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UNIT 15: EVALUATION AND TESTING
There are a lot of different tests that can be used during an English course. These include placement tests, progress tests, as well as diagnostic and practice tests. Furthermore, there are general external examinations, including TOEFL, IELTS, TOEIC, and the various Cambridge tests.
All of these tests have a place within a course. Placement tests are often essential, especially when placing students into different classes at the beginning of a course. These tests are designed to cover levels from very basic up to advanced, and get progressively harder as the test continues. Diagnostic tests are similar, albeit more extensive (sometimes).
Progress tests are a great resource, as it allows the teacher to see what information has been absorbed well by the students, and what may have been forgotten or needs to be revised. Some teachers don’t like these tests in certain situations, and I agree. With private, individual students, the progress of the student can be gauged quite easily as the lessons progress. However, I think that progress tests are good for larger groups as it gives the chance to look closely at the progress of each individual student.
Practice tests refers to practice for the official examinations as described below. The unit covers these quite lightly, because training students to take these tests is a time-consuming process, and requires the use of specific created materials.
The major official examinations are the following. TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) is an American English exam often used for entry into US universities. IELTS (International English Language Testing System) is widely recognised and good for situations in which English is the language of communication. Similarly, TOEIC (Test of English for International Communication) is a marker of English communication, and is most widely used in Japan and Korea. Lastly we have the Cambridge set of examinations – this covers a wide range of top tests, including KET (Key English Test), PET (Preliminary English Test), FCE (First Certificate in English), CAE (Certificate in Advanced English), and CPE (Certificate of Proficiency in English). There is also BEC and BULATS for the business English area of the Cambridge examinations, as well as ESOL Skills for Life by Trinity College London. Training students to take these tests definitely requires the use of coursebooks, as there are many elements involved in obtaining a successful grade.
There are obviously other official tests that can be undertaken by EFL students, sometimes focussing on just one aspect of English communication (such as spoken English).
Overall this unit gave very important information for English teachers to consider before and during their courses.