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testee knows or can do something”. Penny Ur, 2006:33. Being testing an essential part of both the teaching and learning situations it is necessary to be informed about learners’ level knowledge as well as the achievement of learning goals stated for this reason teachers need to develop tests at any point of the language learning situation or at the end of the certain period of training. “Classroom-based assessments are seen as helpful because they give a more immediate measure of progress and achievement of students, guide and improve instruction, and diagnose student knowledge of a topic”. (Hurley & Tinajero, 2001; Short, 1993): 2006: 408 Tests also enable teachers and students to assess the degree of success of the teaching and learning processes and to identify areas of weaknesses and difficulties. Tests also give valuable information in order to review or make changes if it is necessary. Besides, through testing learners are required to demonstrate their ability to deal with the target language by showing a clear understanding of what they were expected to learn and understand as well … “Informal or classroom tests should have high utility, telling both the learner and the teacher where problems exist”. Richard Frost, British Council, Turkey in his article Testing and Assessment says: “Tests are also a learning opportunity after they have been taken. The feedback after a test can be invaluable in helping a student to understand something she couldn't do during the test. Thus the test is a review in itself “. Moreover, apart from providing feedback to both, the teacher and the students, assessment is used in order to assign a grade as well. In addition, assessment is a useful tool in providing continuous information to improve both the teaching and learning processes and make changes where it is necessary. J. Charles Anderson in his book Assessing Reading points out: “The corollary is that we need to look to theory in order to have some idea of what it is we are trying to test. Another approach to test design seems possible, and indeed more practical, and that is,
Bachman. On the other hand. Bachman posits: “the content of language tests can be based on either a theory of language proficiency or a specific domain of content. “the achievement test serves two purposes: determining progress and diagnosis student weaknesses”. 2005:2. to begin with target situation language use”. the Chilean Educational Program states that the ‘Fundamental Objectives’ are the following: •To understand authentic written texts in order to gain general and specific information and to infer the meaning. L (1990). it is relevant to refer to the curricular framework of the Chilean National Reform under which the learning context is situated. referring to the content area. to come to conclusions and demonstrate comprehension of them.authentic texts spoken at a normal speed by a native speaker or multimedia. linguistic contents should be according to the kinds of texts type chosen and topics as well. adverbs. generally as provided in a course syllabus. present simple. past simple and present perfect tenses. In third grade high school level passive voice should be included within content activities. . •To reach a global understanding of a wide variety of oral . (1990: 71). On the other hand. The topic areas and themes should be taken from authentic sources and according to students’ needs and interests. Chile. The program states that students at second high grade level. they will all be achievement tests”. while syllabus-based tests are generally referred to as achievement tests”. At the same time. That is. Besides. which is the previous level of studies of these students states that by the end of the year they are expected to be able to comprehend and use 1300 lexical items which includes contents like nouns. verbs. the communicative purpose. Bachman. L. We can refer to theorybased tests as proficiency tests. Now.rather than starting with a theory. Then he adds …. to make conclusions and to interpret and summarize the embedded message. So as to contextualize the issue in my country. the program also emphasizes the development of language skills as well as the use of the English language as an instrument to access to information and culture. (1990) says: “… the content of such tests should be based on the syllabus rather on a theory of language proficiency.
contextual facts. etc. •To develop a positive attitude towards reading. . open questions.To come up to conclusions. The speaking learning outcomes are as follows: •Students should be able to make questions and give answers using both intelligible pronunciation and intonation. The reading learning outcomes stated in the program are: •Students should be able to show a global and detailed comprehension of the information given by authentic texts with an extension of three sides. linguistic clues in order to infer the communicative function of the texts and of higher complexity. e. gap filling. answering questions orally or written according to the linguistic level. Secondly. as well as to show respect by cultural diversity and the information given by the texts written in the English language. •Students will be able to use strategies and techniques such as: . . talking about their own points of view using both intelligible pronunciation and intonation. •Students should be able to participate in role plays asking and giving information. .•To be able to use the language in communicative situations like asking and giving information and other communicative intentions. . .To get the most relevant information. matching. the assessment instruments should consider a variety of questions with different levels of difficulties. so they should be included in class activities. cloze questions.g.To establish cause and effect as well as condition and – result. the program also states that teachers should develop activities according to the objectives and skills mentioned previously. Besides.To use the text organization. opinions. •Students should be able to participate in role plays applying known models and strategies when facing an unexpected situation. Students should be familiar with those.To locate general and detailed information.
and therefore. more authentic language input according to the program. “…reading is ‘not merely a passive process of extracting meaning from the printed page. considering at the same time skills necessary to read comprehensively as well as prior knowledge and contents already learned by students during the previous levels. Criterion referenced assessments compares students not against each other. 1986: 114). but rather an active and interactive process in which the reader uses knowledge of the language to predict and create meaning based on the text” (McLeod &McLaughlin. Munby (1978) distinguishes the following reading “micro skills”: . Criterion referenced tests measure specified levels of ability or domains of the content knowledge. it is important to consider reading micro skills. Alderson.Thirdly. Fourthly. it is worthily to mention that the topics chosen to design both the reading test and the oral test are of general interest and they are based on the classroom language learning aims for the students’ grade mentioned before and the curricular goals stated in the language teaching syllabi of the Chilean program for this level which theoretical basis are mainly under the Communicative Approach and whose instructional practices should be based on authentic tasks. but with success in performing the task… the ability may refer to some small or large integrative language task. prior knowledge. In addition. Reading Test “The reader’s ability to process printed information is clearly also crucial. and indeed might be said to be the main object of any assessment procedure or test”. the tests are of kind of ‘achievement tests’ since as Bachman points out they integrate syllabus and learning classrooms goals mentioned previously and content knowledge areas treated during a monthly lesson. “Reading is an active process as well as a receptive skill in which not only knowledge is required but also abilities to process the information by means of which the reader interprets a message activating at the same time. 2005: 80. which allows him/her to match information according to previous experiences.
means oral communication in which an individual alternately takes roles of speaker and listener and which includes verbal and no verbal components such as clarifications. while the listener (no less actively) has to decode (interpret the message)”. It is “often spontaneous.speaking is the productive aural/oral skill. conveying meaning. and evolving” (p. It consists of producing systematic verbal utterances to convey meaning. p. 1). intonation and stress.• • • • • • • • • • • • • • Recognizing the script of a language Deducing the meaning and use of unfamiliar lexical items Understanding explicitly stated information Understanding information when not explicitly stated Understanding conceptual meaning Understanding the communicative value of sentences Understanding relation between parts of text through lexical cohesion devices Recognizing indicators in discourse Identifying the main point or important information in discourse Distinguishing the main idea from supporting details Extracting relevant points from a text selectively Using basic reference skills Skimming Scanning to locate specifically required information Alderson:2005:10-11 According to Byrne (1986: 8): “Oral communication is a two way process between speaker and listener where both the speaker and the listener have a positive function to perform … the speaker has to encode the message he wishes to convey in appropriate language. Speaking is “an interactive process of constructing meaning that involves producing and receiving and processing information” (Florez. 1999. 1). (Bailey: 2002:118). open-ended. ‘As Florez (1999) notes. but “it is not completely unpredictable”. requests. “…. rhythm. “Speaking requires that learners not only know how to produce . Speaking.
is the most difficult language skill to assess. diagnostic tests. . why.specific points of language such as grammar. informal and self-assessment. Achievement tests are tests that look back over a longer period of work such as a term and are considered to be an indication of how much the student has assimilated the material. progress tests. achievement tests. Summative assessment refers to assessment usually done at the end of a course and is used to check what the learner has retained. among the macro skills of language. there are different types of tests that vary according to their purpose. on the other hand. proficiency tests. Besides the previously mentioned. summative and formative. pronunciation. and aptitude tests. and in what ways to produce language” (pp. could be backward or forward looking and tries to be as objective as possible. . Diagnostic tests also check the student’s present ability and are used to discover the student’s strengths and weaknesses and to see if some topics need to be taught over. placement tests check the student’s present ability and are used to put him or her in the correct level. It suffices to say that informal assessment is one that is done in normal classroom conditions without interrupting the lesson and self-assessment is done by the student him or herself. (Bailey: 2002: 126). There are three broad categories in assessment: formal. or vocabulary . it has been widely recognized that speaking. is usually applied during the course and is used to evaluate the effectiveness of teaching and provide feedback to the teacher who can then go on and adapt the rest of the course based on the presumed needs of the learners as revealed by this type of assessment. Briefly. on the other hand. It is also important to note that there are two general types of assessment. Formative assessment. but also that they understand when. Progress tests deal with the extent that students have learned a particular element in a . Likewise. is usually administered to many students simultaneously. These are placement tests. Formal assessment. 1–2).
There was low inter and intra-rater reliability since grading was so subjective and the same teacher or more frequently two different teachers would often give a different grade to the same test.shorter period of time and can be used to simultaneously evaluate the effectiveness of teaching. there are aptitude tests that are used to check the ability of a person to develop skills or acquire knowledge. the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. and therefore had problems of reliability since no one. The technique of multiple-choice was introduced and widely used. a student could study the one point that was being tested. a rater was barely necessary at all since machines could grade multiple-choice tests quite effectively. At least the level of inter and intra-rater reliability went up tremendously. Nevertheless the EFL theorists were unhappy once again and this time it was because these tests were just too schematic and not at all integrative. Finally. get a good grade on the exam. Most of the tests were unauthentic but the first generation tests had this problem as well. tests were designed to check how well a learner dominated the different areas of language in isolation one from another (Bachman and Cohen. These tests were often seen as promoting an unauthentic idea of language use. Proficiency tests are tests that check what the students are actually able to do with their language knowledge. 1998). Where the first generation tests realized the complexity of testing language and tried to be integrative. yet be utterly unable to use what he supposedly knew in a real-life exchange. Cheating could be rampant at times. In the case of the second generation tests. As we all know. open ended questions and oral exams that relied on subjective. . almost intuitive marking. have undergone major changes throughout the years. In fact. These tests made use of discrete point testing. There have been three distinct generations of language tests. the second generation tests tried to be as objective as possible. truly correct answer existed to each question. Most of the material was forgotten as soon as the exam finished. Language testing techniques. like so many other things in the EFL field. First generation tests were characterized by the use of essays. Second generation tests were developed to remedy this basic problem.
Unfortunately.14-15) points out that: “The necessity of assessing the practical language skills of foreign students led to a demand for language tests which involved an integrated performance on the part of the language user. there are certain factors that remain unalterable throughout. The content validity refers to how much the test reflects the student’s language needs. pp. Validity is traditionally subdivided into three categories: content. The three main factors of a good test are practicability. reliability is in constant tension with validity. Although language testing has undergone some changes through the generations. A test is . McNamara (2000. and the lack of concern given to authenticity. The construct validity refers to the extent to which the content of the test reflects current theoretical understandings of the skills being tested. if the test it too expensive to make. these language tests tend to include more practical tasks mirroring the real-world settings. For example.Finally. with the widespread adoption of communicative language teaching principles. Finally. The term practicability refers to the actual problems with the administration of the test. In these days. reliability and validity. The discrete point tradition of testing was seen as focusing too exclusively on knowledge of the formal linguistic system for its own sake rather than the way such knowledge is used to achieve communication”. one of the most reliable types of question is multiple-choice. For example. construct validity and criterion-related validity. The reliability of a test is directly linked to the consistency of scoring. therefore. requires too much time to administer or necessitates the use of some machines that the school does not possess. we get to third generation tests. 1996). the criterion-related validity refers to the extent to which the results correlate with other independent measures of ability (Brown. if one is teaching a course to teenagers. it is unpractical and will most likely not be implemented. For a test to be reliable it must be able to provide similar results time and time again. They try to combine the best of the both previous generations in tests that are both pragmatic/authentic and gradable. there is no reason to include business language on the test. open-ended question types. These tests try to remedy both the problem of the over reliance on subjective.
fluency. but that might help on the usage under other circumstances.. an example of this is “fluency” . Again a speaking test might be almost the opposite: language is assessed globally. In these kinds of tests we have items with multiple choices where students must choose a correct answer but they don’t have to “produce” an outcome. Competence and performance: Usage and use: Widdwson distinguished between language use and usage he considered usage to the language we actually use to achieve real communication. lexis. content. lexis. On the other hand a speaking test is a direct assessment test because during the evaluation each student must produce and create with his or her own language possibilities. etc. Objective vs subjective skills This criterion is also different for each test: a written test can be objective assessment if all the students’ answers are evaluated as right or wrong following a test model. language is not a list of different items but it is a whole. And on the contrary the speaking test is usually considered a subjective assessment because its rubric is answered according to the teacher’s criteria. expression.considered to have criterion-related validity if an association can be demonstrated between test results and some external element that is accepted as a reliable measure of the same ability. comprehension etc in different items. Direct/ indirect assessment: An indirect assessment test in language teaching does not consider the use of language. while use is the language knowledge shown out of context. verbs. Discrete point vs integrative assessment Here again each test has different a classification: a written test may be considered a discrete point assessment if it divides language knowledge and assesses a variety of small parts.
However.does fluency mean that the student speaks as a native speaker? Does it mean that the speaker doesn’t make any stop between sentences? Etc. a good rubric and teachers’ experience determines the students success. there is an intention. It is essential that teachers plan their test according to the teaching situation considering at the same time the framework of the national . Receptive and productive skills: Receptive skills such as reading are easy to be marked in an objective way. In a speaking test students might know that if they start their performance with “in my opinion” are answering “Correctly” but if they answer “No way!” or “come on…” they are “wrong”. for this reason the correct use of a rubric. teachers need to make some questions about ‘what’ and ‘how’ to assess. in real life conversations are spontaneous and there is no “better answer” or “easier way of answering”. Backward and forward looking assessment At this point also there is a difference in these tests. Conclusions For teachers one of the most troublesome and challenging area is ‘assessment’ by means of which teachers will make a judgment about how well the students have achieved the learning goals. Contextualized language When we teach English as a second language it is hard to imagine real context. and productive skills such as speaking are almost always assessed subjectively. previously to assess. but the truth is that even in the speaking test we are simulating a conversation but this “conversation” in many cases is an interrogation where students know exactly how they “should” answer however. These kinds of tests are more difficult to mark. The reading test assesses highlights students’ competence on language use and the speaking test stands after the students capacity of using the language.
Furthermore.net/la/010/0268/la0100268. (ed. Here. Online article. BIBLIOGRAPHY Alderson. tests should also be suitable to the student’s needs and abilities and appropriate to their levels. tests should not only assess content knowledge but also students’ skills according to the outcomes stated for the test instrument. Language Testing and Assessment. Charles. tests results will also provide information for managing and improving the teaching and learning process. Zohreh R. (2005). Nanyang Technological University. McCarty Steve: A Team Testing Method for Elementary English Speaking. Routledge.pdf Article: ESL Teachers’ Perceptions and Factors Influencing Their Use of Classroom-Based Reading Assessment Yueming Jia. scoring. Awareness in Reading: EFL Students’ Metacognitive Knowledge of Reading Strategies in an Acquisition-poor Environment. National Institute of Education.html Jun Zhang Lawrence. and establishing a clear criteria for assessing the students.waoe. New York. Finally.org/steve/teamtest. J.requirements. . http://www. In addition. it is worthily to mention what Bachman 1990 points out: “… the most important consideration in the development and use of language tests is the purpose or purposes for which a particular test is intended”. Eslami.). New York. Assessing Reading. On the other hand. http://www. Burlbaw Texas A & M University. Cambridge University Press. (2007). Filcher Glenn and Davidson Fred.multilingual-matters. Singapore. being assessment an integral part of instruction it is necessary that teachers will be well prepared in techniques in order to take best decisions about how to construct the test items. and Lynn M.
Kathleen M.sagepub. http://www. República de Chile: 2000 .stm Article: Measuring Grammatical Complexity:The Gordian Knot.http://brj.pdf Article: Monster Warning to Protect Oceans.pdf •Article: Issues in Teaching Speaking Skills to Adult ESOL Learners. Wayne Rimmer University of Reading. Formación General.edu/art8. What Every Teacher Should Know. Language Learning Strategies. Bailey http://www.ncsall.asu. 12 April 2007. 23.com/cgi/content/abstract/23/4/497 Article: Testing and assessment. Oxford. Reading 2. Mark Norman Thursday. Programa de Estudio Inglés Tercer Año Medio.uk/think/methodology/test. L (1990): “Uses of language Tests” in Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing.net/fileadmin/resources/ann_rev/comings_ch5.shtml#two Bachman. Turkey. (1990). Ministerio de Educación.org.uk/2/hi/science/nature/6549161. Language Testing 2006.co. Richard Frost. Viewpoint.teachingenglish. Heinle and Heinle Publishers.bbc. 497 On line version http://ltj. Rebecca L. British Council.1: 89. http://news.
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