Evaluation and Testing in EFL and ESL Classrooms
Most of us grew up being constantly evaluated by taking a wide variety of tests for all kinds of subjects, all with the goal to show how much you know and how capable are you. Throughout school years teachers evaluate your performance, and your knowledge they based on of on the results from several quizzes, exams, and tests, and commonly based on results they know how to approach each student’s needs, or so they assume that the standardized score is accurate. Growing up you learn whether or not you are a test taker, you will find those who do amazing on tests but do not really pay attention in class, you will also find those who get really nervous and struggle but still do well, and you also find the ones who know all the material and cannot test well. Sadly, when the results come teachers rely on them to its fullest, they use the numbers to make sure students are placed at the levels they belong.
This post was written by our TEFL certification graduate Katherine B. Please note that this blog post might not necessarily represent the beliefs or opinions of ITTT.
The Controversy of The Testing System
There have been many debates in regards to testing because it has been noted that test results are not being evaluated correctly, now when it comes to English learners the process of evaluating tests becomes a bit more tricky because of you may learn the language but that does not mean you will be able to test well, nevertheless, the feedback the teacher receives from the score does not necessarily help to understand where the student stands but it is still used across the border.
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Per our Unit in evaluating, it was exposed in detail the different tests that there are out there for language learners, which I found slightly useless since you can pass a test but does not mean that you are now very fluent, it merely means that you tested well and received a passing score. Despite the fact that is needed I think that for TEFL students there should be an option of how to take the test, some people are better with filling the blank, or multiple choice or others are way better with open-ended questions, so sticking to simply standardize testing should not define whether or not someone is qualified to speak English.
Basing it all to percentages doesn’t seem fully fair to me and according to the unit those exams tend to be more general ones and are set up is very straight forward, therefore, it leaves doubt whether the students are being tested on their knowledge of their English, how are you supposed to differentiate what exactly was the issue.
I believe that for some people knowing that an assessment will be required in order to move on forward it might cut off the intentions of even learning English, if requirements are too sticks and evaluators are very inflexible, this too will cause a bit of concern whether or not one should continue. Furthermore, along with some students feeling discouraged to take up English as a second language age also plays a role in the testing area because studies have shown that brain plasticity in children allows them to learn quicker than adults, therefore when taking standardized tests does not seem to be very reliable either.
For the good of the new English learner, I think it is imperative that the evaluating and testing system improve. I understand that as teachers there are certain things that have to be taught throughout courses but it shouldn’t be limited to just simply giving out information, I believe it should also, be about working on creating a better system that encourages people of all languages to participate, and not feel limited when it comes to the assessment aspects of it. It is very possible that after completing certain stages people leave the course just because of the way the testing was, so by creating or inputting different ways to evaluate students will also create more chances for people t want to learn and move on forward.
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As I mentioned, I am fully aware of how the system works when it comes to testing and placement, and comprehend that teacher is set to evaluate in certain ways, but I would be one to encourage different ways of methods of doing so, it might take up several trials using methods but it would be extremely beneficial.
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