Also teachers need to be aware of what is happening in the classroom. Students may raise an interesting point and discussions could provide unexpected opportunities for language work and practice. In these cases it can be appropriate to branch away from the plan.

Effective lesson planning is the basis of effective teaching. A plan is a guide for the teacher as to where to go and how to get there. However – don’t let the plan dominate – be flexible in your planning so that when the opportunities arise you can go with the flow.

What are the three main elements of English lesson planning?

When thinking about planning an English lesson it is useful to keep in mind three elements: EngageStudyActivate

Engage
This means getting the students interested in the class. Engaging students is important for the learning process.

Study
Every lesson usually needs to have some kind of language focus. The study element of a lesson could be a focus on any aspect of the language, such as grammar or vocabulary and pronunciation. A study stage could also cover revision and extension of previously taught material.

 Activate
Telling students about the language is not really enough to help them learn it. For students to develop their use of English they need to have a chance to produce it. In the activate stage the students are given tasks which require them to use not only the language they are studying that day, but also other language that they have learnt.

And here’s the Five-Stage EFL Lesson Plan

If you want to plan your EFL lesson, follow the following five stages:

*First, set the instructional objectives.

These are what you expect your students will do by the end of the lesson.
Here is the instructional objective statement
By the end of the lesson; students will be able to
pronounce … correctly
write …. correctly
identify …
apply rules of certain structure
put certain words in sentences
change from active into passive
report certain sentences
compare two things or more
read a text fluently
answer some given questions
use a model composition for writing another
match words with …
distinguish elements
list …
classify …
contrast …
differentiate …

The above verbs are clear observable and measurable

*The second stage is warm-up 5 minuets
Teacher revises the previous lesson.
Teacher checks the homework.
Teacher corrects common mistakes.

*The third stage is presentation 15 minuets
In this stage the teacher presents his/her lesson through situations.
The teacher in this stage is the informant and the student tries to understand.
The teacher writes the steps of what he/she does in this stage.

*The fourth stage is practice 15 minutes
In this stage the teacher writes what the students do for example answering exercises.
The teacher in this stage works as a conductor.
The work is done by the students.

*The fifth stage is assessment 10 minutes
This is the findings of the lesson.
It is the effects of the teacher on his/her students.
It is the achievement of the students.
Teacher checks their learning according to the instructional objectives.
Here, the teacher will see whether he/she has achieved what he/she has expected or not. If he failed he/she should reteach the lesson in different technique.

Lesson Planning Basics:

* Know your school – What room are you in? – This may influence what kind of activity you can do. What materials and equipment can you use in class? What is the syllabus of the course? – And so on.

* Know your students – Base your materials and activities around the needs and character of your group.

* Know your subject – If it’s a grammar point, make sure you understand how that language is used and formed – If it’s vocabulary, check pronunciation and spelling and so on.

* Have clear aims – Set realistic and appropriate for your class.

* Engage your students – Keep the students motivated, warmed up and engaged.

* Involve the students in the process – Try to give them as much time using the language as possible. Personalize language work so they can use English for describing their own lives. Elicit where possible, don’t lecture. Always assess their learning and give them effective feedback.


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Why You Should Read Aloud to Your Primary Students

Reading aloud is an important component of the primary level English lesson. The teacher usually reads aloud stories or conversations while the students listen or follow in their books. When you read aloud to your students, you help them to find pleasure and enjoyment in the new language, promote their understanding and encourage them to read independently. Here are the main five advantages of teacher reading aloud in the primary classroom.

1. Reading aloud provides a reading model:

It is essential that the students at the elementary level hear a model of correct pronunciation, stress, and intonation. You can encourage students to point to the words as you read aloud. In this way, you model the reading process and promote development of print concepts, the alphabetic principle, phonic knowledge and sight vocabulary. Reading aloud fiction is powerful as it engages students’ imaginations and attention, gives them experience with stories from other cultures, helps them to learn how various kinds of literature are organized, and motivates them to read further in the new language.

2. Reading aloud enriches students’ vocabulary:

Reading aloud in EFL class can expose students to a wider range of vocabulary. The teacher can add synonymous and antonymous for vocabulary found in their textbooks. Students’ vocabulary improves when the teacher reads folk tales from their own and other cultures, fairy tales, fables, and non-fiction material about the world around them. The illustrations in these stories help students to make guesses about unknown vocabulary. Talking about the story afterwards engages students in using this new vocabulary in a natural way.

The amount of vocabulary, language acquisition and students’ oral language proficiency in English are all developed in the classroom when the teacher reads aloud to students in rich environment surrounded by pictures, gestures and other explanatory and visual aids.

3. Reading aloud establishes the reading-writing connection:

Reading aloud can lead the learners to understand the many purposes of the printed word: to inform, to persuade, to entertain. In this way, the teacher involves students in the various functions of print. In addition, it can reinforce the visual image of the target vocabulary during the early stages of reading. When reading fiction aloud, we encourage students to enter into the meaning-making process which is the essence of reading.

4. Reading aloud improves listening comprehension:

The purpose of reading aloud in the elementary stage is to facilitate comprehension for beginning English language learners so that they may enjoy the language. Young learners enjoy listening to stories. Reading aloud attracts students’ attention. You can help your students listen and comprehend by stopping at certain places in the book to discuss a picture as it relates to the story or to review the plot. You may also focus comprehension by asking prediction questions as you go along. Don’t be afraid to read stories more than once. Students learn from and enjoy the repetition.

5. Reading aloud promotes joy during the language lesson:

When the teacher reads a story aloud, students get into a magical world. They are removed from their everyday lives to different places and different times. They are introduced to characters who are larger than life and to opportunities to experience adventure and magic. Here are more five advantages of reading aloud to your primary students especially stories.

  • Reading stories aloud helps students to cope with their own emotions and to feel that they are a part of the world
  • Reading stories aloud makes concepts vivid and clear by illustrating them rather than simply explaining
  • Reading stories aloud can help the lesson be alive for
  • Reading stories aloud will motivate students to try to understand the new
  • Reading stories aloud can enhance your students’ imagination & ability to speak well.

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