Testing Grammar

What are we trying to MEASURE? “English grammar is chiefly a system of syntax, that decides the order and patterns in which words are arranged into sentences.” (Close, 1982) Why should we test grammar?  Linguistic competence?  Structures or functions?  Usage or use?  Prescriptive or descriptive? How should we test grammar?  Separated from skills?  Discrete items?  Focus on grammar or meaning? What are the most common test items for testing grammar? RECOGNITION  Multiple choice items (Liu, 121)  Error-recognition items (Liu, 129)  True/False (Baxter, 35)  Pairing and matching items point or integrative or communicative

 Cloze/Modified 144) PRODUCTION

Cloze

(Hughes,

 Completion items (Hughes, 143)  Transformation items (Liu, 131)  Paraphrase (Hughes, 143)  Rearrangement  Editing  Combination and addition items  Items involving the changing of words When should we go for grammar recognition? When…  More material needs to be covered.  You want to test different levels of learning.  You have little time for scoring.  You are not interested in evaluating how well a test taker can formulate a correct answer.  You have a large number of test takers. When should we go for grammar production? When…

True/False to formulate a correct  Difficult to test attitudes towards learning  Knowledge is limited to options provided  Difficult to construct at higher levels  Encourages chance)  More than one option may be possible  All options must be grammatically possible guessing (25% Is this sentence true or false? “He works from Monday to Friday”  Does not demonstrate broader knowledge  Difficult to construct in higher levels  Encourages guessing due to 50/50 chance  Difficult to test attitudes toward learning Multiple Choices Gap-Filling John usually ______(work) from Monday to Friday  They must be part of a broader context  More than one option may be possible  First gap may be offered as a sample  Difficult to test attitudes towards learning  Knowledge is limited to options provided  Limitations result in negative backwash  Focus should be on the aspect assessed.  You have more time to score the items  You want to test a person’s ability to apply concepts and information to a new situation. You want to evaluate a person’s ability answer. is working  They can be tricky or too picky .  You have a clear idea of the aspects and concepts that should be tested. works b. worked c. has worked d. John usually ______from Monday to Friday a.

 Some context may be added  Can test student’s IQ rather than Cloze/C-test language proficiency  Difficult for some students (bias) John ______ works ______Monday Sentence Transformation ______Friday  Tests student’s understanding of the whole language  More than one option may be possible  First letter may be offered as a sample  Difficult to test attitudes towards learning  Some words may be impossible to guess  Can test student’s IQ rather than language proficiency  Difficult for some students (bias) Sentence Building Correction/Editing John is a doctor. He ______________ (work)  More than one option may be possible  Clues will limit the answers  Difficult to test attitudes towards learning  Some context may be added  Instructions are essential  Few aspects might be assessed (passive. reported. conditionals…) Friday/usually/to/John/Monday/work  Tests production  More than one option may be possible  Capital letters and punctuation may interfere in the production of the answer  Difficult to test attitudes towards learning recognition and/or John usually working from Monday to Friday  Tests recognition of mistakes  Can also test production through corrections  More than one correction may be possible  Mistakes must be grammatically possible . comparatives.

(enough grammar knowledge) . and then cut each sentence in half.  Testing if a student can make sentences  Accuracy which can help him/her communicate well.  Testing students’ ability of making  Accuracy  The transformation of students’ sentences sentences.  A student tries to describe the picture to other students who haven’t seen it.  Accuracy Strip Story  Give students a text from a Memory Test strip story. Ask students to come out sentences from the pictures or ask them to tell a story.  Give limited time for students to see the picture. Good backwash  Context is essential Split Sentences  Write out some sentences. Ask them to find the order and resolve the problem from the story. Ask them to describe the picture without seeing it.  Students’ abilities in combing sentences  Grammar knowledge to all forms of the sentences Picture Dictation Sentences from pictures  Hand out a sheet of pictures. Place the two halves in two separate columns and ask students to find the matching half.  Enough grammar knowledge to make sentences by students.

The test taker must be able “to produce . He or she must have to focus on meaning and not form to answer correctly. Recognize is not sufficient.)  Accuracy Growing Stories  Story-building activities  Students’ ability of making sentences with different Miming an action tenses Five characteristics to measure communicative grammar 1. 4. 2. Dickins) Therefore  Have the test taker say or write something of discourse length in order to perform some communicative task for a known audience.  Accuracy  Ask students to role play in a limited situation. 5. it can test students’ ability of thinking of lines. (which may contains different tenses. He or she should also know who the intended audience is.  What is said or written must make sense. grammatical responses. The test taker should understand what the communicative purpose of the task is. 3. See if students can find the time order from the tenses of the sentences.  Through acting.” (R. The test must provide more context than only a single sentence.

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