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This unit talked about the evaluation and the tests in the field of English teaching and learning. There are different ways to assess students’ progress and overall language proficiency. Generally, the assessment can be done by tutorials, course evaluations and various tests according to the needs.
Assessment through the tutorials is very informal and can be done sporadically and instantaneously. Whether it is at the beginning or the end or even during the class session or at the end of each week, instructor can assess the learning through asking if students have any questions, checking how much they understood on the lesson, discussing the lesson objectives, reviewing how well the tasks have been performed, etc. The assessment can be done in a group setting or individually.
The course evaluation is a slightly higher level of assessment and relatively more formal. Students give feedback on the lesson or the course by filling out a questionnaire on paper or electronically. While students are doing the evaluation, their skills of reading and writing are being depicted. They can describe if the lesson is too hard, too easy or just appropriate, whether the course materials or activities support the learning in a balanced fashion. If students’ reading skill is not quite proficient for them to understand the questions in the questionnaire, they can be given a guidance. If they have hard time writing in English, they can use their native language to provide answers. The results of survey can be discussed and the subsequent lessons modified based on the students’ comments. Course evaluations promote students’ interaction and awareness of what the classes have done. The inputs from the students, in the meantime, offer more information about whether or how much they understand on what instructor does in class.
As for the tests, there are many and widely different versions which can be used for different purposes. Some tests are administered internally by the school and some externally by the outside organizations, some domestically and some internationally. The internal tests can be used for baseline skill diagnosis, course replacement, learner progress examination, external test practice, achievement recognition or many other aims. Regarding the various external tests, either domestic or international, they are chosen truly based on the individual circumstances such as living in a new county, college admission, employment or business. Other features of the tests such as the format, either written or spoken, the frequency administered, either weekly, monthly or yearly, the question type, either multiple choice or essay writing, are all depending on the specific need and the test to be taken.
Assessments, no matter what forms to be used, are important steps to identify individual’s baseline language skill, examine how well the students’ learning has been progressing or evaluate individual’s overall language strength. An EFL instructor would need to know his /her students’ academic background, goals of learning English, so he or she can properly help the learning and prepare the students for their intended purposes and the tests.