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Proceedings of the third Conference of The Moroccan Association of Teachers of English

EL Jadida 21-24 March 1983


A. Mkoun : President A. Meziani : 1St Vice-President F. Sabil : 2nd Vice-President A. Azeriah : Secretary General A. Essellami: Deputy Secretary General N. Ziza : Treasurer General Council: Members of the board listed above and: F. Berrada N. Jalal A. Jamari S. El Amri F. Maghfour F. z Mghari M. N'chiri My T. Rifai Moroccan Association of Teachers of English BP - 6223 Rabat "Instituts" Rabat C.C.P.: Association Marocaine des Professeurs d'Anglais - CCP 212927T

Printed in February 1984 Rabat - Morocco Imprim lInstitut d'Etudes et de Recherches pour l'Arabisation

___________________________________________________________________________ CONTENTS ___________________________________________________________________________ Nonverbal Communication in the EFL Classroom A. Badre Teaching Literature as Culture: an Anti-Linguistic Approach M. Ezroura Twenty Common Testing Mistakes for EFL Teachers to Avoid G. Henning Silence in the Lycees: The Teaching and Testing of Reading Comprehension C. Hickey A Place for Visuals in Language Testing P. McEldowney Are You Teaching Reastening Comprehension? A. Meziani Introducing Have A Go A. Meziani Multiple Choice: Uses and Methodology A. Sanders It Aint What You Teach. It's the Way you Test it I. Stewart 4 21 33 40 50 59 67 71 82

NONVERBAL COMMUNICATION IN THE EFL CLASSROOM Abdelmajid Badre Facult des Sciences de l'Education I grew Up in Iowa and I knew what to do with butter: you put it on roastin' ears, pancakes, and popcorn. Then I went to France and saw a Frenchman put butter on radishes. I waited for the Cosmic Revenge - for the Eiffel Tower to topple, the Seine to sizzle, or the grape to wither on the vine. But that Frenchman put butter on his radishes, and the Gallic universe continued unperturbed. I realized then something I hadn't learned in five years of language study: not only was speaking in French different from speaking in English, but buttering in French was different from: buttering in English. And that was the beginning of real cross-cultural understanding (Morain, 19?8, p.1). A Moroccan student coming to the United States through an educational foreign exchange program was received by his American host family at an airport. Acting in what he believed a friendly manner, the Moroccan student kissed on both cheeks the family members including the father and sons. The American family members felt rather embarrassed and, consequently, the first contact was impeded. It was not until later that the Moroccan student realized that kissing between men tends not to be a common and socially acceptable practice in the American culture. An American student enters a bakery Athens. Her Greek is very good, and she confidently orders five cookies, giving the typical American hand gesture for five: palm toward the receiver, fingers spread apart. The clerk becomes visibly upset, and ejects her from the shop. The student had net realized that this gesture was a strong insult in Greece. Be-cause her command of the language was so good, there was a high expectation that she would be familiar with other communicative rules as well (Johnson, 1979, p. 21). Interactions like these, involving participants from different cultures, often, if not usually, result in misunderstandings. These miscommunications tend to occur largely as a result of the participants' cultural differences in preconceptions, expectations, and ways of referring to the world of reality. When two people from different cultures interact, they tend' to behave according to their own cultural norms almost taking for granted that they share essentially the same rules of behavior. One interactant may well be linguistically competent in the other's native language. Nevertheless, it is often the case that their interaction is hardly fully communicative because of the participants' ignorance or misinterpretation of cultural matters that transcend the linguistic knowledge such as the nonverbal system of behavior of each other. The' participants, in this case, are considered to retain a cultural accent in their interaction (Johnson, 1981, p. 3). It is commonly accepted by now that speech does net constitute the only channel through which human communication in face-to-face interaction takes place. Indeed, several scholars have agreed that a large Proportion of the messages that are generally communicated

in face-to-face interaction takes non-linguistic forms (Mehrabian 1972, Birdwhistell 1970, Applebaum et al. 1979). For instance while the content of human face-to-face interaction tends to be primarily, although net exclusively, carried in the linguistic channel, the mode of the interaction tends to depend largely on the nonverbal channel. For example, the nature of the relationship between interactants can be identified by their usage, of nonverbal elements such as whether they use touch, how close or far apart they situate themselves from each other, and what kind of bodily posture and orientation they adopt . For the past two decades, the field of applied linguistics has witnessed a certain emphasis of the teaching of culture (Brooks 1986,Hannerz 1973, Lafayette 1978, Lambert 1974 Seelye 1974, Trifonovitch 1980, Tucker 1971) and the incorporation of the nonverbal aspects of the target culture in the foreign language classroom (Galloway 1979, Johnson 1979, Morain 1978, Nine-Curt 1975, Saitz 1966,, Taylor 1975, Thompson 1973) to mention only...a few. Although these concerns have' been welcomed by a considerable amount of research, very few investigators have actually compared the nonverbal systems of different cultures with idea of presenting their findings and implications to the foreign language teacher and textbook designer. Indeed, most of the research in nonverbal communication has been limited, to the identification of the rules or patterns that are believed to govern the nonverbal behaviour of a cultural group or the derivation of the relationship between a nonverbal behaviour and certain psychological, sociological, or other nonverbal variables. result, applied linguists as well as foreign language teachers tend to be confronted with a situation where they are incessantly urged to incorporate the cultural as well as the nonverbal aspects of the target language in their foreign language textbooks and classrooms on the one hand, and where there is an evident paucity of contrastive studies between cultures to help them carry out their task on the other . As Jenks correctly remarked : We are not experiencing a shortage of techniques and rationales for teaching culture . We have plenty of why s, hows, where s, and when s. We lack what s. The actual information , the finding of current sociological research , and the information concerning the various cultures is and will continue to be a soft spot in the teaching of culture. This places the foreign language teacher in an unenviable position the delivery systems are here but we have not located much that we need to deliver ( Jenks , 1975 p 106 ). To this effect , the present study is an exploratory , investigation of the nonverbal systems of the American and Moroccan cultures . By comparing and contrasting he nonverbal behavior of the American and Moroccan subjects in various social contexts and the way they regard each others nonverbal system of behavior , the study attempts to determine whether there are differences in the ways these subjects , as representatives of the American and Moroccan cultures , behave nonverbally and the extent to which these differences can impede communication in cross cultural interaction . The focus of the study is on five nonverbal categories . These categories are : (1) chronemics , (2) gaze , (3) posture , ( 4 ) proxemics and (5) haptics ( see below for definitions of these terms ) . The Limitation of the scope of the present study to these five nonverbal variables only should by itself suffice to alert the reader to the fact that the finding of the study will not lead to a conclusive , comprehensive judgment about the American and Moroccan nonverbal

systems of behavior . Human face-to-face interaction clearly involves more complex factors than it is at present feasible to deal with satisfactorily in a single small scale study . Thus delimited, the present study can be considered as an investigation of the following questions about the American and Moroccan nonverbal systems: (1) How do Americans and Moroccans go about using the above-mentioned nonverbal categories in their interactions? Do they use these categories in similar fashions, or are there differences in the way they use them? (2) How do Americans and Moroccans view each other's usage of these nonverbal categories? (3) On the Basis of the subjects' responses to these questions, are there any implications that could be drawn for applied linguists and foreign language teachers in general, and English language teachers in Morocco in particular? Before going into the data and in view of the terminological confusion that has characterized the field of nonverbal communication, it is worthwhile to define some categories that will be used in this study. These categories are (1) nonverbal communication, (2) culture, (3) chronemics, (4) gaze, (5) posture, (6) proxemics, and (7) haptics. Nonverbal Communication: There have been various definitions of this term depending on the researchers' theoretical affiliations and level of focus. However, most investigators tend to use this term to refer to the usage of paralinguistic expressions and bodily movements such as body posture and orientation, gestures, eye-contact, time, body contact, and facial expressions in daily interactions. As Kendon (1981, p. 3) noted, many analysts tend to focus on the role that these movements play in establishing and maintaining the inter-active process between participants who are physically present to each other. Culture: Kroeber and Kluckhohn (1952) who have assembled more than two hundred definitions of "culture" have found that this elusive term has, throughout time, been defined in a number of ways and from different points of view. For instance, in pre-classical Latin, the term was used to refer to cultivation or nurture. One of the earliest definitions (Tylor, 1872) regarded "culture" as that complex whole which includes knowledge, belief, art, law, morals, custom, and any other capabilities and habits acquired by man as a member of a society (in Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952, p. 43). In the 1950's, anthropologists tended to contend that "culture" is a set o elements that are socially learned. For instance, Kroeber and Kluckhohn defined it as: A set of attributes and products of mankind, which are extrasomatic and transmissible by mechanisms other than biological heredity, and are essentially lacking in sub-human species (Kroeber and Kluckhohn, 1952, p. 145). However, the last two decades have witnessed an emphasis on the cognitive aspects of culture. As such, the anthropologist Haviland defined "culture" by maintaining that

it: not observable behavior of a group of people, but an abstraction derived from it. Culture is a set of rules, or standards which, when acted upon by members of a society, produce behavior that falls within the range of variance that members consider proper and acceptable ( Haviland , 1974 , p .264) . Chronemics : Essentially , this term is used to indicate the meaning and function of time in a cultural group i.e. , how members perceive the importance of time and how they go about using it in their daily interactions . Chronemics also refers to what members consider a late , early , or punctual arrival for social transactions such as visits , meetings , and social engagements . Gaze : refers to the communicational significance of the usage of the eyes in interactions and what members of a cultural group consider an appropriate or unacceptable way of gazing . The terms eye-contact and graze are used interchangeably to refer to the same construct . Posture : Essentially , this term is most frequently used to refer to the ways of sitting and standing , and body orientation in face-to-face interactions and their cultural significance . Proxemics : Initially christened by Hall ( 1963 ) , this term is used to refer chiefly to how members of a cultural group conceive interpersonal spacing and manipulate it in their daily transactions . It also refers to what they regard acceptable ways of interpersonal territoriality such as how close or far apart they are allowed to sit and stand from each other . Haptics : This term is used to refer to the nature and extent of acceptable ways of physical contact between members of a cultural group , i.e. how these members of a cultural group , i.e. , how these members touch each other in their interactions and what kinds of bodily contact they consider appropriate or inappropriate . I. The Subjects The research reported in this paper was conducted among fourteen American and Moroccan informants during the fall, 1982, semester. At the time of this investigation, thirteen of these subjects were students at Indiana University. In view of the small number of Moroccan students, the number of the Moroccan informants was slightly lower than that of the American subjects. The total of the subjects is eight Americans, four males and four females, and six Moroccans, two females and four males. The ages of the American subjects ranged from twenty-three to twenty-nine years. They come primarily from Midwestern states. Three informants come from Indiana, two from Illinois one from Ohio, one from Michigan, and one from Iowa. They were selected on the basis of their willingness to be interviewed and their familiarity with the Moroccan culture. All of these subjects had travelled to Morocco or interacted with Moroccans prier. to their interviewing. Five of the Moroccan informants were enrolled in various departments at Indiana University at the time of this study. The ether subject was a housewife. Their ages. ranged from twenty to thirty years. Two subjects come from Casablanca, two from El Jadida, and

two from Rabat. II. Data Collection and Analysis In order to obtain these subjects' verbal reports, a questionnaire was developed. Although this questionnaire was basically adopted from Johnson (1979), it was substantially modified and expanded (see appendix). It consists of sixty-two questions pertaining to the usage of the above mentioned nonverbal categories. Emphasis was put on the informants' point of view. The subjects were asked how they think they as well as members of their culture use these nonverbal categories in their daily transactions. The questions were administered in an open-ended fashion in order to give the informants ample opportunity and time to provide their reports and perspectives. The research method employed in this study is referred to as the semistructured interview (Berelson and Steiner, 1964, p. 32) or self- analysis (Johnson, 1979, p. 115). There are three major concerns that were taken into consideration in the development of this questionnaire. First, every nonverbal category is contextualized. The questions within each category deal with the usage of that category in situations of face-to-face interaction and in specific social contexts. These contexts represent four social situations where daily interaction takes place: classroom, market restaurant, and parties or social engagements. The purpose of this contextualization is to determine the extent to which social situations affect the nonverbal behavior of these groups . Another point is the issue of whether there are differences between the female and male nonverbal behavior of these cultures. In order to determine these differences, if any, male as Well as female subjects were inter- viewed. Moreover, each category in the questionnaire includes several questions about how men and women go about using that category. In addition to the contextualization and gender differences, an attempt was made to find out how the American subjects construe the nonverbal behavior of Moroccans and vice versa. Therefore, one or two questions were inserted at the end of each category asking the informants what they think of the way members of the ether culture use that category. The purpose of these questions is twofold. First, by telling how they conceive the non-verbal behavior of the ether cultural group, the subjects add more information about their own nonverbal system. Moreover, it was assumed that the subjects' reactions would indicate the extent to which the differences in the usage of nonverbal behavior could hinder successful cross-cultural face-to-face inter-action between these two groups. Accordingly, EFL teachers would be able to know what nonverbal aspects of the target culture should be taught in the classroom in order to facilitate English language learners' eventual interaction with members of that culture. Once all the informants were interviewed, their responses were broken into cultural groups. The responses of each cultural group were further broken into two categories: female and male. Afterwards, the answers of these four groups to each question were recorded separately on a chart. These answers were then compared at the female/male level within each group in order to find the similarities, if any. Once these common similarities were determined, they were contrasted with those of the other cultural group in order to find out the differences in the usage of the categories, if any. III. Findings

Chronemics: In general, the subjects' responses seem to indicate that the usage of time appears to be much more emphasized in the American culture. Time is a common denominator with which the American professional and academic activities function to Precision. For instance, when having an appointment or a meeting, people are expected to show .up on time. Students are expected to show up for their classes on time. Radio and television programs tend to be broadcast as announced in newspapers. It is common for people to leave and show up for their work on time. Trains, buses, and aeroplanes tend to leave and arrive as scheduled. Civil servants are expected to issue requested administrative documents on time. The American social interactions tend to function with more flexibility. For instance, the length of a party can vary from 3 to 5 hours. Guests are usually informed about when to come but not when to leave, unless it is a formal party or reception. however, there seems to be a tacit expectation for guests to leave after 3 to 5 hours. It appears customary for guests to show up a little late, usually between 30 minutes to one hour, unless it Is a dinner party in which case guests are expected to arrive no later than 15 minutes. The length of a friendly visit usually lasts up to 2 hours. However, when a visitor comes from out of town, she/he would be expected to stay up to 2 nights, preferably on the weekend. Shopping and with flexibility going to restaurants take place once a week and usually last Up to 2 hours. The Moroccan subjects' responses revealed that the usage of time appears to be less important in the Moroccan culture. Although it is emphasized in the professional and academic areas, time tends to be less respected than in the American culture. For example, when having an appointment, it is not surprising for one to wait up to one hour before the other person shows up. Radio and television programs do not always correspond to their announcements in newspapers. It seems customary for people to show up late for their work and leave early. Trains and buses are usually expected to be late. It seems common for civil servants to issue requested administrative documents a few days late. It appears that the Moroccan social inter-actions are less concerned with time than the American ones. For instance, the length of a party can vary from 4 to 9 hours, with formal parties and receptions being shorter. Guests are usually not told when to come and leave. However, it is customary for guests to arrive up to 2 hours and a half late, if they ever show up. However, when dinner is mentioned, guests are allowed to arrive Up to one hour late. The length of a friendly visit can last overnight. However, when visitors come from out of town, the visit can last up to a week. Shopping is generally left to women who tend to go to the market place every day. It appears that Moroccans do not go to restaurants as often as Americans do. However, going to cafes and snack-bars seems a daily activity. The American subjects' attitude toward the usage of time by Moroccans seems on the whole negative. Most of the American informants qualified the Moroccans' usage of time in daily inter-actions with Americans as disrespectful and annoying. The American subjects believe that time is fundamental in planning and executing professional as well as social interactions. Therefore, failure to respect time would be considered offending. Nevertheless, some American subjects expressed a certain regret for not being able to spend more time in their social transactions. The Moroccan subjects' view of the usage of time in the American culture, however, seems positive. Most of the Moroccan subjects tend to be impressed by the degree of respect of time in the American culture and wished that the professional as well as the social activities in the Moroccan culture were more concerned with time.

Haptics: The usage of this category appears to be similar in the two cultures in terms of form and context of occurrence. In both cultures, body contact takes place in the form of a handshake or a kiss usually in greetings and leave-takings. It is also similar in that men and women in both cultures use it differently. However, touch appears to differ in both cultures in terms of the degree of emphasis. In the American culture , touch appears to be rarely used in interactions in publics places except when it conveys a certain degree of intimacy or affiliation , in most daily faceto-face interactions in public places such as market place ,restaurant , or classroom . A Simple HI a little head nod or smile are used to acknowledge another interactants presence . In parties a handshake between men and a kiss on the cheeks between women appear to be a common practice . When people meet or are introduced for the first time , they often do not touch . Greetings among relatives appear to take the form of a handshake or no touch for men and hug or a kiss on the cheeks for women . In formal situations , it seems customary for men to shake hands and women not to exchange body contact . Greeting and leavetaking among friends or relatives who have not or are not going to see each other for a long time usually take the form of a handshake or no body contact between men and a hug or a kiss between women . In general , touch appears to be American subjects regarded a long handshake and a long hug or kiss that occur in daily interactions in public situations as inappropriate when they do not respectively denote formality and intimacy . In the Moroccan culture , touch tends to be much more emphasized . In most daily face-to-face interactions in public places such as market place , classroom , or restaurant , shaking hands appears to be a common practice . It tends to be customary for an interactant to walk into a place where there are 10 interactants and shake hands with everyone of them . When people meet or are introduced for the first time , they usually shake hands . Greeting among relatives usually takes the form of a handshake or a kiss on both cheeks for men and kiss on both cheeks for a woman . Kissing between men tends to be common when it denotes intimacy and between women merely as a form of greeting . When expressing intimacy, women tend to kiss several times on the cheeks. In formal situations, it is common for men as well as women to shake hands. Greeting and leave-taking among friends or relatives who have not or are not going to see each other for a long time usually take the form of a long hug and few kisses on both cheeks for men and women. In general, touch in public places tends to be used intrasexually more than intersexually. However, women seem to use touch more than men. The American subjects qualified the usage of touch by Moroccans as excessive and overemotional. According to the American subjects, it appears that there tend to be in the American culture a certain awareness and respect of individual territories in face-to-face interactions. Therefore, when used without denoting intimacy, any form of touch can constitute a violation of these individual territories. On the other hand the Moroccan subjects regarded the usage of touch in the American culture as formal, distant, and cold. They did not view body contact as a violation of the' limits that are set by the individual. Gaze: This category can result in some misunderstandings in intercultural interactions. It appears that Americans prefer to use a brief or casual glance in public places such as market place, restaurant, and classroom. In such places, a longer gaze is considered rude. However, in communicative social situations, the gaze tends to be longer and seems to be usually accompanied by some paralinguistic and facial expressions such as smiling, nodding, or even the verbal "uhum". Eye contact in such situations appears to indicate that the channels of communications are open and that attention is being paid to the interlocutor. A friendly gaze

is usually short and accompanied by a smile. The Moroccan subjects' responses revealed that in the Moroccan culture, eye contact tends to be longer and much more direct in general. In public places, people seem to take the time to look at each other in a rather examining way such as looking at the private parts of others' bodies, especially at women. Women seem to look up at men less than men do. In communicative face-to-face interactions, the Moroccan gaze tends to be direct and not as often accompanied by facial and paralinguistic expressions for communicative purposes. However, in other situations, eye contact tends to be shorter and less frequent. For instance, when youngsters interact with elderly relatives, they tend to look down most of the time. The absence of gaze in such situations is commonly regarded as an indication of respect. The American male subjects regarded the Moroccans' scrutinizing gaze without a smile as disrespectful and expressed their intolerance of it. The American female informants appeared to be embarrassed by the complete absence of eye-contact in face-to-face interactions, which means lack of interest or rejections, and by the cold stare which denotes boldness or threat. The Moroccan subjects qualified the Americans' brief and casual gaze as an indication of lack of interest. Posture: It turned out that this category revealed some significant intercultural differences. In general, it appears that the American subjects favored comfortable ways of sitting and standing more than the Moroccans did. In classroom situations, for instance, it is tolerated and quite normal for American students to sit in relaxed manners such as sticking their feet up. There seems to be fewer differences between the ways men and women sit in the American culture than in the Moroccan ans. In informal interactions, it is customary to sit with the back head to the chair, hands held down and feet crossed or held moderately apart. In formal interactions, people usually sit with their legs crossed, arms folded, and back straight. Standing in informal situations appears to consist of leaning on one foot and leaning on both feet and folding arms in formal situations. In the Moroccan culture, on the other hand, forms of body orientation, sitting, and standing tend to denote the immediate attitudes of the interactants. To use the same example, sitting in a comfortable position, as defined by the American standards, such as. sticking the feet up, would indicate disrespect and probably lack of manners. Even among family members, there tend to be same postures that are not tolerated such as sprawling or lying in bed. The American subjects regarded the usage of posture by Moroccans as formal and confined. The Moroccan subjects expressed their intolerance of the Americans' ways of sitting which they qualified as sloppy and disrespectful. Proxemics: The subjects' responses revealed that, in general, the Moroccans tend to situate themselves closer than the Americans do in face-to-face interactions. In interactions in public situations, the American subjects favored an average interpersonal distance of approximately 2 to 3 feet. Unless it means intimacy or affiliation, an interpersonal distance closer than 2 feet 16 considered embarrassing. It seems that interpersonal spatial regulations are much more structured and organized in the American culture. personal space is emphasized even among members of an American family. It is manifested by individual bedrooms, personal territory at meal tables, and individual seats in classrooms, to use only a few examples. The usage of interpersonal space can be summarized by Eisenbergs remark that it "can best be visualized as a 'plastic bubble'


which surrounds the individual. When people meet, they manipulate their badies in such a way as to keep their bubbles intact. If one pushes to the other, the bubbles bounce apart (Eisenberg, 1971, p.102). The Moroccan subjects, on the other hand, an average interpersonal distance of one foot in public places. It appears that an embarrassing interpersonal distance in the Moroccan culture would include touch, unless it is used to convey intimacy and affiliation . Most of the American subjects regarded usage Moroccans usage of interpersonal distance in Face-to-face interactions as aggressive and embarrassing. They believed that Moroccans tend to invade personal space easily. The Moroccan informants, on the other hand, viewed the American proxemic system as cold, distant, and rejecting . It seems evident that these nonverbal differences as well as the informants' views of each others nonverbal systems clearly indicate that foreign language proficiency cannot be measured or considered only in terms of the internalization and correct production of the linguistic aspects. A true foreign language achievement is one that ineluctably includes, in addition to the linguistic aspects, the ability to interact with native speakers of the target language verbally as well as nonverbally. Human social interaction, as has been discussed earlier, is not exclusively linguistic. The nonverbal features that accompany the linguistic messages are part and parcel of the communicative process and do contribute to he general meaning and mode of face-to-face interaction. Regardless of the degree of his proficiency in the English language, a Moroccan student, for instance standing in what is considered an average distance in his, culture, would be considered by American interactants as aggressive or too intimate. His direct and scrutinizing gaze may be embarrassing or intolerable. His lack of respect to time in social interactions could be an indication of thoughtlessness or disrespect. His excessive use of touch may be interpreted as a sign of aggressiveness or excessive emotionality. On the other hand, an American interactant's relaxed posture and body orientation in a Moroccan context could be understood as a sign of disrespect or bad manners. His standing two or three feet from Moroccan interactants may indicate formality. The absence of the use of touch in greeting or leavetaking situation could mean coldness or rejection. In short, these nonverbal differences can affect intercultural interactions. Second language learners' failure to be acquainted with the usage of the nonverbal aspects of the target culture can provoke uneasiness, embarrassments, or misunderstandings. Teachers of English as a foreign language ought to realize that these are rather critical issues that need to be seriously taken into consideration in the classroom. It is high time foreign language textbook authors embedded these nonverbal aspects in their coursebooks and materials. The inclusion of the nonverbal aspects of the American culture in the classroom will ineluctably necessitate English language teachers familiarity with the American nonverbal system of behavior. The awareness can be achieved by introducing nonverbal communication as pert of teacher trainees formation in teachers' training colleges. There are several ways of including the non-verbal aspects of the American culture in the EFL classroom. The use of films, suggested by Johnson (1979,.p. 151), is particularly worthy of consideration in the sense that, unlike most other techniques, films tend to show the complete nonverbal motions along with the linguistic text. In situation where access to such a technique may be difficult or expensive, prospective teachers ought to incorporate the target nonverbal behavior in the classroom by preparing lecture presentations where they explain


how members of the target culture go about using nonverbal categories in their da1iy transactions. (For a detailed discussion of the techniques of teaching the target culture, see Chastain, 1976, pp. 394-403.) However, in view of the present paucity of the nonverbal component in foreign language textbooks and materials, the prospective foreign language teacher ought to pursue scholarly pub1ications in the field and observe haw members of the target culture interact nonverbally by travelling to their country. These sources of information may prove to be reliable and helpful for the English language teacher and learner. One of the prospective English language learners' eventual realizations is that just as English is different tram their native language, the American nonverbal system of behavior is also simply different. By being aware of it, they would be able to understand better the target culture. Instead of evaluating it, they would accept it as another important aspect to learn and use for better communicative purposes.



As Scherer and Ekman (1982, pp. 7-8) pointed out, there have been two levels of focus in the study of nonverbal behavior: the investigation of the occurrence of nonverbal acts on the individual level and the study of the interaction. This distinction reflects differences in the epistemological affiliations and styles of investigation of the researchers. The investigators who adopted the first level of focus tend to believe that the examination of the psychological and biological processes that mediate nonverbal behavior on the individual level is fundamental before an accurate understanding of the processes of interpersonal interactions can be achieved. In their studies, they adopted quantitative methods and focused on small number of subjects. Investigators who adopted the second level of focus, on the other hand, tend to believe that humans are social beings whose nonverbal behavior is to be explained in terms of the behavior of those who surround them. Consequently, these researchers emphasize the delineation of the factors and processes that govern the organization of behavior in human social interactions. They tend to employ qualitative and structural methods by focusing on naturally-occurring interactions.


APPENDIX I Chronemics You have noticed how members of your culture use time in their daily interactions; 1. When invited to a party, are guests informed about when to come and leave? 2. What is the length of a party? 3. How late are members of your culture allowed to arrive at a party? 4. What is considered an early arrival at a party? 5. What do you think a punctual arrival at a party is? 6. What is considered late for attending a party? 7. How often do members of your culture go shopping? 8. When doing so, how much time do they spend in the market place? 9. How often do members of your culture go to restaurants? 10. How much time do they spend on meals at restaurants? 11. How late are students allowed to begin an academic year? 12. How late are students allowed to arrive for class? 13. What is the length of a friendly visit? 14. What is the length of a visit by a friend or relative from out of town? 15. When having an appointment, how long does one wait for the other(s) to show up? 16. What is considered a late arrival for an appointment? 17. Are radio and television programs broadcast as announced in newspapers? 18. Do trains, buses, and airplanes arrive and leave as scheduled? 19. Is it common for people to leave and show up late for their work? 20. Do civil servants issue requested administrative documents to people on time? 21. Is there anything that you do not like about the way Americans/Moroccans organize time in their interactions? If so, why? II. Haptics 22. You have seen members of your culture touch each other. Under what circumstances do they do so? 23. How do men/women greet each other in the following places: a. Parties or social engagements? b. Market place? c. restaurant? d. Classroom? 24. How do people greet each other when they meet or are introduced for the first time? 25. What is a common way of greeting among relatives? 26. If relatives or friends have not seen each other for a long time, how do they greet each other? 27. Do women/men touch when they leave each other? 28. In general, what is considered an appropriate touch? 29. What is considered an unacceptable touch in general? 30. Do you think the way women greet each other is different from the way men greet each other


31. 32.

Who is allowed to touch whom in public places? Is there anything that annoys you about the way Americans/Moroccans touch? Why?

III. Gaze You have noticed members of your culture gaze at each other in their daily interactions: 33. How long is one (man/woman) allowed to look at people in the following places: a. Parties? b. Market place? c. Restaurant? d. Classroom? 34. What is considered a friendly look? 35. In social interactions, how do members of your culture manage their gazing? 36. Do you think there is a difference between the way men and women gaze in your culture? 37. When walking down a street, how long is one allowed to gaze at passers by? 38. What is considered an unacceptable gaze? 39. Is there anything that you do not like about the way Americans/Moroccans gaze? Why? IV. Posture You have noticed how members of your culture sit and stand in their daily interactions: 40. How do members of your culture sit in general? 41. How do they sit and/or stand in the following places: a. Parties? b. Market place? c. Restaurant? d. Classroom? 42. What would be an unacceptable way of sitting? 43. Do both men and women sit in similar fashions, or are there differences in the way they sit? 44. How do people (women/men) sit in formal gatherings? 45. What would be an informal way of sitting? 46. How do people (men/women) stand in general? 47. How do people stand in formal settings? 48. What would be an informal way of standing? 49. Do men and women stand in different fashions? 50. What would be an unacceptable way 0f standing for a man/woman? 51. What do you think about the way Americans/Moroccans sit and stand in general?. 52. Is there anything that annoys you about the way Americans/Moroccans sit and stand? Why?

V. Proxemics:


In your culture: 53. How close or far apart would you say people situate themselves from each other in the following places: a. Parties? b. Market place? c. Restaurant? d. Classroom? 54. What would be an embarrassing distance in general? 55. What would be an intimate distance between men? 56. How close or far apart do men situate themselves from each other in formal settings? 57. What is considered an average distance between women? 58. What is an intimate distance between women? 59. In general, how close or far apart do men situate themselves from women? 60. What do you think about the way Americans/Moroccans use interpersonal distances in their interactions? 61. Is there anything that you do not like about the way Americans/Moroccans maintain distances among themselves in their interactions? Why? References Applebaurn, P. L., E.M. Bodaken, K.K. Sereno, and K.W.E. Anatol. 1979. The Processes of Group Communication. 2nd ed. Chicago: Science Research Associates. Badre, A. 1982. Nonverbal Communication in the EFL Classroom: A Comparison of the American and Moroccan Nonverbal Systems of Behavior. MA thesis: Indiana University. Berelson, B., Steiner, G.A. 1964. Human Behavior: An : Inventory of Scientific Findings. New York: Harcourt, Brace, and World Inc. Birdwhistell, P. 1970. Kinesics and Context. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. Brooks, N. 1968. Teaching culture in the foreign language classroom." Foreign Language Annals 1, Feb, pp. 71-78. Galloway, C.M. 1979. "Teaching and nonverbal Behavior. Nonverbal Behavior: Applications and Cultural Implications (Wolfgang, A., ed.) New York: Academic Press, PP. 179-208. Hall, E.T. 1963. A system for the notation of proxemic behavior. Anthropologist 65, pp. 1003-1026. American

Hannerz, U. 1973. The second language: An anthropological view. TESOL Quarterly 7:3, pp. 255-248. Haviland, W.A. 1974. Anthropology. New York: Holt, Rinehart and Winston.


Jenks, F.C. 1975. Foreign language materials: A status report and trends analysis. Perspective: A New Freedom (Jarvis, G. A., ed.). Skokie, Iii.: National Textbook, pp. 151-177. (The ACTFL Review of Foreign Language Education 5.) Johnson, S. 1979. Nonverbal Communication in the Teaching of Foreign Languages. Doctoral Dissertation: Indiana University. Johnson, S. 1981. A Handbook for Teachers of American English. Manuscript. Bloomington: Indiana University Research Center for Language and Semiotic Studies. Kendon, A. (ed.). 1981. Nonverbal Communication, Interaction. and Gesture Mouton. The Hague:

Kroeber, A.L., and C. Kluckhohn. 1952. Culture: A Critical Review of Concepts and Definitions. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University, Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology. Papers, vol. 47:1. Lafayette, P.C. 1978. Teaching Culture: Strategies and Techniques. Arlington, VA.: Center for Applied Linguistics. Lambert, W.E. 1974. "Culture and language as factors in language and education." Paper presented at the TESOL Convention, Denver. Mehrabian, A. 1972. Nonverbal Communication. Chicago: Aldine-Atherton, Inc. Morain, G .G. 1978. Kinesics and Cross-Cultural Understanding Arlington, Va.: Center for Applied Linguistics. Nine-Curt, C.J. 1975. "Nonverbal communication in the classroom: A frill or a must?" On TESOL '75 (Burt, M.K., and H.C. Dulay, eds.). Washington, D.C.: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. pp. 171-178. Saitz, R.L. 1966. "Gestures In the language classroom. Eng1ish Language Teaching 21 p. 33. Scherer, K.R., and P. Ekman (eds.). 1982. Handbook of Methods in Nonverbal Behavior Research. London: Cambridge University Press. Seelye, H.N. 1974. Teaching culture: Strategy for Foreign Language Educators. Skokie, I1l.: National Textbook. Taylor, H.M. 1975. "Beyond words: Nonverbal communication in E.F.L." On TESOL (Burt, M. K., and H.C. Dulay, eds. ). Washington DC: Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages. Pp. 179-189. Thompson, J.J. 1973. Beyond Words: Nonverbal communication in the Classroom. New York: Citations Press . Trifonovitch, G.J. 1973. "Culture learning/ culture teaching." Readings on English as


Second Language (Croft, K., ed.). Cambridge, Mass.: Winthrop Publishers, Inc. pp. 550-558. Tucker, R., Gatbonton, E. 1971. "Cultural orientation the study of foreign literature. Quarterly 5:2, pp. 137-153.


Questions 1. Q. Mr Bagui: Bearing in mind the age of lycee students, don't you see any risks in having our learners compare their own culture that of the target language? I'm thinking mainly of two risks: 1) either they have a very low impression about their own culture, or the other way round. 2) Reinforcement of stereotypes. A. The teacher has to create a certain equilibrium. The teacher mustn't indoctrinate. Human behaviour is complex, and there may be some reinforcement of stereotypes. But this isnt the point. The aim is to sensitize the students to a culture and familiarise a student for the event of interaction, and so minimise communicative problems. Q. Abu-Talib: What are the basic factors of the culture to stress in the presentation of material? A. Particular items indicate (in the target culture) how people act, in many situations. The purpose of my talk is not to know how to put your legs when you go to London, but how the people in London put their legs, so as not to prevent cultural interaction. The job of the teacher is this. Q. Larry Cisney: What segments of U.S. society were used to gather the information on which your findings are based? Why? A. Indiana, Michigan, Iowa and Ohio - because I happened to be there. Q. Fakharreddine Berrada: Don't you think it's very challenging to deal with the problem of 'culture' in a classroom where many cultures are represented? A. The States is a pluralistic society, and each environment has its own culture, but even in that kind of society, sensitizing students culturally is a very good thing to do. Q. If with a large smile on my beaming face, I was to communicate this to you: "I love you!" How can you tell whether I'm lying telling the truth? A. Intuition can be used here. But the topic is exceptional. The purpose is to focus on the generalities that most people tend use, not on feelings which people communicate in an individual way.





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TEACHING LITERATURE AS CULTURE: An anti-'1inguistic' approach Mohamed Ezroura Faculty of Letters -Rabat First I would like to warn you against the title of this paper as it stands. I am sure that many of you are ready to jump on me for my claim to be 'anti-linguistic'. "What is wrong with linguistics? Everything is 1anguage and linguistics studies 1anguage," you would say. This is undoubtedly true, but my critique is levelled against certain types of linguistic analyses which have used linguistics in approaching literature either in private reading or in the classroom. Similarly, this critique is of any type of knowledge which claims objectivity while soaring in the air, isolating and marginalizing from its domain the people or human beings who it produce that knowledge or about whom it is produced. This paper is an attempt to debate some commonly used models of teaching literature and aims at establishing a method of reading and teaching literary and other discursive practices as cultural signs rather than as mere linguistic signs. But before starting on this debate, let me proceed with an imaginary anecdote relating the experience of some teachers of literature. It runs as follows: A group of teachers gathered once to select a number of texts (novels, short stories, plays and poems) to be taught at the university the following academic year. Here is a part of their discussion: First teacher: I would like to suggest M. Gorky 's novel, The Mother. Second teacher: It may be an excellent novel, but I object to its being taught at our level. We may also be accused of being pre-Russian. Third teacher: I would suggest D.H. Lawrence's novel, Lady Chatterly' s Lover, instead. Second teacher: That is also a very good novel, but I'm afraid we can't teach it. It is pornographic and immoral. Besides, it is too difficult for our students... Think of the students. First teacher: What about W. Owen' s poem, 'Anthem for a deemed youth'? Third teacher: I'm sorry again. That's anti-nationalistic. It is a beautiful poem, but you know there are many sensitive minds around and we might be accused of being anti-nationalistic... This discussion went on for some time and the group of teachers finally e-greed upon a collection of 'good' texts which were neither difficult for their students, nor political, nor anti- nationalistic, nor immoral, nor pornographic. Presumably, similar anecdotes have confronted several teachers of literature not only when choosing texts to teach; but also when arguing about which methodology or approach to adopt. However, this anecdote is very significant in the way it relates to use some of the crucial problems that arise in classroom situations, and when a literary text is to be taught. Here are at random some of these problems which are central to the debate in this paper: (a) the selection of texts for the curriculum and the aim behind the teacher's activity in the


classroom. (b) Is it a process of imparting knowledge to the students, or is it merely talking about literature which concerns the teacher? (c) What is the nature of that knowledge and which methodology to adopt in order to impart it? (d) What is the nature of the literary text, its relationship to language, other social practices, and the real world? I believe that all these questions are interrelated and find their ultimate solution in the nature of the literary text - which I detail below - and the nature of the language that constitutes it. On the whole, our main concern as teachers of literature is, should be, hew the teaching of literature can have a positive influence on our students and thereby on our society in general. This may be interpreted as setting up a goal for the practice of teaching literature; but to be empirical, any approach to literature would normally assign itself a goal to attain. It is a quest for a positive Influence as seen by individual teachers and educationalists which has always governed the view of hew literature is to be taught, read, and disseminated. Let us now consider some of the various methodological suggestions for the teaching of literature that have been advanced in such publications as the journals Forum, ELT, and Widdowson' s Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature (Longman, 1975). It should be noted that all these sources have a linguistically based approach to the teaching of literature. Linguistics and the teaching of literature Central to this approach is a peculiar view language, and more specifically literary discourse. Briefly, this view's analyses turn around the following arguments: a) 'writing' (is) a representation of speech", and literary language is radically different from ordinary language. (Widdowson, 1975). b) Priority is given to technique, the patterning of linguistic units in both prose and verse; while less importance is given (if net ignored) to the communicative or social content of literature (i.e. the segmental 16 central, whereas the cultural 16 marginal.) c) The domain of reference is grammar, or in Widdowson' s words, it is "grammaticalness and interpretability (Widdowson, op. cit.) d) Linguistic structures govern literature and net the reverse, and thereby they should govern the teaching of this literature as well. e) The literary text is autonomous. In her article, "some insights from linguistics the teaching of literature", published in Forum , Vol. XIX, no. 4+, l976, Virginia French Allen says that how to cheese and arrange words in a passage se as to evoke in a reader's mental ear the rhythms and emphases appropriate to the writer's intention - that is one of the central problems in literary art. Perhaps this task would not be made easier for literary artists by acquaintance with the work of Pike, Trager and Smith; but the observations of the one and ether linguists concerning intonation, stress, and juncture are helpful to teachers. They offer ways of accounting for the effects produced by literary craftsmanship... ." (p. 18) She also states hew the way language is spoken is the dominant feature in literary craftsmanship Therefore, the teacher should accordingly pay close attention to the patterning


and occurrence of similar and different linguistic literary texts. Although she acknowledges existence of ether 'non-central' problems in literary discourse, Allen French does not move beyond word and sentence order analyses. To quote here again; "The patterning of syllables carrying different degrees of stress in the spoken language can account for the rhythm of written language - whether in poetry or prose. There is direct relationship between the rhythm or cadence of a passage and the placement of articles, prepositions, auxiliaries, and other (...) words. All this has a great deal to de with literary craftsmanship and with discussions in literature classes (French, 1976:19) If we consider this view with a grain of salt, and try to apply it in our ways of analysing literature, we shall ultimately end up with a misleading conception/definition of literature and language as a game which involves no players. At least, this approach could have taken into account the critic's practice If we fellow this approach; we will end up with a conception of language which relates to no speakers; and consequently, the teacher or reader of literature becomes a person trapped in an intricate Puzzle of words which he/she has to decipher. This actually reminds me of the Russian Formalists' notion of the "knight's move" in literary construction. In order to differentiate between what is literary and what is non-literary, the Russian Formalists (1920's) adopted the notion of 'literariness " as the distinguishing nature of literary texts from other disciplines like history, sociology and physics. In order to appreciate this 'literariness' in the text, the Formalists had to leek up the different patternings of the linguistic units in it. Consequently, the text became like a chess board on which readers and critics play their games. This position also led them to approaching "particular literary text not as ends in themselves, to be understood on their own terms and for their own sake: but as vehicles for the exemplification and development of this concept" of 'literariness'. (Bennett, 1978:46) it follows from this that the teacher of literature finds himself left with the task of tracing the number of prepositions, articles, transitive and intransitive verbs, noun phrases an so forth in the poem or novel dealt with; which is a repetitive and boring procedure. Undoubtedly, a certain function has already been given to literature and its teaching here; i.e. the type of knowledge the teacher is to impart to his/her students is clearly alien to the social world which has produced and, at the same time, consumed that linguistic artefact itself. This approach, therefore, expresses a certain ideological project and a certain type of educational politics which can by no means be innocent and objective as it claims to be. According to Widdowson, linguistic analysis approaches literature in terms of its "grammaticalness and interpretability . Therefore, when writers produce their texts, they are controlled by their grammar which constitutes the laws that govern the text and the language in which it is written. Hence the nature of the text remains at the level of the segmental. This leads us towards a very problematic view of language as constituting a separate whole or world, and an autonomous entity which does not depend on any other structure outside itself. To make his argument clearer, Widdowson says: "Essentially the distinction between literary and non-literary discourses is that non-literal expressions occur randomly in ordinary discourse whereas in literature they figure as part of a pattern which characterises the literary work as a separate and self-contained whole. What is distinctive about a poem, for example, is that the language is organized into a pattern of recurring sounds, structures and


meanings which are not determined by the phonology, syntax or semantics of the language code which provides it with its basic resources..." (Widdowson, op. cit.: 36) If therefore, in ordinary language, an utterance presupposes the interaction of a sender and a receiver, or an addresser and an addressee (Jakobson), literature according to this linguistic approach does away with these primary factors. The author or the poet addresses himself to nobody and the message becomes self-referential. Thus "A piece of literary discourse is in suspense from the usual process of social interaction whereby senders address messages directly to receivers. The literary message does net arise in normal course of social activity as do ether messages; it arises from no previous situation and requires no response, it does net serve as a link between people or as a means of furthering the business of ordinary social life..." (Widdowson, op. cit.: 51) Contrary to this assertion, any text has always addressed itself to a particular group of people either in support of or within an argument against a certain view of the world. Literature has never exiled itself from the social world. One actually would encounter the same problematic in some contemporary views of literature which have adopted as a tool of analysis Saussurian linguistics; namely linguistic structuralism, l'analyse textuelle and Deconstruction. Unfortunately, what they end up doing is (an attempt to describe the structures of the human) mind on the basis of the structures of language." (Tolson, 1979) In order to achieve an objective view of language; Ferdinand De Saussure contended that linguistics needed an object specific to its nature in order to become a science. The thrust of his theory can be summed up in the following: a) The arbitrariness of the sign (language, literature) b) There is no natural link between the signifier and the signified. c) "The value and function of a given unit in language, its accepted meaning, depends on its relationship to other such units within the system of language." (Bennett, op. cit.:45) In applying these concepts to literary discourse, many literature specialists marginalize the referent as social and cultural. In a similar way, structuralists view "cultural forms - such as myths, folk tales, literature (...) as being articulated like a language and the methods of study derived from linguistics should accordingly be used in their study..." (Bennett, op .cit.) One deduces from this theoretical view that literature is constituted of different linguistic elements (units) which produce their meaning through their reflexive relationship; a relationship of resemblance and difference. Moreover the text is an autonomous artefact which is isolated from the social milieu where it is rooted. This type of linguistics which constitutes the basis of Widdowson' s 'approach and Saussurean structuralism has led to viewing the literary text as self-referential; a view which has become the watch-word for the highly sophisticated and fashionable approach to the reading and teaching of literature in the United States: Deconstruction. What a deconstructivist critic or teacher believes is that,


"the deconstructor (...) undertakes a minute and rigorous analysis of a; particular text and shows that it in fact contains contradictions which make it impossible to project a single coherent meaning from it. Instead of capturing a referential object or an authorial intention, the text is entangled in the network of its own rhetorical organization..." (Marshall, 198O: 43O) A clear deduction from these views is that the linguistically-based approaches t' the teaching of literature have not been able to go beyond the linguistic units of texts in order to seek interpretations of the cultural elements and layers of literary discourse. The reasons behind this shortcoming lie in a particular misunderstanding of artistic language and the literary text in general. I believe that in order to be objective, any approach to literature and its function in the educational system of any society should take into consideration the sociolinguistic dimensions of texts and see them as "a totality of literary and extra-literary factors including the prevalent mode of production, the prevalent ideology, the author's ideology and the mode of his insertion into the complex total." (A. Williams, 1982) But before the consideration of the nature of the literary text which is going to determine what appropriate' approach to adopt, let us consider first the difference between literary/artistic language and ordinary language. Literary 1anguage and ordinary 1anguage It is truistic to say that the raw material of literature is literary language, but it is very misleading to advance that literary language is a self-referentia1 system which is exiled from the rea1 world. Let us consider the following statements which were a credo for the German Romantics, French Symbolists and other semioticians the early part of this century. Both are simultaneously by Kar1-Philip Moritz and Jan Mukarovsky: a) "The truly beautiful (and hence art, which is its incarnation) consists in the fact that a thing should signify nothing but itself, that it should be an achieved whole in itself." b) "The artistic sign (is) ... an autonomous sign.... (Quoted by Todorov, 1973) If we accept - for the sake of argumentation-that artistic language is not referential to anything outside itself, we shall find ourselves in contradictory reasoning when we note that language (either literary or non-literary) has changed According to historical events and developments, periods and usage. It is needless to stress here the fact that Hamlet's language is not that of Look back in Anger, or that Robinson Crusoe's religious discourse is radically different from Faulkners rhetoric in Light in August. Literary language, in fact, faces a serious problematic relating to its function and its relationship to the real world. According to the different schools of criticism which have tried to solve that problem, artistic language had to accept either mimesis or self-referenciality. However; language in literature neither mirrors the world nor detaches itself from it; it has a complex and particular relationship with it. . As Todorov says, "language mediates the world".


It represents the world to us and gives us a view of it. Authors 're-present' the world in which they live via the language they use. Unfortunately, they have no other means to 'speak' the world to us outside language. They 'reflect an image of a broken image; a contradictory view of a world itself full of contradictions. If we go back to the constitutive 'unit' of literature which is the word, we note that it does not-as in life- only function in grammatical relationship to other words in the text, but is burdened with cultural signification as well. As Voloshinov explains: "In actuality, we never say or hear words, we say and hear what is true or false, good or bad, important or unimportant, pleasant or unpleasant, and so an. Words are always filled with content and meaning drawn from behaviour or ideology. That is the way we understand words, and we can respond only t-o words that engage us behaviourally or ideologically." (Voloshinov, 1973:70) Thus, it is this type of concern with empty and dry words that the literary critic and the teacher of literature should bath avoid believing in and imparting to their students. In the light of this argument, a careful consideration of the nature of the literary text and its genesis seem necessary. The nature of the literary text If the nature of the literary text is clearly defined, it will be easier for the teacher of literature to find a better way to confront the text in the classroom. This will also enable us to answer all the questions posed at the beginning of this paper. In reference to the diagram below, the literary text is by no means only a linguistic construction which awaits the reader's or the teacher's deciphering and consumption. It is not only a collection of linguistic units which are isolated from the social world; on the contrary, it is a discursive practice which is, like any other cultural activity, strongly rooted in the various other activities of individuals and their relationships to each other. When a literary text is written, read or taught, its nature and function become clearly defined by a whole series of factors which (directly or indirectly) interfere with its signification and textual construction or interpretation. In the classroom, (ref. diagram), the centre of attention is the text per se, which is signification, a knowledge of the world (cultural and ideological) and textuality (linguistic material). The agents behind its status as a text are the author (producer) and the teacher (reader). Both of them approach the text carrying inside their heads mnemonic systems which have always and already been modelled through a direct contact with the outside world. In handling a text and through the production of an imaginary (fictional) world, the author interrogates, sides with or subverts the dominant conception of this world. Examples of this fact are many in world literatures. In fact, when an author deals with the raw materials he has acquired through family, class, and intellectual alliances, his Personal view interferes with the production process of the output he finally presents us, as readers, with. It is at this level that we get psychological and technical transformations in the text (see the left-hand side of the diagram). This is actually what has always differentiated authors and poets from each other - even when they belong to the same historical period and the same society - and I believe that they will, accordingly, remain so for ever.


The Literary text: (Diagram)

The material world : The economic , the social , .. The cultural world : history , language , other texts

The author = The I ( eye ) : ( recipient )

The process of production : Linguistic , Cultural

Psychological & ideological transfomations of the text

TEXT : Signification : Knowledge

The process of teaching the text

The teacher : reader = (eye) : ( recipient )

The materiel world : The economic , social .

The cultural world : history , language , other texts

The literary text that the author produces is not scientific knowledge of the world nor a purely linguistic artefact. It is a cultural and an aesthetic construct which mediates a vision of the world and takes a position towards the different modes of writing which preceded it. This is the real nature of the literary text which the teacher of literature should seek and try to impart to his/her students. On the whole, a literary work is "the Product (...) of a signifying practice, a practice which constructs and produces meaning" (Hall, 1978); a meaning which is at the same time textual and cultural. Be it Dante's Comedia Divina or Milton's Paradise Lost or Hemingways Farewell to Arms; they are all their Authors expression of a way of handling, transmitting and distorting the dominant cultural and textual views of a historical


period. On the other hand, when a literary text is approached by the teacher, its nature changes and becomes more complex; yet richer (ref. diagram). Here, it is not only the authors world which is there; but the teacher's too. Therefore, an awareness of this fact is to be kept in the teachers mind. Both the reader's and author's presence on the pages of a text intermingle in the interpretation of the latter. As in the case of the author's encounter with the materials he exploits in his production, the teachers background and view of the world is present in the way the text is taught and interpreted. This explains a lot the factors behind the multiplicity of readings that a literary work life Hamlet has so far undergone. Teaching literature as culture Thus, literary texts cannot be reduced to Language as a linguistic construction devoid of Cultural content. The linguists are right to remind us of the fact that no human practice can be thought outside language, but we cannot be committed to the view that "in the beginning there was only the word.... (Hall, op. cit.). Before the word, there existed an addresser, and an addressee a something to talk about, and a labor to think and utter it. What literature produces, beside its technical craftsmanship, is a world of ideas which are over-loaded with cultural meaning. As Andrew Tolson clearly explains: "Literature itself is a form of labor (work), the transformation of a set of 'raw materials' (goods), facts, ideas, etc..., via a certain means of production (language), into a product (a new work). This product enters the cultural life of the society as the 'objectivication' of a 'theoretical practice' and may serve as the raw material for future theoretical practice..." (Tolson, op. cit.: 57) What I mean by culture and the cultural as the core of literary discourse is the way people live, express themselves, and deal with the material and ideological world around them. I would go along with the definition Raymond Williams gives to culture: A "signifying system through which meaning (...) a social order is communicated, reproduced, experienced and explored." "It includes formal and conscious beliefs but also less conscious, less formulated attitudes, habits and feelings, or even unconscious assumptions, bearings and commitments... (Raymond Williams, 1980) This whole system or beliefs - even those 0f the self-referentiality of language - finds it way into literature via the language it uses. And without taking all these elements into consideration, any methodology of teaching literature; which aims objectivity and claims it; will remain weak and unreliable.


REFERENCES French Allen, Virginia ."Some insights from linguistics for the teaching of literature," Forum ,Vol. XIV, Number 4 (1976). Hall, Stuart. Some paradigms in cultural studies " Annali-Anglistica, Number 3 (Naples, 1978) Marckwardt , Albert. "What literature to teach: Principles of selection and class treatment, "Forum, Vol. XIX, Number 1 (1981). Marshall, Donald. "Teaching literature, Partisan Review, Number 2 (1980). Moody, L.H.B. The teaching of literature with special references to developing countries, Longman, 1971). Sopher, H. "Discourse analysis as aid to literary interpretation " Forum, Vol. XXXV Number 3 (1981) Strachtenberg, Alan. Teaching literature, Partisan Review, Number 2 (1980). Todorov ,Tzvetan. Artistic language and ordinary language"; Times Literary Suplement, (October 5, 1973). Tolson, Andrew. "Reading literature as culture," Working papers of the Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies, Number 9 (Birmingham University , 1976). Voloshinov , V.N. Marxism and the Philosophy of language, (New York: Seminar Press, 1975). Widdowson , H.G. Stylistics and the Teaching of Literature, (Longman , 1975). Williams, Adebayo. "The crisis of confidence in the criticism of African literature," Presence Africaine , Number 123 (1982). Williams, Raymond. Culture, (Penguin, 1980).


QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS Q: Don't you think that most teachers of literature impose their own analysis, appreciation on their students? A. It is what I have criticized in my paper. Teachers have always imposed methodologies of reading and analyses on their students. It is better to present the students with different readings/approaches and let them choose which one suits them best. Sometimes, some readers would opt for an eclectic method; a bit far from this approach, and pieces from that one. Undoubtedly, each teacher has his/her own view of literary interpretation. Certainly, he/she is entitled to it; but as long as he/she is aware of the intentions (social, cultural, political etc. behind) that view. There is no way to limit that. What my approach puts forward is an analysis or a method of reading which is aware of its project (and explains it to the students). It also takes into account what a literary text says and what it does not say explicitly. Q: The student of literature is still learning the language. Should the teacher focus on literature or on language? A: The think that this arbitrary distinction between literature and language should be avoided as much as possible. I believe that it is wrong to talk about language separately from literature. Once a discourse is uttered, it becomes literature. Some theorists of discourse are reading history now as literature! It is actually when critics /teachers started separating literature from language that they started producing misreading of texts because they conceptualized language in literature as a discourse without addresser and addressee. The linguistic elements of a text such as verbs, adjectives and so on are the bricks in the constructed text and cannot be understood without the literary/cultural content they carry. Q: How would you go about testing literature? A: In order to test literature, the teacher should test the student's knowledge of the text. The teacher should start with testing the factual elements of the novel, story, poem or play and move on to the different themes and interpretations the student may come Up with as long as these readings: are supported by logical/sound arguments and passages from the text. Q: Is the aim of teaching literary texts to spoon-feed students with ideas or to help them gain an understanding of how to approach a particular literary work? A: The aim of teaching must not be spoon-feeding, but developing the Intellectual faculties the student already has; namely the faculty of criticism and analysis. When these faculties are developed, the student will be equipped with a methodology and an ability to confront various literary texts. Q: You have mentioned only the psychological approach, aren't there any other approaches? If yes which of them, do you think, is the most reliable


A: I have not mentioned only the psychoanalytic approach, and my approach is not psychoanalytic, but borrows some theoretical concepts from psychoanalysis. There are many approaches in the field of literary interpretation. To mention a few: the formal approach, the archetypal approach, l'analyse textuelle, structuralism, Marxism, the Feminist approach, Deconstructivism , etc... As of the reliability of these approaches, I am personally dissatisfied with most of them; but I think that if we combine different principles from some of them, we can come Up with a more objective method of reading literary texts which I would call: Culturalism. This approach takes into account the technical (Linguistic) as well as the cultural and ideological components of a text. Q: Language is highly organized; if you don't understand the structure patterns of a language or understand the meaning of some words; you will not be able to understand fully the literary text. In general, you cannot teach literature without a language and since linguistics helps us understand language better, I think one will gain more by using it. Can you comment on this, please? A: It seems that some of you have not well understood the basic arguments in my paper. I am not saying that linguistics is a useless 'science' for the teacher of literature or the interpreter in general. Yes to linguistics; but the question raised is about the type of linguistics we should adopt. Take for example Deconstruction in the U.S.; it sees the text merely as a word play and only as a 1inguistic construction which does not refer to anything outside the text itself. This approach has been rejected by many critics .As of the type of linguistics I would support and see as an objective way of interpreting a literary text, it is the one which takes into account the cultural and ideological factors which construct a text. Q: The process of selecting set books for a certain level remains very critical. Don't you think we can have any book set for a level and the conception, perception and interpretation lie in the hands of the teacher first and the student? A: The selection of books (texts) is indeed very problematic at all levels. I don't think that we can have any book (text) for any level. Texts vary in their structure, difficulty of the vocabulary used, and most of ail the complexity of the themes dealt with by their authors. There are books of easy structure and themes; namely, Robinson Crusoe, Jane Eyre, Bleak House, Native Son, The Red Badge of Courage etc. And there are books which have complex structures and themes such as Gulliver's Travels, Ulysses, Jealousy, Dr. Faustaus, Absalom! Absalom! and others. These different books must be set for different levels. As regards interpretation, it does not lie in the hands of the teacher and the students. We should not forget that the student is still a learner of the tools of reading and deciphering; whereas the teacher is more experienced and knows the trade better. Q: If language cannot be trusted anymore, how can we evaluate the culture conveyed via this medium?


A: My paper is a critique of this very view of language which borrows its tools of analysis from Saussurean linguistics. It is this view which sees the text as a linguistic construct which refers to nothing outside itself. The approach adopted here in this paper gees against this view in the sense that it believes in the existence of a 'referent' which is cultural and ideological in the text. The only means human beings can express themselves through is - unfortunately - language and as critics, we must account for the nature of this medium before establishing any view of the text. Q: How can we make literature (in a foreign language course) relevant to the target as well as the source culture (s)? A: All literatures can be incorporated under the notion of 'discourse practice' which is governed by linguistic, social cultural and ideological factors. Accordingly, any text in a foreign language can be made relevant to the target/source culture(s). When the different analyses or interpretations of this text take into account in their reading the multiple manifestations of these factors, the aim which is that of understanding and explaining both cultures is achieved through the text. Generally, the social and cultural factors which produce a literary text-be it in English or Spanish or Arabic-are the same in their difference. Factors differ according to cultures and social formations, but are similar in the type of knowledge and view of the world they produce. Once we analyse a text which mediates a view of the world (which is different from ours), it helps us improve and understand or it least, compare a variety of world visions to each other. Human beings, undoubtedly, live and understand their world through comparison, and teaching or reading literature helps improving that cultural (discursive) practice.

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TWENTY COMMON TESTING MISTAKES FOR EFL TEACHERS TO AVOID Grant Henning American University - Cairo To some extent good testing procedure, like good language Use, can be achieved through avoidance of errors. Almost any language instruction program requires the preparation and administration of test and it is only to the extent that certain common testing mistakes have been avoided that such tests can be said to be worthwhile selection, diagnostic, or evaluation instruments. The list of common testing problems provided here is by no means exhaustive, but it has been drawn from wide experience with tests prepared for classroom and district use, and may there fore be said to be representative. It is intended as a kind of checklist to serve as guidelines for EFL teachers in the preparation of their own examinations. The common mistakes have been grouped into four categories as follows: general examination characteristics, item characteristics, test validity concerns, and administrative and scoring issues. Five specific mistakes have been identified under each of these categories. While some overlap may exist in categories of mistakes and methods of remediation, it is believed that each of the following twenty mistakes constitutes a genuine problem which, if resolved, will result in an improved testing program. GENERAL EXAMINATION CHARACTERISTI CS 1. Tests Which Are Too Difficult or Too Easy When tests are too difficult or too easy, there is an accumulation of scores at the lower or higher ends of the scoring range. These phenomena are known collectively as "boundary effects". As a result of such effects, there is information loss and reduced capacity of the test to discriminate among students in their ability. The net result is a test which is both unreliable and unsuitable for evaluation purposes. For most purposes, care should be taken to prepare tests and items which have about 50 per cent average rate of student success. Such procedure will maximise test information and reliability .his implies that the test should be tried out on a restricted sample of persons from the target population before it is used for student or program evaluation purposes. 2. An Insufficient Number of Items Test reliability is directly related to the number of items occurring on the test. While tests, may be too long and thus needlessly tire the students, a more common mistake is for a test to be too short and thus, unreliable. For most paper-and- pencil EFL tests it is difficult to achieve acceptable reliability (say .85 or above) with less than 50 items. This is particularly true with tests of listening comprehension. At the same time, EFL tests with 100 or more items rapidly reach a point of diminishing reliability returns for the inclusion of additional items. Similar comments may be offered regarding tests of written or oral production that do not involve the use of items. For these tests as well, a sample of language usage must be elicited from the students that is both large enough and diverse enough in content to permit reliable measurement.


3. Redundancy of Test Type In testing general language proficiency, it is Common practice to devise a battery of subtests to ensure that all important language skills are covered by the test as a whole. This may well be a necessary step in the development of tests which have validity as measures of general proficiency. The problem Arises when such combinations or batteries are indiscriminately maintained beyond the development phase. It can be demonstrated through stepwise multiple regression procedure that no significant variance explanatory information is usually added to most test batteries beyond the three or four best, reliable subtests. What this means in practice is that we Indulge in a kind of measurement 'over kill' by proliferating subtests. It has been demonstrated, for example, that inclusion of subtests of error identification grammar accuracy, vocabulary recognition, and composition writing "leaves no room' for a subtest of listening comprehension (Henning, 1980). This is to say that nothing is added beyond the existing components of the test in terms of the ability of the test to explain or predict general EFL proficiency. Many such indiscriminately maintained proficiency tests are inefficient in the sense that they carry too much extra baggage. 4.Lack of Confidence Measures Most standardized tests come equipped with a user's manual. The manual provides us with information about the reliability and validity of the tests, both what they are and how they were ascertained. This information permits us to estimate the level of confidence which may be placed in the test result when it is applied to various situations. When use is made of locally developed test for important evaluative decisions, estimates of reliability and validity should be provided for these tests. Appropriate computational formulas may easily be found in measurement theory texts. Closely related to this problem is the need to ensure that the persons on whom the test was tried out in its evaluation stage are from the same general population as those on whom the test is ultimately applied. It is not uncommon for unwarranted reliance to be placed in some foreign standardised test when the characteristics of the population on which it was developed are vastly different from those on which it is being used. Vast differences of this sort imply a need for reanalysis of the test in the new situation. 5. Negative Washback Through Non-Occurrent Forms Through use of inappropriate structures of the language it is possible to teach errors to the students the following item: I __________ here since five o'clock. a) am being c) will be b) have been d) am be Option d clearly does not exist in any natural context in the English Language. The possibility exists that a learner, particularly at a beginning stage, might learn this form and entertain the thought that am may serve as an auxiliary of be. While it is necessary that options include incorrect forms as distractors, it is best that forms, like a and c above, have some possible appropriate environment in the language. ITEM CHARACTERISTICS


6 Trick Questions Use of trick questions must be avoided. As such items impair the motivation of the students, the credibility of the teacher, and the quality of the test. Their use is a distinct sign of poor pedagogy. Consider the following example: I did not observe him not failing to do his work because he was A) B) C) D) always working. ever conscientious. consistently lazy. Never irresponsible.

A quick glance at this item reveals that the stem contains a double negative structure that makes wider the bounds of normal English usage. Such items are frequently found to have negative inability; i.e., many of the better students e comparatively greater mastery of the Lexicon are cheated, while weaker students manage to pass perhaps by attending to the fact that option c is different from the other options. 7. Redundant Wording A common problem in item writing, particularly of multiple-choice type items, is needless repetition. An example would be the following: He went to school a) because he wanted to learn more. b) because he wanted to meet new friends. c) because he wanted to get a better job. d) because he wanted to please his parent Such an item is better written as follows: He went to school because he wanted to a) learn more. b) meet new friends. c) get a better job. d) please his parents. Items with redundant wording greatly reduce the efficiency of a test in that they reduce the amount of information available from a given period of time available for testing. 8. Divergence Cues In the writing of options for multiple choice type items it 16 important not to provide cues to students regarding the choice of the correct option. "Test-wise' students can often answer such items correctly without knowledge of the content these items are said to measure. Typical divergence cues may occur when one option gives greater length or specificity of information. Consider the following example:


In the story we know it was raining because a) the sky was dark. b) everyone insisted on wearing an overcoat and carrying an umbrella outside. c) it was that time of year. d) they heard thunder. Without having read the story, we would imagine that b was the correct answer merely because greater detail is offered. Option divergence of this kind is to be avoided. 9.Convergence Cues More subtle than divergence cueing is the since of convergence cueing. Here testwise students can identify the correct option because of content overlap. Look at the following example employing item options without an item stem: a) crawl b) creep c) brawl d) trudge Even without knowledge of the question or item, we may venture an educated guess that a) crawl is the correct option. The rationale behind this selection is that options a, c, and d refer to motion of a comparatively slow or simple type. Option c has as its only obvious commonality with other options the fact that it with option a. Distraction then has been employed of both a semantic and a phonological and the point of convergence is option a. It is astounding how many items can be correctly answered in this way without any attention to is being asked of the examinee. 10 Option Number It is not uncommon to find tests containing with insufficient or varying numbers of Multiple-choice or true-false type items r possible success due to random The fewer the options, the higher the of measurement error resulting from successful guessing. With a truefalse testing we should expect the students to score cent by guessing. True ability measurement would only take place in the scoring range from 51 to100 per cent. This implies that, for such tests a comparatively large number of items would be needed for accurate measurement. A problem related to that of insufficient options is that of irregularity in the numbers of options. Apart from an aesthetic issue, this irregularity also makes it impossible to apply various formulae for the correction of error due to guessing. In general it is best to be consistent in the numbers of options used for items within a test. TEST VALIDITY CONCERNS 11. Mixed Content A test can be said to be valid for a particular purpose only to the extent that it is found to accurately measure the content or ability concerned with that purpose. C1aims are


sometimes made for purposes served by a test which are not wholly consistent with the content of the test items. The following two items are offered by way of example. The first item was said to measure knowledge of verb tenses; the second was a vocabulary recognition item: He _________ the man yesterday. a) see c) will see b) saw d) is seeing The lady _______ to many cities in Europe last year. a) visited c) visits b) travelled d) climbed In the first example, purported to test tense we find option a actually measures knowledge of subject-verb agreement. Similarly, the second item, supposedly measuring vocabulary recognition includes option c testing tense. These kinds of inconsistencies make for invalid tests. 12.Wrong Medium Sometimes one encounters tests which require extensive skill in a response medium other than which is being tested. Consider reading comprehension questions that require accurate written responses to show comprehension of the passage. Research has indicated that such tests are invalid in the sense that they measure something other than what they are intended to measure (Henning, 1975). Care must be taken that the response medium be representative of the skill being tested. 13 Common Know1edge Items which require common knowledge responses should also be avoided. Consider the following comprehension item as an example: According to the story, Napolean was born in a) England b) France c)Germany d) Italy

Correct responding to such items does not impose the ability to comprehend a reading passage and therefore a high score on tests containing this kind of item may indicate some ability other than reading comprehension. 14. Syllabus Mismatch Perhaps the most common procedure that results in invalid achievement tests occurs when test content does not adequately measure instructional objectives or course content. We say a test lacks face or content validity when this happens. The teachers should have a systematic procedure for sampling course content when designing achievement tests. The course must fit the instructional objectives and the test as well should


reflect the instructional objectives by reference to vocabulary, structures and skills actually taught. 15. Content Matching A Word is in order about tests of comprehension, whether reading or listening, that require content matching. Mere matching of a word or phrase in a test item with the exact counter part in a comprehension passage does not necessarily entail comprehension. Memory length or recognition skills are involved, and these are also important. But they are not the same as comprehension. Tests involving such content matching tasks are usually invalid as measures of comprehension. ADMINISTRATIVE AND SCORING ISSUES 16. Lack of Cheating Controls Obviously when students obtain higher scores through cheating, tests are neither reliable nor valid. It is the responsibility of the teacher or the test administrator to prevent such activity. In some cultures there is less stigma attached to collaboration on tests. The teacher should take care to separate students and where possible use alternate forms of the test. These alternate forms may simply consist of forms with different item sequences, but wit the same exact items included. Such forms are then distributed in such a way that every other student in a row has a different form. This will effectively minimize cheating behavior. 17. Inadequate Instructions Instructions must be clear, both to the students and to any test administrators using the test. If the students fail to understand the task, their responses may be invalid in the sense that the students would have been able to supply the correct answers if they had understood the procedure. There is nothing inherent wrong from a measurement point of view with giving instructions in the native language, unless of course, it is a test of comprehending instructions in a foreign language. If the administrators fail to understand the exact procedure, there will be inequities of administration from group to group or administrator to administrator. Procedures should be carefully standardized even if it requires special training sessions for test administrators. 18. Administrative Inequities Not only can differing instructions to administrators result in administrative inequities but other factors as well may impair the reliability of the test. Consider the situation when lighting is poor for one class and for another, or when the test administrator instructions or comprehension passages at rent rates and volumes for different classes. This latter problem is sometimes solved by the use of high quality recording equipment. Care must be taken to prevent these inequities and others such as differential noise distractions, length of testing, time of day or supportiveness of administrators, etc. 19.Lack of Piloting It is important to try out the test on a restricted sample from the sample population


before use is made of the test. This will enable the examiner to be certain the time limits are appropriate, the difficulty is suited to the students, and the items themselves are functioning as they were intended. Many an embarrassing has been avoided by this simple step. Of course the pilot sample should be apart from the ultimate examinees to prevent practice effects and security breakdown. 20. Subjectivity of Scoring A final pervasive problem occurs when instructors give subjective, opinionated judgements of student performance. In composition scoring, for example, it has been found that judgements are often influenced by handwriting neatness. Other factors also may distort accurate judgment. Some judges or raters find themselves becoming more strict or more lenient as they proceed through the papers to be marked. In short, if reliance must be made upon subjective judgment, several mitigating procedures should be employed. Firstly, more than one judge should be consulted independently of marks assigned by other judges. The total of all judges ratings should become the mark of the student. Secondly, judges should make use of some precise rating schedule. A certain number of marks should be deducted for errors of specified type and number. In this way judges will be giving equal weight to the same kinds of performance. Finally, sufficient samples of language should be elicited from the students. In writing or speaking tests students should be given more than one topic to ensure that a more comprehensive picture is taken of their language use in a variety of situational contexts. These problems are surprisingly common in the preparation of classroom EFL tests. If they are avoided or resolved the quality of EFL testing will improve. Other problems may also be cited, but these are certainly among the more common.

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SILENCE IN THE LYCEES: The teaching and testing of reading comprehension CHRIS HICKEY The British Council/CPR Rabat INTRODUCTION: In giving this paper the title "Silence in the lycee " I am not trying to conjure up an image of deserted schools peopled only by ghosts of the past; nor of schools filled with terrified, unspeaking, none of that (you'll be pleased to hear). I mention "silence" only because reading is a silent process. All of the work goes on in the students' minds. . In this paper I would like to discuss with you how the teacher might analyse the reading process, and how he/she might teach the reading skill. WHY TEACH READING ANYWAY? But why teach reading anyway? Is it important (I know these philosophical questions are often the most painful but they're worth asking nevertheless). One answer is that you can't expect your students to write good Eng1igh if they have never read any. If you do, not only will their spelling be atrocious, but their style inappropriate. (They might write a letter beginning: Dear Sir, How are you? Nice day isnt it?") But there are more important than reasons than this. Understanding a complicated reading text is a very different skill from understanding spoken English. If your students go off to the faculty, they will be reading a lot of English. Or if they find a job in a scientific or technical field - for example, down at Essaouira as a petroleum engineer - in Fez as a doctor - they'll often be reading English because many technical document are written In English .In fact, it is the case with many scientists that the ability to read English is actually more important than the need to speak it. But there is another more immediate reason too, which is the baccalaureate exam. As you know this is an exam which has a reading text as one of its major elements. And it would be unfair to ask your students to take an exam which tests something different to what you taught them. That would be breaking the maxim (which I have put as paragraph one of the handout) "test what you teach - teach what you test". WHY IS TEACHING READING NEGLECTED? I emphasize this last point because teaching reading is often neglected in the Lycees. Why my honest answer to that question is that I don't know, but I'm willing to guess. One reason might be, I think that the audio-lingual tradition (teaching listening and speaking) continues to have such a strong hold. And this is understandable. For students the ability to speak and understand spoken English will remain important and motivating. (And it's a pity, perhaps, that the baccalaureate exam doesn't recognise this fact by including an oral test of same kind). But that's by the way. The fact remains that the emphasis on teaching the oral language, and the emphasis on the old idea that "nothing should be read before it has been spoken" means that teaching reading has been a bit neglected. And the time has come to redress the balance. Teaching students to read in English is important and valuable.


If we are going to teach something, we need to be aware first of ail of what we are teaching; How do we teach reading at present? Again, I don't know the full answer to this question as I'm only familiar with Lycees in Rabat, but I think that the traditional lesson may be described as I've outlined it on the handout - in paragraph 3. First the teacher teaches some structures, then vocabulary, to prepare the students for the text. Then the students listen while the teacher reads the text out loud. Then there are general questions on the text; students Listen a second time; then there are specific questions and extended questions. It is only all after all this that the students read the text, if they do at all - by which time they know very well what it contains. Then if there is time they may be asked to read the text out loud themselves (but this, of course, is more a speaking activity). True reading is something silent which takes place in the mind. The traditional lesson I have described is a valuable way of introducing new structures, and is one way of teaching comprehension (Meziani made many valuable suggestions) - but it does not help the students to learn to read. The medical student reading an English textbook; the English student reading a novel or the poor old student taking the baccalaureate exam-does he have a teacher there with him to explain vocabulary and structures he doesn't know? We should be teaching our students how to read without the teacher's help. Not in every lesson, of course, but it is something we should not neglect as much as often happens now. THE READING PROCESS Right; so by now we have examined why we should be teaching reading. That's the easy bit the next part is more difficult: How do we do it? It is valuable, I think, to look briefly at how native-speakers read. What are English people doing when they read English? What are Moroccans doing when they read a Moroccan newspaper? You might like to look at this point at paragraph 4 of the handout). 1) First of all, people read with a purpose they will read a newspaper for information, a novel for pleasure. They will read the 'MATE' programme to find out what's happening next. I've been reading a guide book to find out the best places to visit near El Jadida on Friday. 2) Secondly, people do read a text with no idea what's on it. They predict. If you see a newspaper article entitled "President Mitterand to visit Morocco" you bring with it your own ideas of who Mitterand is, why he is coming to Morocco, that he will stay with King Hassan, and so on. You already have an idea of what you will read before you start. Then, when you start reading, you begin by identifying the letters and the vowels. If you have a problem with a word or a sentence you can read it again. You can also use the context to help you understand. For example, if I ask you, "What is a Sanuker?" you say, "I don't know". (I hope). But in a sentence, "The Sanuker which he caught was so large that it broke the net as he tried to pull it into his boat", you say, it's a fish" (I hope). Similar PAT M'ELDOWNEY s POINT (Weavers + birds) Words depend for their meaning on context


It is only after you have done all these things, silently examining the text, that you select the information you think is important. If you live in Marrakech, and you notice that King Hassan and Mitterand will be arriving at the station at 5:00, you may decide to go and watch them arrive. Or as I read about El Jadida, I see that the Old Portuguese city sounds interesting, so I decide to go there. I am, as it were, answering questions which I set myself before I started. DEVELOPING THE STIUDENTS' ABILITY TO PEAD So, and now we come to the important part: how can we help our students to develop the ability to read? It's worth saying at this point that; of course, there can be different objectives for different reading lessons. And I have put some down as paragraph 5 of the handout. You can give a reading text: a) as a way of practising structures and vocabulary which the students know already (this is particularly valuable in the 5eme and early 6eme. b) Secondly, to develop you students' ability to read without the teachers help (this is more important in the 6eme and 7eme). c) Thirdly; to give a model for good writing. In this paper, I am going to concentrate on the second of those objectives, developing your students ability to read and understand without the teacher's help. And first of all, I'd like to suggest two things not to do. First of all, there's no need to teach all the difficult structures and new vocabulary. You might want to teach 2 or 3 important words, but the important principle is that you should tell your students to work out the meaning for themselves from the context. "The Sanuker which brook the net" is quite clear. (I hope). In this way you are just teaching vocabulary, you are teaching students how to read. And the second thing not to do. Don't just say, please read the text".....Give your students a clear reason for reading, just as a native-speaker has a reason for reading. And we'll talk about how to do that in a moment. A READING LESSON If you look at paragraph 6 of your handout, you will find an outline, one possible outline, for a reading lesson. It's all very well talking about the theory, but what's most important is what happens in the classroom. (It is this, "ways of giving a reading comprehension lesson", which forms the subject of the workshop.) Before your students start to read the text say one called "A happy week in El Jadida", you can set the scene first. Discuss where El Jadida is, what sort of town it is. Get you students to predict the sort of things which a visitor to a strange town might do. Then give your students a clear purpose for reading. A good way of doing this is to


give them now a number of pre-questions: that is, tell them now the questions which you will be asking them after they have read the text. They can prepare the answers to the questions while they are reading. The type of questions you ask is important, and that is something we sha1l come back to in a moment. Then, set a time limit. You do not want half of your class finished and ready to go home while the other half are still reading the title. For a 7eme class with a fairly long text and same fairly difficult questions you might give 15 or 20 minutes for them to read the text and prepare the answers to the questions. The actual reading time is when we have silence. But it is a silence when, we hope, the students' minds are working hard. After all, reading takes place in the mind not in the mouth. Actually, I don't think that you really have to insist on absolute silence. If a student wants to ask the teacher for help; I hope you'll go along and give it. Some teachers even like to let their students work together in pairs to find the answers. When the fixed reading period is over the teacher will ask for answers to the prequestions. It is at this stage that you can deal with any difficult vocabulary. If a student can't answer question No. 2 because he doesn't know what a Sanuker is, you say, "Came on, guess. The Sanuker which he caught was so large that it broke his net as he tried to pull it into the boat". In this way, you are teaching your students how to read a text for themselves. You are not just teaching isolated language. The extension stage, what you do to follow on from the reading is up to you. You could ask more questions on the text; or you might start a discussion about the subject of the text ("Have you been to El Jadida?"); or you might ask for an oral summary; or a written summary for homework. This would allow the students to practise their writing while using some of the new vocabulary they have learnt. I am sure that these are things which you do already, from time to time. QUESTIONS THAT TEST" AND QUESTIONS THAT TEACH" Before I finish, I would like to look briefly at the type of questions you can ask. In the handout; in paragraph 7, there is a short list of two types of questions. "Questions that test" And questions that teach. The first on the list are the more traditional ones that we are familiar withand there is nothing at all wrong with these. If you are using a book like Have a Go; it is quite straight forward to say to your students, Read the text called 'A storm at sea and answer the questions in Exercise B. Doing it that way (after setting the scene, and giving a time limit) means that your students have a clear reason for reading the text, and know exactly what the teacher Wants for them. This is a technique you can use in the 6eme with Donn Byrne's Intermediate Comprehension Passages. If you are using a book like English Texts, which does not have any questions, then the easiest type of pre-questions to give (that is the questions you give before students read the text) may be true/false questions. These are easy, to construct and to write on the blackboard. (By the way, students enjoy answering pre-questions, and this is a technique you can also use in your normal listening comprehension lessons when the teacher reads the text aloud). Meziani mentioned this point yesterday and it's a good one.


"Questions that teach" are more interesting. The problem with ordinary comprehension questions like what was Mrs Jones' shopping bag-made of? is that often it doesn't really matter and it doesnt really help the students to understand. They help the teacher to see whether a student has understood a particular point (often a difficult structure or a new word) but that's al1. But we shouldn't be testing our students in this way every 1esson. We should be helping our students to learn how to do things. If you want a type of question which helps the students to understand the text you read questions which, once you have all the answers, tell the story of the text again in a simple way. You can do this with True/False questions if you choose them well. Or even with a "complete the sentence to describe an event in the text" if you choose those well. Another nice way is to give the students a diagram or chart to complete. For instance, in a text about Making orange-juice in Casablanca you could ask the students to fill in a chart which shows the stages of the process. (They. are. relatively easy to draw on the blackboard.) Another type of "question that teaches" is to put a short summary of the text on the b1ackboard, but with a blank every 7 or 8 words. Students have to find words to fill in the blanks. This activity is particularly valuable in helping students to develop their ability to guess the meaning of words from their context. It's similar to "sanuker-"What is a sanuker?" except that there is a gap instead of a nonsense word. (Doesnt have to follow a text can be activity in its own right). There are many types of exercise like this. What is important is that once the students find the answers to the questions, those answers should give a summary of the whole text. This last point is crucial. If the answers give a summary of the whole text, not only have you helped your students to understand it, but the answers can be used as an excellent stimulus for a written composition. This is one of the things I would like to have a look at in a practical way in the workshop. Its worth mentioning here, in passing, that your activity should be related to the purpose of the text. It's okay helping students to summarise a newspaper article or a story but do not ask them to summarise a menu, or a bus ticket or electricity bill. CONCLUSION: The end approaches. I hope that I have given a clear outline of how you might organise a reading comprehension lesson. I hope, too, that I have persuaded you of the value of such an approach. Not only does it help your students to develop their ability to read but there is the added advantage that you can give students texts which are more difficult than the ones you use for listening comprehension. A lot of teachers, I know, have found Have a Go very useful in the way texts are followed by a wide variety of questions and exercises - but some say that the texts are too difficult for their students. My advice would be to try giving the texts as reading comprehension texts (after all, many of them are taken from newspapers. Newspapers are meant to be read silently, not out loud to 45 people) and you will find students manage much better. Students will learn how to read difficult texts, and will also develop a much wider vocabulary.


(The same is true in the 6ieme, of course, if you think an interesting text will be too difficult for your students to understand if the teacher reads it aloud for them, then you might consider using it as in a reading comprehension lesson.) By starting to teach reading as a skill in the 6ieme and 7ieme, not only will you be preparing your students better for the baccalaureate exam, but you will be preparing them better for the Faculty and the outside world in general. They wont always have their teacher there to help them. I am hoping to look at the ideas we have discussed here-basically, how to organise a good R/C lesson - in a more practical way in the workshop, but in the meantime, any comment you may have are very welcome. (Thank you very much)


SILENCE IN THE LYCEES The teaching and teaching of reading comprehension. 1. Test what you teach teach what you test 2. The traditional audio-lingual view was that nothing should be read before it has been spoken. This led to a neglect of teaching reading as a skill. 3. An Outline of a Good, Traditional Lesson: 1. Pre-teach structures 2. Pre-teach vocabulary 3. Students LISTEN to text. (teacher reads) 4. General questions 5. Students LISTEN again. 6. Specific questions 7. Extended questions 8. Students READ the text silently OR they read the text aloud. 4. The Reading Process. How Do Native-Speakers read? Before reading. 1. They have a purpose for reading 2. They predict what the text contains. Reading 1. They identify letters and words 2. They re-read if necessary 3. They use the context to help them understand 4. They select the meaning 5. Different Objectives for a Reading Lesson: 1. To reinforce structures and vocabulary which you have just taught (particularly valuable in 5ieme) . 2. To develop your students ability to read and understand without the teachers help (this is useful in the 7ieme). 3. To give a model for good writing. 6. An outline for a Reading Lesson: Before reading 1. Set the scene/Predict from title 2. Set pre-questions 3. Set a time-limit Reading 4. Students READ silently (and prepare answers) After reading 5. Class answers pre-questions 6. Teacher deals with any difficulties 7. Extension/Follow-up

7. Questions That Test and Questions That Teach Testing questions 1. Open questions/comprehension questions 2. Multiple-choice questions - to test vocabulary - to test structures


3. True/False questions 4. Complete the sentence to describe an event in the text. 5. Fill in the blanks ....and many more. Have a Go is particularly rich in its variety of questions. Variety is important to prevent boredom Teaching questions 1. The important point is that all the answers together should give a summary of the meaning of the text. (See workshop) 2. The questions need not be in the form of questions as such, but may involve completing a chart or drawing a diagram for instance. Suspected murderer held by police. (Sunday Blurb 18 July 1982) A man being questioned last night about a series of murders in Yorkshire will be charged with at least one serious offence by West Yorkshire police today. He was arrested short after 11:00 p.m. on Friday in the red light area of Sheffield by two uniformed police officers on an anti-vice patrol. Police said last night that a woman who was with him at the time was also being questioned. The Chief Constable of West Yorkshire, Mr. Ronald Gregory, last night told a packed press conference in Dewsbury: I can tell you we are absolutely delighted at developments today/ Mr. Gregory said that soon after the Sheffield officers had detained the man West Yorkshire police were contacted. On Friday evening PC Hydes and Sergeant Ring were making a routine patrol when they recognised on a car some number plates that had been stolen two months earlier in West Yorkshire. PC Hydes joined the police only ten months ago for better prospects from the engineering industry. Early today he told a press conference: After checking the vehicle we found that the plates were false and went to tell the man that he was being arrested for suspicion of theft of the plates. Outline of a reading comprehension lessen 1. Set the scene. Predict from title 2. Pre-questions on blackboard (See Exercise A) 3. Set a time-limit for reading 4. Students READ silently, and look for answers (in pairs?) 5. Class discusses correct answers, and teacher deals with any difficulties. 6. Follow-on (sec Exercise B) 7. (Homework?) Writing (sec Exercise C) EXERCISE A In this exercise students must find out whos who e.g. They arrested him is Two uniformed officers arrested the man. 1. They arrested him 2. They will charge him 3. They questioned him 4.They questioned her 5. He told them that they were delighted 6. They contacted them 7. He joined them 8. They recognised them 9. He stole them 10. He told them how they arrested them


EXERCISE B Put the sentences from Exercise A into chronological order. 1. In October 1980: 2. In May 1981: 3. Just before 11:00 p.m. on Friday 16th July: 4. Just after 11:00 p.m. 5. Soon afterwards: 6. On Saturday 7. 8. 9. 10.Today: EXERCISE C (Homework?) Now write a paragraph using the sentences from Exercise B. Material supplied by Mike Beaumont Manchester University. Adapted by Chris Hickey for MATE 1983.


QUESTIONS 1. Q. Concerning the chart questions, would students have to complete it with a missing sketch, or write the various processes in note form? Could you explain this method a little more fully? A. If you put the picture on the blackboard, suggest to them to put a tick on some words about the picture or write in their own words what happens. It all depends on your students. Q. Most teachers take the audio-lingual method as a doctrine but dont know what it is about; what are the skills it stresses and what are the shortcomings of this method? Would you give a short definition of the audio-lingual method? A. We dont need to teach the student how to read in the foreign language because they have acquired this ability in their mother tongue and in French. The audiolingual method is a method that breaks the language down into small items, structures etc... and brings the students to repeat, to reconstruct it little by little. When you read in your mother tongue language, you know really all the words-matter of skill. In English you have teach the students to transfer these skills into English. 5. Q. Up to now the following process has been emphasized - every skill of the four skills should be dealt with separately. Dont you think that we cant help avoiding teaching all of them all together since they are inter-linked and interwoven? You explained how the reading can be taken as model for writing. I think that reading has also a strong relation with speaking. But some teachers differentiate between what is written and what we actually say. What can you say about the matter? A. As far as reading goes, there must be a time when the students mind is working and nothing else helps in integrating skills. Reading skill is not isolated (you can help the student by asking him for an oral or a written summary). Q. How would you use readers in Moroccan lycees? A. First, keep in mind enjoyment as a constant purpose. Second, a period should include reading + enjoyment + discussion. Q. In extensive reading, how would you use silence in the classroom, which, I think would be rather a long silence? In other words, would you teach extensive reading? A. This was a True/False question - the teacher should insist on absolute silence during the reading period. Yes, to a certain point, the teacher should insist on silence while reading. But after a while, there is absolutely no objection that the students ask questions to the teacher or have pairs talking. 6. Q. (Unanswered question) Dont you think that setting pre-questions to students drives them to concentrate on parts of the text which answer your pre-questions and forget about the rest of the text?




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A PLACE FOR VISUALS IN LANGUAGE TESTING Dr. Patricia McEldowney University of Manchester INTRODUCTION If we consider the type of English that is currently used as a medium of education here and overseas and also as the medium of the day-to-day conduct of an English-speaking society, we find that, in both its spoken and written forms, verbal communication of information is commonly associated with the use of non-verbal communication devices. For instance, either in a text-book or at a lecture, a geographical description of Volcanoes may be accompanied by photographs of typical examples or by diagrams showing various types of core formation; an historical account 0f the Battle of Waterloo may be accompanied by a map summarising the progress of events; in biology, a tabulation summarising the characteristics of living organisms may be used to introduce a detailed discussion of each; in chemistry, a description of how to prepare and collect electolytic gas may be accompanied by a diagram to show how to set up the relevant apparatus; or in physics, a graph may be used to show how the volume of a fixed mass of water changes with temperature. Similarly, in the world outside the educational institution a person asked to give a stranger directions to the Post Office may illustrate what he is saying with a rough sketch map; a set of instructions for operating a vacuum cleaner is usually accompanied by a set of diagrams to aid communication; a newspaper report of unrest in some part of the world may be illustrated by a map to pin-point the area and photographs of events; weather reports in newspapers or on television are commonly accompanied by weather maps; and so on. This interdependence of verbal and non-verbal information devices would suggest; that a test of the type of language involved might well not be complete without the inclusion of an element which will enable the candidate to demonstrate his familiarity with the typically associated range of non-verbal displays. We note at this point, however, that the real-world relationship between the two types of information device must be altered if a valid language test is to be developed. In the examples cited above, the two stand side-by-Bide to supplement each other, the one rendering the other to some extent redundant. If our primary aim is to test linguistic behaviour, we must ensure that in a test of reading or listening comprehension, for instance, our candidates are responding to language rather than finding the meaning in accompanying visuals. This can be achieved by the separation of the two types of information device. So, for instance, candidates may read a text on the classification of different types of volcanic core and then be asked to label a set of blank diagrams as one type or another. Successful labelling would indicate understanding of the language of the text as well as demonstrating a familiarity with the type of diagram used. It is the contention of this paper that visuals used in the way just described have a valuable role to play in the development of valid language tests, a role which extends far beyond a demonstration of familiarity with non-verbal information devices. Let us now examine this role in more detail.


COMPREHENSION It is obvious that to produce a valid test we must be able to identify what it is exactly that we are testing. Towards this end, we note that in a piece of English there are two types 0f information and that a consideration of the relationship between the two highlights some central aspects of the comprehension skill. In the following extract, for instance, items communicating content or real-world knowledge are italicised: Of the perianth, the corolla is inside the calyx. This section of the flower.... Now, though he may not know the words perianth, corolla and calyx, the skilled reader can work out from the extract that they are parts of a flower. His main tool for doing this is the second type of information in the extract -the language information. First of all, the marker the, together with its position in a position group, indicates that perianth refers to an object. Then, the linkers this and of associate it with the word flower. Similarly, corolla and calyx are marked as nouns by the and their relative sentence positions while the language item of indicates that corolla and calyx are parts of the perianth. In addition, the language item inside indicates the relative positions of the calyx and the corolla. In this way, language information signals the type of referent of each content item and also indicates the relationships between them. We note here that to have known the information about the perianth, calyx and corolla as expressed in the extract would indicate the possession of learning. Not to have known but to have been able to find out in the way described above indicates the possession of a tool for learning. Seen in this way, therefore, the ability to use language to discover content seems to be a very basic comprehension skill worthy of testing. How might we go about developing such a test? In light of the discussion above this can probably most clearly be illustrated with regard to a text like Globbes in which the content items are unknown to us. Globbes The four trug jigs of the globbe are the colls, the solls, the pals and the tals. They are in wongs, one inside the other. First, there are the colls in the centre with the solls around them. Outside the solls is the polnth. Where the polnth has two wongs, the jigs of the outer Wong are the pals which tote the calyth. The jigs inside this are the tals toting the colnth. In an attempt to test candidates skills with regard to using their language knowledge to discover content, we might ask questions like:


Test Type A i) What are the four trug jigs of the globbe? ii) Where are the solls? iii) What totes the colnth? It can be argued that success in finding the answers to such questions demonstrates some skill in using language knowledge. For instance, in i), a solution which provides a noun shows a response of the correct sort to the question word what; the provision of four nouns shows a response to the code item four; the solution colls, solls, pals and tals shows, in addition, an ability to match the general sentence structure of the question and the statement in the text. In ii), the provision of a preposition group shows a response of the appropriate type to the question word where; the candidate who provides the groups around them demonstrates further an awareness of general sentence structure; and the provision of around the colls shows, in addition, an awareness of the function of them to refer back to colls. In this way then we may be able to find some evidence of grammatical skill. Can we be sure, however, that the correct response necessarily demonstrates anything more than mechanical manipulation? We note that it is quite possible that correct responses are triggered by information in the question and a familiarity with a manipulative technique rather than being a demonstration of any real processing of the information in the text. For instance, test questions of the type illustrated in A will be no problem to candidates who have had classroom practice (oral or written) similar to: Answer the questions. Example: Is the rope around the parcel? Yes, its around the parcel? Is the table in the corner? Is the tree in the garden? or Look at the picture and answer the questions. Example: Where is the pond? The pond is in the park. Where is the bird? Where is the tree? or Make some questions. Example: The two boys are in the tree. Are the two boys in the trees? The four cats are in the basket. The three pencils are in the box. Such practice constantly pairs question and statement forms so that, given on correct response is to produce the other and it is not clear from a comprehension test incorporating the same principle whether a candidate is capable of producing the appropriate answer if he does not have the relevant information supplied in the question. That is, it is not clear to what extent he really understands the text.


In an attempt, therefore; to ensure a demonstration of some processing of the information we might develop: Test Type B i) List the components of the globbe. ii) What surrounds the colls? iii) Describe the construction of the colnth. In these questions a rephrasing of the concepts expressed in the text demands a greater understanding from the candidate. So, in i), for instance, the use of the synonym components for jigs eliminates a direct due from the question. The knowledge of the appropriate response to the Instruction List . . . together with a response to the noun + S form (components), an awareness that the question is being asked about the globbe and a knowledge that, where globbe occurs in are sentence, the relevant information follows the verb are all factors that will help a successful candidate to produce colls, solls, pals and tals. Thus, without a knowledge of the word components, a candidate who produces the appropriate response is more likely demonstrating a spontaneous use of his language knowledge than was the case in Test Type A. We note, however, that if a candidate had known the meaning of components and if he had known that it is a synonym for jigs, he would have had a content due in the question to direct him to the relevant sentence in the text. Now, it is clear that though language information is the basic tool for finding content, the more content items a reader or listener has at his command, the more efficient is his comprehension. For instance, if in the first sentence of the Globbes text we know two more of the content items: The four trug parts of the flower are the colls... our comprehension task would have been easier. That is, in real-life the efficient reader uses a combination of language information and known content to discover unknown content. It would seem, therefore, that a clue in the question of the type illustrated by components in B i) and surrounds in B ii) is justifiable in a way that the one-to-one relationship illustrated in Test Type A is not. We note now that B iii) (Describe the colnth) goes even further than B i) and Bu) in eliminating dues from the question. The candidate must here, in response to the instruction Describe . . . gather several pieces of relevant information and put them together in his own form: There are sometimes two wongs in the polnth. The outside one is the colnth. It is toted by the tals. This, however, highlights a difficulty for the examiner that is inherent, to a lesser degree, in all of the other items illustrated in A and B. In B iii), though we might agree on the relevant number of points, different candidates will express them in very different ways and examiners responses to these will also be very different. This situation is likely to demand subjective judgements from individual examiners as to whether responses are correct or not. Moreover, the questions demand a verbal response. Many candidates may make grammatical mistakes - a further potentially subjective decision for the examiner. We can ignore such grammatical mistakes in our marking and so go some way towards isolating the comprehension skill. Even if we do this, however, we are not going far enough towards ensuring that poor productive skills do not hinder the demonstration of comprehension.


Though certain candidates may understand the text, their productive skills may be too weak to enable them to demonstrate even a small proportion of their understanding. It can be seen therefore, that the rephrased question type of B should be made objective. A common solution is that demonstrated below: Test Type C Tick the appropriate box. i) The main parts of the globbe are the: wongs, solls, polnth, jigs colls, solls, pals, tals calyth, jigs, tals, colnth pals, tals, calyth, colnth


In the globbe the sols surround the: tals colls polnth calyth The colnth is formed by a circle of: tals pals polnths calyths


Though we have, in this way, allowed for objectivity, Test Type C embodies another problem also inherent in A and B. All three types of questioning are fragmentary. On the whole, we read and listen for two main reasons. At times we wish to follow exactly what is being said. On other occasions we wish to find information that is incidental to the speaker or writers purpose. In the latter case we might, for instance; skim through an outline of the events leading up to the sinking of Bismarck in World War II merely to find the names of the ships involved ignoring the sequence of events. In this case the skill of isolating fragmentary detail seems to be of relevance and it may well be that Test Type C is valid from this point of view. It seems clear, however, that we also need to test whether candidates can follow a writer or speakers intent. In this case we require a demonstration of an awareness of the wholesome demonstration of how individual parts fit together. Let us now consider the passage Globbes from this point of view.



It seems that, in this description of the jigs of the globbe, the writer is concerned to

both a set of relationships of parts to the whole and a spatial arrangement. In Test Type C items i) and iii) emphasise the first concept while ii) deals with spatial arrangement. The same is true of A and B i) and ii). We note in B iii), however, there is an attempt to broaden the question so that it covers both of the authors purposes. The constraints of objectivity already discussed, however make it very difficult to construct global questions in the genne illustrated by C. It is, however possible to get closed to an awareness of the whole: Test Type D i) Use the words in the box to complete the diagram: calyth, colls, colnth, pals, polnth, solls, tals

[Tree diagram to go here] ii) a complete the key. To do this use words from the box below calyth, colls colnth, pals, polnth solls, tals [Concentric diagram and .key to go here]

ii) b Find suitable words for the circles labelled A, B, C, and D in the diagram. Use words from the box above to complete the following. Write X if there is no suitable word. Circle A = Circle B = Circle C = Circle D = Circles A + B = Circles B + C = Circles C + D = We note, at this point, that the display for i) is more abstract than that for ii). We could offer a third alternative which would be even less abstract. We could provide a drawing of a flower


and ask candidates to label the parts. In this way we can test an awareness of the whole as well as that of spatial arrangement at whatever level of abstractness seems appropriate to cur particular candidates. Moreover, Test Type D does this while still maintaining the criteria of the elimination of overt dues from the question, of objectivity and of the elimination of verbal production. We now note a further important advantage of Test Type D. With appropriate language skill it is possible to produce correct verbal responses to questions like those illustrated in C without there being any assurance of a real-world knowledge of the forms being used. For instance, we might read John drew a rectangle, coloured it green and added a cross flunger the bottom trig corner. and respond correctly with flunger the bottom trig corner to the question Where did John Draw the cross? We would however, be at a loss if asked to draw Johns diagram. The move from verbal to non-verbal information illustrated in Test Type D, thus, gives the candidate the opportunity to demonstrate his ability to visualise the relevant spatial relationship and so indicate a degree of real-world or content understanding. PRODUCTION If comprehension can be defined as a means of using language and known content to discover new content either for ones own purpose or to mirror the authors purpose, production; in both the spoken and written modes, can be defined as the skill of using language and content information to fulfil a specific purpose. For instance, given a body of information about coracles, the production of instructions for making one, or a description of its appearance, or a classification of various types, or a narration of how one was used on a particular occasion will each require use of a cluster of different language items and a different organisation of the content information (see McEldowney P. Test In English (Overseas) The position after ten years, Joint Matriculation Board, OP 36, September, 1976) If we wish to assess the tools of such expression, it is important, as indicated above in the discussion about the testing of comprehension, that we isolate the thing we wish to test in such a way that our impression of linguistic performance is not blurred by any extraneous factors. Let us consider how this might be carried out. Test Type E Describe how to make a coracle Describe what a coracle looks like

i) ii)

Items like this thought directed towards a specific purpose; demand a prior knowledge of coracles. If we intend to test such knowledge, then these items might well be valid -perhaps in local history or general studies paper. If, however, we intend to test language proficiency; a candidate who has no knowledge of coracles has nothing: to write about and so cannot


demonstrate his productive skill. Does this mean our choice of topic is at fault? Can we, rather, choose topics previously prepared or topics known to be within the experience of our candidates? In either case we are asking candidates to depend on memory of content and cannot in fact, be sure that a lucky questions-spotter has not learned an essay or speech off by heart. We have not in fact isolated the ability to use production tools from some closely associated assessment of content knowledge. It would seem; from this point of view, that; as is implicit in the discussion of comprehension testing above ; the choice of a topic which is largely unfamiliar to our candidates might well provide us with a better means of isolating the language tools we wish to test. This suggests that our test item needs to provide the basic information to be used in the production task. We might do this by providing a text and asking questions of the type illustrated above in B iii) or by asking candidates to write a prcis of the text. Such tasks, however, place too great a reliance on comprehension skills and are no more valid, therefore, than Test Type E in isolating production skills. Moreover, they allow for the (verbatim) copying of stretches of the original and the organisation of the original more often than not provides the framework of organisation for the candidate to follow. This is not likely to allow the candidate to demonstrate spontaneously language and organisation skills appropriate to a specific task. Valuable alternatives seem to be to i) supply a set of construction diagrams together with the rubric: Say how to make a coracle or ii) supply a picture of a coracle with the rubric Describe what a coracle looks like or iii) supply a sequence of pictures outlining a story with the rubric: Tell the story of Old Joe and his coracle It is the contention of this paper that, when the basic information is provided for candidates in a non-verbal form, they are more able to demonstrate their spontaneous use of language forms and their ability to organise information in a manner appropriate to the task indicated by the rubric and that they are able to do this with minimum reliance on verbal comprehension in such a way that they demonstrate their familiarity with non-verbal information devices.



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From Language Testing , ed . Heaton J.B . , Modern English Publications Ltd .Test 14

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ARE YOU TEACHING REASTENING COMPREHENSION? Ahmed Meziani Perhaps I should start by explaining what has led me to choose this topic for my talk today. In the course of my work at the Ecole Normale Superieure in Rabat, I visit lots of teachers and trainees in various lycees of the capital. The way a reading text is usually handled by these teachers is something like this: The teacher explains the vocabulary and structure items that he or she has judged to be difficult in a way that never changes presentation, drilling, exploitation. This phase usually lasts 30-40 minutes; but sometimes it lasts much more. The teacher then reads the text aloud while the students listen with their books closed. When he finishes reading, he asks the usual question 'Have you understood? and gets the usual answer: blank faces on a flat 'no. The teacher then re-reads the text. This time he does not ask whether the text has been understood or not. The assumption is that it has. Right then the teacher bombards his class with questions. Question to which the right answer is not always given right away. A clear sign that something has gone wrong somewhere. The bell rings. The teacher still has a list of question he has not had time to ask. The class is dismissed. What has the teacher done here? To some it was teaching Reading Comprehension. To others it was listening comprehension. In actual fact it was neither. Or perhaps it was both at the same time, Hence; the title for this talk and the coined phrase Reastening comprehension . What I would like to do now is to share with you some ideas that underlie Listening Comprehension. I have tried to concentrate my talk on listening comprehension because it is an activity that is neglected in our schools. The ideas expressed in this paper are not new. They are based on practical observation and some introspection and are a reiteration and synthesis of ideas proposed by other specialists in the field. The first thing that comes to mind is that the way listening comprehension is taught presents some problems. As native speakers of our language, if we join two or more people who are having a conversation, it way take us some time before we can join in and know what the people are talking about. We may of course understand the words of the conversation, but not what is going on. Also, it is not characteristic of life to hear things twice. I am here referring to the two readings - and sometimes more- by the teacher. Another thing that is not characteristic of life is when the teacher presents the students with key words and structures beforehand. What we are doing here is presenting the learner to a double set of information. We are not really teaching him to listen. To my mind, this kind of work is artificial. It is artificial because of the choice of text. Texts chosen for listening comprehension are mostly written texts and not spoken language. Yet, we all know that written language differs from spoken language in many respects. Spoken language for example; is typically more repetitive than written language; it is more redundant, more diffuse-Expression like "it seems to me; I mean ; you see", "you know and hesitations like er; humare abundant in spoken discourse and almost nonexistent in written language. Hence, the unacceptability of written language for Listening Comprehension. The kind of work done in our schools is also artificial because the problem of answering a series of questions and sometime reconstituting what one has just heard is not a situation which arises in the normal course of events The student's attitude, during this kind of listening is very passive and it is rare to see them keep up their attention for more than a minute or two. What is more, most students know that listening of this kind is a school rather


than life activity. When we listen to something we usually listen to it for a particular purpose, but certainly not for answering questions afterwards. And often, we already know a great deal about what we are going to hear. As human beings, we bring a certain experience to the conversation. That experience is formed at least by our knowledge of the speaker, the addressee, the situation and the topic. First the speaker. 1. The speaker: We need to know who is doing the talking. Knowledge of the speaker helps us form better ideas of the subject. The more we know about the speaker the better ideas we form of the topic of conversation. We work on stereotypes. We do not come with the same expectations if we listen to the iron lady (Mrs. Thatcher) or to the miners' union leader, Mr. Arthur Scarghill. 2. The addressee: Similarly, we need to know who the speaker is talking to. Is it a monologue such as what is going on now, with a lecturer talking to an audience, or is it a conversation between two or more people? Let me illustrate. If you have very little knowledge of what I am talking about right now, i.e. Listening Comprehension in the Moroccan Lycee, you are unlikely to remember much detail and you may well get me wrong. You may understand and remember a particular point rather than the main point I am trying to make simply because what you remember is related to something in your own experience. If, on the other hand, you know quite a bit already of what I'm talking about, as I'm sure you do, then you are going to remember a great deal of detail, and what's more you are going to form an opinion about accept and refute what I'm saying. 3. Situations and Topic: Our knowledge of the situation and the topic also helps in our understanding of spoken discourse. Asking for an address in a strange town .for example; we do not remember everything. We carry on asking other people. Asking for an address in a town we know is different. We can remember well because we have points of reference we can attach the new information to. The idea of the points of reference is best illustrated, I think, by the newsbroadcast. Against the background of some shared knowledge that is both linguistic and cultural we have: 1. 2. 3. The headlines The News itself a) the events in Lebanon b) our man in Beirut reports The headlines again

Conclusion from all this. It is important to familiarize our students with the topic before we ask them to listen, let alone before we ask them to answer our questions. So, and to repeat myself, the more we know about the speaker, the addressee, the situation and the topic, the more prepared we are to appreciate and understand the text. However, we may well tell the students who; he speaker is, who the addressee is what the situation and topic are, and yet they may not understand what is going on. Consider for a moment what happens when we read a professional paper: we have the title, the abstract, the body of the article itself and even a summary. All this and yet it may be difficult for us to follow what is in the paper. What we need therefore, besides what I have just talked about is relevance and interest to read and understand the paper. We should therefore stimulate this interest in our students.


II PREPARING LISTENING COMPRHENSION : As it is possible to hear and not listen, it is also possible to listen and not understand. We should therefore aim at TEACHING listening comprehension before TESTING it. From what has preceded, it seems obvious that in preparing our students for Listening comprehension; for listening with understanding; we need to tell them who the speaker and addressee are and what the situation and topic are. We need to ask our students what they expect these to say, to think, to feel Students say what they expect; then they listen to the tape or the teacher to find out. The lesson is thus built on the notion of prediction. Prediction of content, not from. We all operate on this principle in real life. How many a time can we finish an utterance for the speaker? We must there fore help our students to bring into play some of the factors that operate in native language comprehension: prediction is such a factor. Other factors may be toleration for vagueness and ambiguity; deduction from context, etc. It is important also that Listening Comprehension exercises do not overload the memory. Studies in L1 and L2 acquisition have revealed a considerable gap between the language learners understanding and his production. So, when we ask a student a question after a listening task and he does not answer; we should not take this as a sign that the student has not understood. It may simply be a sign that he has not remembered. In other words; the student's inability to recall the text or part of the text may not be an indication of failure of his aural comprehension, but merely an indication of a too heavy load on his memory. In this case, short bursts of language are better for teaching and testing Listening Comprehension than longer pieces of discourse. There should be a change, I think, in our expectation of what we want our students to do in a listening Comprehension exercise, and the goals we set for ours elves and our learners, will in turn affect the type of activity which is used. Students find it difficult to rely on their ear alone and seem to lose interest very quickly when they hear something they do not understand and; I think, we teachers are partly to blame for this. If we make it a habit to isolate and explain, new structures and vocabulary items beforehand, we are helping our students to rely on this habit. What we should help them with instead is teaching them that it is only natural that some elements in the message will be lost either because the amount of information conveyed is too much or because it cannot be encoded rapidly enough. We should teach our students to accept the frustration inherent in language learning and to pay attention to the message carried by the Words rather than to the words themselves .It is important. I think, that the teacher explains to his class the objective behind an exercise and what is expected of them.



The activities the student is engaged in have to be graded according to the students knowledge of the language. What is graded here is not the language of the spoken text; but the activities the student has to do in connection with a piece of listening. What are some of these activities? Her are some.


1.Global listening The students here concentrate on the essential of a given text. It is not necessary for them to take in and remember all the parts of the text. To help students focus on certain parts of the text and select the essential information the teacher can present the learner with questions before the text is read. These questions could be written on a worksheet or on the blackboard. The text is read once-and only once-and the students should answer the pre-set questions. 2. Crossed lines This activity consists of a telephone conversation where only one of the speakers in the dialogue can be overheard. The dialogue can be played or' read in full or in short sections. The students are then encouraged to make suppositions about what they hear. From experience, I find that students enjoy making hypotheses about what is going on in 'these onesided telephone conversations. 3. Using Pictures a) The students are given a picture, or a series of pictures. They are also given various pieces of information to fill in, e.g. The man on the seat has a blue shirt and brown shoes. The man standing by the door.. (the students complete the picture). b) Alternatively, the teacher gives instructions to students to make a picture I stick figures actions, colors, etc.. can be called for. 4. Using Graphs and Charts a) A text is read about for ex, the rain fall in England during the winter of 1982. Students fill in a table or a map of England with information given by the teacher. London November 15mm Manchester September 2Omm Bristol January l0mm etc... A completed graph can be handed in by the teacher who then reads a text making statements about what the students have in their worksheet. E.g. There was more rain in London in January than in February; it was colder/warmer in Cardiff than in Bristol... It rained much more in Newcastle than in London, etc. The students then answer True/False questions. b) Weather Forecast The students are given a map of England/Morocco. A weather forecast is read by the teacher or the tape. The students fill in the map with the conventional signs of sun, rain, wind, thunder, etc... The students can check their maps against each others and later against a map that the teacher shows on the blackboard. 5. Using maps a) The students are given the plan of a town or part of a town. The teacher describes John's walk from home to school for ex. The students then trace the itinerary on the map. b) If the map is that of a country, the teacher can describe an excursion with stops at different places. He can talk about different means of transport. And while listening to the text, the students fill in the information on the map with signs of buses, trains and arrows and what have you or with short notes. Another example. The students are given a map and


instructions to fill it in: Lloyds bank is on the corner of Goodge Street and Gower Street. Facing the bank on Goodge St. is the Tube Station... d) A map (completed this time) is given to students and the students decide whether these statements are true or false. 'The tube station is on Goodge street' etc... 6. Deducing unfamiliar words and phrases in context The meaning of unfamiliar words and phrases is not given beforehand to the students, but these are encouraged to deduce the real meaning from the context. E g. the word x means a) b) c). Obviously there will be some words that lend themselves to this kind of activity much more than others. 7. Prediction What students are supposed to do here is predict how a sentence will end. The teacher reads a paragraph or a couple of sentences and stops before he finishes the last sentence. Students are asked to predict how the given sentence will end: a) b) c) .It goes without saying that in order to do this kind of work; the students will have to use their knowledge of grammar, vocabulary and their knowledge of suprasegmental features, such as rhythm and stress in the foreign, 8 Recognizing the situation of dialogue and relationships between speakers Where does the dialogue take place? Home? Street? Office? Who are the speakers? Friends? Enemies? Father and Son? Employer and Employee? 9. Recognizing the attitude and mood of speakers Recognizing the attitude and mood of the Speakers is; I think; as important as the understanding of the spoken word itself. It is important because it helps us understand the message that is conveyed. In real life; we have non-verbal clues that help us: facial expression; gestures; physical distance between speakers; etc. But even in real life there are occasions when this is not available; during a telephone conversation for example. a) X feels angry T/F How do you know? Intonation; choice of words b) How does Y feel? a) angry b) happy c) excited d) tired How do you know? Use of intonation; choice or words; etc 10. Making logica1 inference Quite often, the text we read or listen to, does not tell us specifically a piece of information, instead, we infer it from what we have read or heard It is important therefore to train our students to make logical inferences.

To conclude this talk, Id like to stress the fact that in testing Listening Comprehension, we are not testing some vague entity called the 'listening skill. We are testing comprehension which has resulted from the listening experience. (Not knowledge of the language itself)


This is why ail along my talk I have tried to emphasize the fact that Listening Comprehension is not a passive skill but an active one. This is also why I have stressed the importance of the activity to accompany the listening task. I have also stressed the importance of guidance in preparing students for Listening Comprehension. I have also mentioned a kind of support for listening: a worksheet with information to complete or pre-set questions to answer. I have emphasized the fact that we should train our students to recognize not only the cognitive content of texts but also the interactional structuring of texts. I have stressed all this -in the name: of realism. A good preparation coupled with appropriate activities is bound to reduce the gap between classroom listening activity and activity in real life. This I believe; corresponds much more to reality. Thank you. Questions 1. Q. Julie El Jazouli: You explained quite fully the various activities: global listening, crossed lines, etc. However, no. 3 using pictures was glossed over. Could you give some examples of this? A. The reason this activity was glossed over is simply because I was told by the chairman that there was not much time left. The activity consists in giving a picture to the students and asking them to complete it with the information they get while listening to a piece of discourse. Q. M. Ennaji: You have said that we should not make use of written texts in listening comprehension, but I think written texts should be equally used because, comprehension of any sort of text is extremely important, i.e. our students must understand not only the spoken form but also the written form. A. Comprehension of any sort of text is indeed important, however, written texts do not lend themselves easily to listening comprehension exercises. I am not saying that I favour oral work over written work. All I am saying is that each has its own rules and functions in the classroom. Written work is not a good way of teaching listening comprehension. We should make this distinction between reading comprehension and listening comprehension and not teach a mixture of the two. Q. F. Sadiqi: Listening comprehension is directly related to the oral aspect of language, but it happens that this oral aspect is not given enough importance by students because the exam is written. So lack of motivation makes students neglect listening comprehension. A. That is why interest and relevance become important in motivating the students. We also have to know whether we are preparing our students for life or for the baccalaureate exam only. 4. Q. M. Lahlou: What do you think of the role of memory in a listening comprehension test? A. Memory plays a great part in all student's language activities. In listening comprehension exercises, memory should not be overloaded, because what is at work here is the Short Term Memory and this does not hold much for a long time. Q. Bagui: This is not a question, it is a clarification. You have mentioned two objectives





behind the use of texts, i.e. training the students to interpret either spoken or written language. I agree, but there are other objectives: that is mainly contextualisation and the reinforcement of the new language elements (structures and/or vocabulary items); and of course techniques vary according to objectives. The lessons you happened to observe deal with the third category of objectives which does not mean that the other objectives are neglected in our classroom activities. A. I agree that what we do in class depends on the objectives we set for ourselves and our students. However, I doubt it if the texts we deal with at the 7th form level are a reinforcement of the new language elements. What happens is exactly the opposite: We introduce the new material in the text and reinforce it later with oral work.


Q . Benserghin: You have said that the way we deal with reading Comprehension is done artificially. How could it be done differently? A. This will be discussed in the workshop


Q . N. Jartit: Since listening comprehension deals with the suprasegmental features of language; dont you think that the model; the teacher should be a native speaker? A. Not at all. A tape recorder can be used for teachers who are not confident with their speech.


Q. A. Naceur: would you allow pupils to take notes while listening to a text? A. Definitely. Students should write down notes for listening comprehension. We do that all the time in real life. This is a very good point. I am glad you brought it up.


Q. M. Ouakrim: If a written text is not the most suitable type for teaching listening comprehension; how do you think one could go about selecting texts bearing in mind the problem of possible lack of authenticity of the type of texts available in a nonnative background? A. Authenticity is essential. Texts can be recorded from radio or you could record conversations of native speakers and edit them.


Q. C. Hickey: Thank you for marking clear the distinction between listening comprehension and reading comprehension. Would you agree that the way to teach comprehension of written English is to ask students to read a text in class? While doing that you can use many of the same valuable techniques which you have outlined. I hope you agree; because that will be the subject of my paper tomorrow. A. Yes, I agree. Students can read a text silently and then do the activities or answer questions in a way similar to listening comprehension.


Q. K. Al Faiz: We have conversation available to us in Kernel Lessons Intermediate. What other sources of natural spoken English could you suggest? A. There are lots of materials in the market but usually it is difficult to choose what is


right for your own students. And the price is quite high. My answer is that you should make your own texts or use radio-programs. 12. Q. Mouatamide: What do you suggest to help the students understand difficult vocabulary items used in a listening comprehension task, apart from introducing them beforehand? A. Not all words need to be understood in order to understand the global meaning of the text. Get students to understand some difficult vocabulary items in context. Teach them how to predict meaning.

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INTRODUCING 'HAVE A GO!' Ahmed Meziani A recurring problem in teaching foreign languages is that no matter how carefully the teacher chooses his texts, there will always be some students for whom the texts are too easy and some for whom they are too difficult. The problem of a textbook writer is even more complicated since he has to cater for a much larger and more heterogeneous population. The writers of Have a Go did not escape this problem. We should remember however that learning requires an effort, and that language acquisition, as opposed to language learning, is the result of input, not actual production. Hence the value of authentic texts. The texts of HAG are authentic. They were written by native speakers of English for native speakers of English for a purpose that is not pedagogical. The language used in these texts has not been simplified. This should not pose too great a problem if we consider that students should be taught holistic comprehension before comprehension in detail. This should not be a problem either if we consider that it is the type of activity given to the students more then the language used which makes an exercise difficult or not. The materials of HAG reflect the belief of its authors that authentic language has a real place in the language learning process. Authentic materials, if well exploited can develop the student's confidence in his own ability to do something with what he knows to be real language rather than what he knows to be contrived language as is found in most foreign language textbooks. A text is usually judged difficult by reference to its vocabulary and to its sentence length. If the vocabulary is simple - or simplified - and the sentences are short, the text le supposed to be simple enough, or right for a given level of students. The implication here is that shorter sentences are easier to comprehend. This is not true. Research done in the field has revealed exactly the opposite, 1.e. simplified syntax leads - to borrow a term from Widdowson - to complexification. As far as vocabulary is concerned, not all I unfamiliar vocabulary items are worth the trouble of Presentation + Drilling + -Exploitation and the rest of it. Some vocabulary items should be learned and incorporated into the student's active vocabulary. Other items should be learned as passive vocabulary. And of course there is a third category of vocabulary items that simply should be ignored because they are too specialized, too idiomatic or simply too difficult to be worthy of consideration at the particular level in question. I am here reminded of an essay by Francis Bacon where he says: "Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few to be chewed and digested". I think the same applies to texts and to vocabulary items as well. There are of course various ways of teaching vocabulary. Devices which may help to foster better understanding are those which involve the use of pictures, diagrams, charts and models. I have recently visited a teacher-trainee who did wonders with a text about an earthquake from HAG. His key to success in that lesson was that he taught the class a geography lesson and not an English lesson. With charts and maps this teacher explained everything about geographical faults, tremors, epicentre, etc. The students were interested. The new vocabulary did not seem to be new anymore. I take this opportunity to stress the fact that students should not be expected or encouraged to stop whenever they meet a new or unfamiliar word to ask for its meaning. This habit must be discouraged if they are to learn to think in the foreign language. Students must be encouraged instead to make intelligent guesses at the meaning of unfamiliar items and to read whole sections for meaning before attempting to extract the details. Students need to develop strategies for coping with unfamiliar words. The way we teach texts in our schools does not encourage this. We should


teach our students for example word derivation, cognates, word formation and a certain practice in determining lexical meaning from the context. Cloze passages can be useful in this respect to determine the student's ability to anticipate vocabulary and demonstrate knowledge of structural relationship. We have included some cloze tasks in HAG hoping teachers will take them as model and write their own. The purpose of HAG is to help students read in a FL and understand what they have read. They should be able to increase their vocabulary as a result of discovering new words in meaningful contexts, just as they do by reading a wide variety of materials in their own language. In this respect, there isn't much sense in introducing all new vocabulary items before reading the text. There isn't much sense in asking students to read aloud either. Most of the reading they will be doing in English will be done silently and alone, just as they do in their native language. Besides, it is silent reading that le usually referred to as reading. The other kind of reading is referred to as reading aloud. Silent reading has been defined as 'predicting your way through print Reading aloud as 'barking at print'. Which one do we want to teach our students? Let me stress the point once more: It is inappropriate to tell students to shut their books when asking questions which are intended to teach understanding of the text. Questions asked with books shut test memory, not comprehension. Or perhaps, I should say memory more than comprehension. To learn to comprehend, the student must learn to predict his way through print. This can be done with the books open. A quick word now about the exercises. Classroom exercises can be classified as to whether their focus is on gaining formal or conscious knowledge of the target language, or whether their goal is on gaining acquired or subconscious knowledge. The former are grammar exercises, the latter communicative exercises. Of course some exercises may do both at once. In the book, we have tried to cater for both grammar and communication.


QUESTIONS Question Answer Students are asked to answer in their own words. Is this a test of comprehension or paraphrasing? How much should we insist on this? (Mrs El Jazouli) There is no difference between comprehension and paraphrasing because if you don't understand something you can't repeat it. There are anyway different kinds of questions: some push the students to use their own words, others to use other words from the text. Would you insist on written or oral exercises as far as reading is concerned? Both could be done at the same time. Questions could be answered orally and in writing. We should develop the habit of answering questions in the written form as well. Many linguists agree that in teaching a language there should be that Wilga River called "Grading or Gradation. Which simply means progression. So in writing for ex, we begin by teaching how to write a sentence, a complex one, a paragraph, a composition, and essay, before passing to a journalistic, dramatic and poetic style. Couldn't that be applied also to texts taught to students following the same process? This is a very difficult problem. Gradation was one of the criteria the AudioLingual method came up with. Now, the whole idea of gradation le questioned. There is, necessarily a progression. (5th year, 6th, 7th etc...) The language taught at one level is necessarily "easier" than that of the superior level. Did you think of the slow learners and the amount of time they would waste while looking for answers with books open? If the slow learners take too much time to answer questions with books open, it would of course take them much more time with books shut. UNANSWERED QUESTIONS 1. To what extent, if any, do the exercises in Have a Go take account of world knowledge and subject matter knowledge in terms of comprehending the passages? (Kyle Perkins). Have a Go is best used when testing 7LM at the end of the year, dont you think so?

Question Answer








Most of my colleagues who are using Have a Go use it only with the preformation section. This is because of the difficulty of the texts. Is it intended only for preformation or lettres Modernes as well? If it is also to be used by lettre Modernes, how can you explain the degree of difficulty which I think is beyond most of the septime classes? (Hamid Bouchahda). Have a Go is a very good textbook. The exercises are extremely good and meaningful. However the texts are too difficult for students because most of them are taken from magazines and newspapers. Accordingly they are written by reporters who use some figurative devices like irony, in its different types, which mislead students. Sincerely speaking, I am learning a lot while I am working with this textbook, in the came way I have been doing with some novels and plays I've read so far. (Abdelmajid Bouziane). Most of the texts in Have a Go are taken from newspapers. Do you think that by doing so, the writers have taken into account the Moroccan learner? Don't you think also that the texts are too long to be dealt with in the 7th form, except for the 'section anglaise '? Back to Contents




MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTING Austin H.R. Sanders Faculty of Letters, Rabat SUMMARY This paper, together with a workshop, is intended to help you avoid some of the problems involved in writing effective multiple choice questions, and to help you to appreciate what this type of testing can and can not do. First, I wish to say a little about testing in general. Second, we shall examine some of the real and imagined shortcomings of multiple choice questions. To redress the balance, we shall next look at their advantages and conveniences. Finally, I want to outline the kind of difficulty that arises when we first begin to write multiple choice questions. This last theme, of practical difficulties, will be continued and dealt with in more detail in the workshop. TESTING TODAY We normally test in order to find out whether language learning has taken place and to find out whether it has taken place in sufficient quantity. It is unfortunate that we have no adequate definition or description of either language or learning. Please do not let the linguists or the psychologists tell you otherwise; we are, to a large extent, working in a prescientific stage in the study of language and the ways in which people learn or acquire it. This very real lack of knowledge must be partly responsible for the fact that there are at least three attitudes towards testing, and so at least three major types of testing. I suggest that we can learn something from each of the three, but that we should rely upon none of them exclusively. First, we have the basically structuralist view that we can break language down Into little parts, and that it is, therefore, reasonable to teach and test small, isolated components of language. This leads us to ask test questions of the type: Can the testee distinguish between the phonemes /i/ and /i:/; can he distinguish, by ear, between the words SHIP and SHEEP? Or, can the testee use the simple past versus the present perfect, when given appropriate contextual cues? This kind of thinking leads us towards what is often called discrete point testing, the testing of small, relatively isolated elements of language. Multiple choice items provide a very effective way of doing this type of testing. Please notice that discrete point testing demands clear specification of the parts of language, and the skills which are to be tested. The second view is that knowledge of a language is displayed primarily by the ability to communicate in that language. In this view, we require the testes to show his knowledge by performing some communicative task in the language. We might ask questions like: Can the testes ask for, understand and give simple street directions, using a specified set of structures and vocabulary? Or, can the testes understand, note down and give telephone numbers? Such communicative testing requires us to set up a standard of performance, or


criterion, and to see whether the testes can reach that standard or criterion. This form of testing is, therefore, also known as criterion referenced testing. Please notice here that criterion referenced communicative testing demands clear specification of situations and of the language content appropriate in those situations. A third view is that there may be a single "general factor" of language proficiency (OLLER 1979: 429). If such a factor exists, (and it appears to be a hypothetical entity which is very difficult to demonstrate practically, i.e. statistically), we should expect to be able to measure it using integrated tests. Integrated tests are those which assess a variety of skills, grammatical knowledge, vocabulary, etc., all at the same time. This view leads us to ask whether the testee can reconstruct a text from which every fifth (or seventh, or ninth, etc.) word has been deleted; i.e., can the testee reach a certain score on a cloze test? Dictation is another type of integrated testing procedure and is tending to come back into fashion and respectability for this purpose. At present, the main thing that requires specification in integrative testing seems to be the nature of the general factor that is being tested, so that it may be shown that the same factor is accessible through different testing techniques, repeatedly and reliably. Thus, we have three broad types of test items or procedures: I Discrete point items, which test small isolated pieces of language; II Communicative (or criterion referenced) tests, which ask the testee to perform appropriately in the language, in a given situation; III Integrated tests, which attempt to give us some measure of a hypothetical general language ability. These three categories are not mutually exclusive; they are not water-tight boxes. Communicative tests will tend to be integrative. Multiple choice tests of comprehension on extended texts (say of paragraph level and above) will also tend to test general language ability. A cloze procedure might be considered to be a series of discrete point items. A battery of multiple choice items of different types might be expected to be integrative. Even the individual multiple choice question will usually be to some extent integrative, since language items only take on their value as they combine (paradigmatically as choices and syntagmatically as strings) to make meaningful written or spoken test. In all three types of testing, we must be prepared to specify certain things; i.e., we ought to have a clear idea of what we are testing. In multiple choice testing, we should specify as exactly as possible the language items we want to test. Then we must design questions which test, as far as possible, ONLY those items. For this reason, you will have to consider how you con bread down your teaching objectives, and the language you teach, into small, discrete or separate items, suitable for multiple choice questions. Another thing we have to specify, in any kind of testing, is the target level, the level of performance that we wish our students to achieve. We can only do this by setting some standard or criterion of performance on the test. There is, potentially, a two-way relationship here: the type of test may depend upon the type of criterion we select, or, if we decide first upon the form of our test, then this will dictate the nature (but net the level) of our criterion. Thus we are faced with a choice. We can compare students with each other place them in order of performance and set a norm level by deciding the pass mark; this gives us what is


called a norm-referenced test. Alternatively, we can compare the performance of each student with a practical operational specification of performance on a given task in a given situation. In other words, we compare students not with each other, but rather against a pre-set criterion; this gives us what is called a criterion-referenced test. Taken to its extreme form, the criterion referenced teaching/testing situation says: We will teach you to do a job in the language. We will then test you to find out if you can do the job. This will allow us to predict, very reliably whether you will subsequently be able to do he job. Naturally, statistically such a method as much to recommend it however it tends to be very demanding in terms of prior analysis specification and resources. So most of us, in our usual work will be comparing testees with other testees and not comparing the performance of an individual with predetermined behavioural criteria (CAROLL 1980: 10) That is to say that we usually use norm-referenced tests. It follows that we have to decide what are acceptable levels of performance and incidentally, just how we can specify such levels. SHORTCOMINGS OF MULTIPLE CHOICE TESTING To begin with, I should like to get out of the way what I consider to be some red herrings, some old objections which might divert us from more serious matters. The first of these red herrings swam most happily in the murky behaviourist waters of strict audio-lingual methodology. It is the idea that, by exposing our students to unacceptable alternatives in the distractors, we may teach them incorrect language. When language was regarded as habit, it was considered dangerous to allow students to make mistakes, or even to be exposed to errors. Very few people indeed now accept this strict behaviourist or Skinnerian view of language learning. More modern learning theory recognises that we learn by making mistakes as long as we get feedback to tell us that we have made a mistake or that we have failed to communicate adequately. Exposure to any unacceptable distractor will, in any case, be quite brief. For example, if we give sixty four-part multiple choice questions in forty-five minutes, exposure to each alternative is unlikely to exceed 11.25 seconds. We know to our cost that long and repeated exposure to correct language forms often fails to influence language behaviour, for example in pronunciation and spelling of the third person singular ending in the simple present. It seems rather pointless, therefore, to reflect a powerful testing technique because of the possible evil effects of such brief exposures to unacceptable forms. The next objection is that students can guess the answers to multiple choice questions. This is most obviously true of YES/NO and TRUE/FALSE questions; with only two alternatives, we should expect a score of 50% simply by chance. For this reason such questions have no place in testing, although they may be both justifiable and useful in classwork as a rapid check on comprehension. Similarly, three alternatives would permit a score of 33.3% by chance, increased by good guessing, of course. For these reasons, it is desirable to write multiple choice questions with five alternatives; however, in practice it is very difficult to write four convincing distractors, and so we usually compromise by writing questions with four alternatives - three distractors and the correct answer. We cannot eliminate guessing or chance, but on the other hand, informed, intelligent guessing, based on partial knowledge, underlies much of our behaviour and is something to encourage. It is a legitimate strategy. There is a simple formula to correct" scores for the effects of guessing, (HEATON, 1975: 180). This is rarely used, however, since it only changes the mark; it does not alter the order or ranking of testees.


Another objection can be illustrated by a quotation: ... the multiple choice item is a thoroughly unrealistic measure of language performance. It does not reflect actual language use - there is no real-life situation in which we go around answering multiple choice questions." (UNDERHILL, in HEATON, 1982: 18) Well, I must disagree with that writer. I often ask myself or my guests a multiple choice question when we sit down to dinner: "Red, rose, or white?" Another quotation will show that I am not alone in thinking that we ask and answer multiple choice questions all the time: "When you think about it, conversations are laced with decision points where implicit choices are being constantly made. Questions imply a range of alternatives." (OLLER, 1979:232). Now for more serious objections. One such is that multiple choice questions test only recognition, and fail to test production. This is a potentially dangerous limitation. "Evidence continues to coins in from many sources that language as comprehension and language as production are se profoundly different that any attempt to describe language nondirectionally or neutrally with respect to its interpretive and expressive functions, will be highly controversial, if not fail." (VOLLMER in ALDERSON, 1981: 159). This surely means that our old distinction between active and passive, or rather productive and receptive skills may be respectable and worth retaining. It also means that we should not rely exclusively on multiple choice questions, a point which has already been mentioned. Another real objection is that it takes quite a lot of time to prepare good multiple choice questions. This, however, is true of all types of good test questions. The obvious consequence is that you should keep a "bank" of good items and use them again and again. Rich, sophisticated establishments like the American University in Cairo can keep their item bank on computer; we shall find that a folder full of papers, arranged by level and purpose, will de the job quite well. Production of good multiple choice tests demands the collaboration of at least two people. This is because it seems to be a law of nature that we can never see all our own mistakes, ambiguities and so on. Somebody else should always check your questions before they are used. This le just as true for native speakers, so there is no need to feel shy about asking a colleague to work with you. Multiple choice items and tests need standardisation and validation of various kinds. The mathematics is fairly easy, but the work can be time-consuming. Once again, this is true for all types of tests and test items. You can find information about the techniques involved in HEATON, 1975; HEQTON, 1982; OLLER, 1979 and ASHWORTH, 1982. Really serious work on any kind of testing requires a knowledge of statistical techniques, but do not let this put you off; you do NOT need such knowledge to start writing and using multiple choice questions. ADVANTAGES AND CONVENIENCES OF MULTIPLE CHOICE. A general point first, made by a quotation which exactly reflects my opinion: "The point in building a multiple choice text is to attain greater economy of administration and scoring. It is purely a question of practicality and has little or nothing to do with reliability and validity in the broader sense of these terms." (OLLER, 1979: 239) In fact, the more student you have to test, the more attractive multiple choice


becomes. Let us examine some of the reasons for this "economy of administration and scoring". A) Working speed. You can and should give multiple choice tests quickly. In Egyptian schools, the recommended rate is, I believe, sixty sentence-length, four-alternative questions in forty-five minutes. B) Marking or scoring speed. Using a cut out marking mask, as demonstrated in the workshop, you can mark questions as fast as you can count crosses. Fifty questions per minute is a perfectly realistic target. C) Ease of administration. You can use one standard answer sheet, of say fifty questions, for many different tests. Naturally, you do not have to use all the spaces every time. This means that if you can get just one stencil typed and run off in quantity, just once, you are in business. Questions can be presented on the board, some orally, so there is no need to bother your administration for more duplicating each time you want to give a test. The standard answer sheet is essential to allow you to make the marking mask referred to above. See appendix B for the format. D) Versatility. You can use multiple choice to test many skills and aspects of language: reading comprehension, listening comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, error recognition, phoneme and cluster recognition and discrimination, spelling, stress and intonation, some writing skills such as appropriate use of connectors, etc. etc. E) Objectivity. Since the well-made multiple choice question has one, and only one, correct alternative, each question can be marked definitely right or wrong. There are no degrees of partial rightness or wrongness. Bias from fatigue, personal feeling; and so on are virtually eliminated. Two different teachers marking the same testee should agree exactly on the score of the test. F) It is relatively easy and convenient to apply multiple elementary statistical techniques to choice items and tests. DIFFICULTIES IN WRITING QUESTIONS This is a brief overview which will be expanded and exemplified in the workshop. Let us consider the things that can go wrong and thus produce BAD questions. A) There may be NO correct alternative. This can happen because of a spelling or typist's error in what was supposed to be the correct alternative. It can also arise from a mismatch of an article on the stem and a word beginning the correct alternative. B) There may be more than one correct alternative. This will either be by accident or because the instructions say: Choose the beet answer". I suggest that you avoid writing this type of item at secondary school level; try them in class as discussionstarters and you will see why. C) The distracters may be -too obviously wrong. This makes it tee easy for the testee


to eliminate them and may lead to a two-choice situation, where even a blind guess gives a fifty-fifty chance of success. Distractors should distract. D) The correct alternative may be tee obvious. This is usually because it 16 longer than the distracters, a fault which tends to arise when we try to make the correct alternative more exact than the distractors. Lengthen the distractors, rather than shortening the correct answer and making it tee vague. E) The answer to one question may be given away in the wording of another question. F) A question may test only a trivial or irrelevant piece of language. G) A question may try to test more than one piece of language. H) The language used to provide context may be too hard or too easy for the piece of language being tested. The workshop will, amongst ether things, provide examples of all these problems, so that you will have a chance to eliminate the faults by redesigning the questions. In conclusion, I hope that you new see that the multiple choice question is a very useful and powerful tool in testing. We have already seen, however, that it is only one of the tools in the tester's large and varied tool-box. Like any other tool, it must be used with care, for a suitable purpose; above all, it must be used after careful consideration of the objectives of both teaching and testing.


BIBLIOGRAPHY ALDERSON, J.C. & A. HUGHS (eds.) 1980. Issues in Language Testing. ELT documents 111. The British Council, London ALLEN, J.P.B. & S. Pit Corder. (eds.) 1974. Techniques in Applied Linguistics. The Edinburgh Course in Applied Linguistics. Volume 5. Oxford University Press. ASHWORTH, A. E. 1982. Testing for Continuous Assessment. Evans Brothers. London. CARPOLL, B.J. 1.980. Testing Communicative performance. Pergamon Institute of English. Oxford. HEATON, J.B. 1975. Writing English Language Tests. Longman. London. HEATON, J.B. 1982. Language Testing. Modem English publications Ltd. OLLER J.W. 1979. Language Tests at School. Longman. London. ROBSON, C. 1973. Experiment. Design and Statistics in Psychology. Penguin. Harmondsworth.


APPENDIX A The following examples were given in the workshop. They are all BAD QUESTIONS. Can you find what is wrong and put it right? Sometimes there is more than one fault in. a question. 1. The ptarmigan _ _ _ _ _ into a tree. A. flied C. flew B. flewed D. flow 2. A . ptarmigan is a kind of _ _ _ _ A. flower C. bard - B. fish D. cake

3. Ordinary language learners went to' talk about ptarmigans _ _ _ _ _ A. often C. rarely B. sometimes D. never 4. In the (imaginary) reading passage, Oliver Twist was a -. A. lawyer C. orphan B. printer D. policeman 5. A whale is a kind ---- - -. A. animal C. sea creature B. fish D. plant 6. In the (also imaginary) text, John Brown is a ----------. A. housewife C. lawyer B. car D. engineer 7. Polymorphic means-------. A. round C. having many different firns B. square D. flat 8. Maria Callas was an -------------- . A. language teacher C. Spanish writer B. linguistics expert D. opera singer 9. Linguistically significant generalizations ----------- artefacts. A. was not C. may not be B. is not D. can no be


APPENDIX B MULTIPLE CHOICE STANDAND ANSWER SHEET Name: Class:_______ Instructions: question. 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. 21. 22. 23. 24. 25. Date

Put a cross on the letter of the right answer. Only put ONE cross for each A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D 26. 27. 28. 29. 30. 31. 32. 33. 34. 35. 36. 37. 38. 39. 40. 41. 42. 43. 44. 45. 46. 47. 48. 49. 50. A A A A A A A. A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A A B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B B C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C C D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D D

MARK_______ out of _________


QUESTIONS FOLLOWING SANDERS PAPER ON TESTING & MULTIPLE CHOICE. 1. BENJAMA You talked about the disadvantages and advantages of multiple choice. Can you suggest briefly some other means of testing the students which may be more fair and objective? ANSWER Multiple choice is objective and so it is fair. I do not think you will find a fairer, method. There are, of course, many other ways of testing, each of which has its own advantages and disadvantages. One must always be clear about why one is testing and exactly what one wants to test. Composition can test quality of thinking as well as the ability to 'write. I have mentioned cloze testing as an overall, integrated test of language knowledge; dictation is coming back into fashion and should not be neglected as a listening and writing test. 2. SALAMA What about cheating, especially in overcrowded classes? ANSWER This can be a problem, I know. If you have the facilities, it is possible to make up three sets of questions. Each set will contain the same questions, but they will be in different orders. This works well since no two people sitting next to each other will be working on the questions in the same order. 3. JARTIT 0ne of the criteria is to define the target level. 'Do you think this is an easy thing to do in non-streamed classes?" ANSWER No, I don't think it is at all easy. Experience helps and so does collaboration with other teachers at the same level. 4. A. ZOUBAIR Can you test composition through multiple choice questions? If so, how?" ANSWER No, you cannot test composition; however, you can test some of the elements of composition, such as connectors, spelling, lexis, phrasal verbs, perhaps even some punctuation. The only way to test the integration of these elements is by controlled, guided or free writing. 5. J. EL JAZOULI "Given the advantages of multiple choice to teachers and students, there is a serious objection - solely practical: the lack of stencils and, paper in schools. Both of these are needed for regular testing in this way." ANSWER Yes, the mechanics of getting tests duplicated can be a real problem. However, to gain the Main advantages of multiple choice' you do not need to duplicate the questions; they can be written on the board. All you really need to get run off is a supply of the answer sheets, with question numbers and A B C D for each question. I think it is a question of making a big effort to get a good supply 0f these just once or twice during the academic year. 6. ABU TALIB "Multiple choice can be incompatible with the Moroccan brain mechanism. (....) A Moroccan feels offended when guessing wrong and hates to be forced to cheat. Can an adequate learning background cater for that? Because of drawbacks and difficulties, have you thought


of possibly classifying situations according to suitability? That is, for which situations the approach is or is not suitable? ANSWER First of all, I do .not believe there is any difference between Moroccans' brain mechanism and anybody else's. Secondly, I have tried to make it clear that multiple choice has limitations, just like any other tool. The teacher's experience, plus a little trail and error, will soon make it clear when multiple choice is a suitable method of testing, and when it is not. 7. LAHLOU MONCEF Don't you think that in order to correct for guessing we should subtract from the number of questions right the number that the student has got wrong?" ANSWER No, I do not think that would be at all fair; you could not justify it mathematically. The number of questions that can be got right by chance is a function of the number of alternatives you give. It is not equal to the number of questions the student gets wrong. There is a formula to correct for guessing and chance; this applies equally to all students, so it alters the marks without altering the order of the students. You may like to compare the results given by your suggestion with those given by the formula: S = R w ( A - 1)

Where S is corrected score, R is number of questions right, w is number of questions wrong, and A is number of alternatives (distractors + answer) in a question. 8. M. ENNAJI You said that multiple choice is most suitable and convenient with large classes. Does this mean that it is unsuitable for small classes, and if so, why? ANSWER There is no implication at all that multiple choice is unsuitable for small classes, or even for individuals. The point I was trying to make is that it just gets MORE attractive with larger classes because it saves more time and effort. 9. Miss ALLA "Why do you say that multiple choice is an unnatural way to test?" ANSWER I do not think it is unnatural at all; on the contrary, I think multiple choice reflects the kind of decision we take many times everyday. I quoted one writer who thinks M/C is unnatural because we do not ask and answer M/C questions in 'everyday life. I wouldn't say to my wife: "Do you want to A) stay at home, B) go to the cinema, C) visit your mother, D) visit my mother?"' However, such choices are offered in conversation, and I quoted another writer, with whom I agree, who thinks that M/C is a very natural way to ask questions. Back to Contents


IT AIN'T WHAT YOU TEACH IT'S THE WAY THAT YOU TEST IT? Ian Stewart British Council Rabat Introduction In an ideal world the development of a teaching programme at any level would begin with the identification of the needs of the students, proceed through the definition of aims and objectives leading to the development of materials based on these aims and objectives. Various kinds of tests could then be integrated with the programme measuring for example aptitude to take the course, progress on the course and achievement or, otherwise, of the aims of the course. Most of you are not in such a situation. You are basically faced with trying in three, years to raise the level of your students' English to that demanded by the Baccalaureate examination. This ordeal has a backwash effect on the teaching such that I have heard from both teachers and students the comment that anything other than tuition specifically for the Bac is so much waste of time. If there are in the audience today those who agree with, such sentiments, may I ask you to suspend disbelief for half an hour or so and at least, consider the value of incorporating into your syllabus a component of language use. Why communication? Clear directives on the aims of ELT in Moroccan secondary schools are still lacking and the nearest I have come to seeing such a statement is that the aim 'of ELT in Morocco is to enable students to be able to communicate with the world at large". However vague this may be, I see it as a recognition of the fact that language teaching should not take the acquisition of the language system as an end in itself but should prepare students for the effective use of the language to do other things. To use a well-worn metaphor, we can learn how to operate individual parts of a car without necessarily being able to integrate them into the sequence necessary to drive the car. Communicative teaching & communicative testing In some clear-cut cases, and rarely in schools, the teaching can have some objective sufficiently practical to make a task a suitable test for the language teaching programme. For example, to teach students how to understand a recipe and to test them by having them bake the cake. The criterion of success in this case is how good the cake is, and by extension how good their grasp, of language is. It is certainly possible to arrange such tests in the classroom even with large numbers, though not of course involving baking. A simple example would be paper folding where the perfection of the finished product would be the basis for judging success. In most circumstances, however, the teaching programme will break up the communicative activity into separate skills and teach these. Given that the teacher will always want to know how students are progressing, test of communicative, performance must be


designed to measure the ability to use such skills. These tests will not necessarily look the same as traditional tests, nor will they be assessed in the same way. They will also inevitably have an effect on 'teaching for reasons I will explain in a moment. RACE Brendan Carroll in his book Testing Communicative Performance (Pergamon 1980) cites a useful acronym to illustrate the essential features of a test: 1. Relevance or how relevant is the behaviour being tested to what is being taught. Not only communicative tests benefit from this criterion and teachers should always have it clearly in mind when writing a test exactly what they want to measure. 2. Acceptability or will the user of the test accept its content and format. You may' all leave the room today convinced that communicative testing is the answer to all life's problems but unless your students accept it too, 'either you will get no cooperation or the results will not be valid. Many communicative test formats may Provide useful class exercises during teaching in order to focus on a particular skill and to accustom students to different kinds of test. 3. Comparability or can test scores obtained at different times and from different groups be compared. 4. Economy or do the tests provide as much information as is required with the minimum expenditure of time, effort and resources. Assessment Leading on from the concept of economy a test should be as easy as possible for the tester to mark and should give the results he/'she wants. In a normreferenced test, discrimination may be all important, discrimination both of items and of students. For a test in a communicative framework, however, the concept of pass or fail is less valid and scales of appropriacy, often subjectively based, are used. Examples are given in the handout of such scales used in the British Council, University of Cambridge, ELT battery, obviously not suitable for direct transfer to schools but nevertheless an example of categories that might be used. (handout)

Types of Test There is no magic in these or anything extremely novel. Many studies have shown dictation, for example, to be a remarkably stable integrative test, giving a spread of results compatible with those given by other more specific 'tests. The handout gives some examples which we can look at quickly and I would ask you to consider them both as tests and as exercises to increase student sensitivity to language and to emphasise how important context and appropriacy are to the efficient working of the language system. (Handout and discussion of types of tests) Conclusion The bulk of a lycee teachers' work will be on teaching the language system and tests will be related to monitoring progress towards success in the Baccalaureate. Nevertheless, teaching language use should not be neglected. Before any test is constructed or used, the tester should 'have, clear ideas about what it is that he/she wants to test. A test of a student's grasp of the English verb system should be totally different from a test of a student's ability to'


report a telephone message. In this paper I have tried to give an overview of some major aspects of testing communication and I hope the tests in the handout will also have given you ideas about possible communicative activities in the classroom. Questions 1. Q. Oudaba, Sefrou: The RACE method (Relevance, Acceptability, Comparability and Economy) is quite an ideal one. There is only something annoying about Acceptability. Should we, as teachers, give this opportunity to accept a test on a small scale the whole procedure of teaching on a larger one before giving it to the teachers first, bearing in mind that they must follow the "Official Instructions"? A. Agreed. But tests should themselves be tested, and acceptance by students is an important feature of the success of a test. 2. Q. Khabir, Marrakech: a) On what criterion or criteria have you based your view that tests may not be valid if they dont meet the acceptability condition? b) Would acceptability still be valid in a community (or a learning situation) where students have no alternative but to accept the test as it stands? (some teachers can be tyrants)? A. Face validity is a long standing theme in testing. Customer resistance can affect the results. 3. Q. N. Jalal, Rabat: In your paper you have talked about the testing of communicative competence. How would you test the linguistic competence? and is it part of the communicative competence or not? A. The teacher should have a clear idea before the test of what is being tested. The marking will then be related either to linguistic or to communicative competence.


SAMPLES OF TYPES OF TEST Sample one Presentation: Oral (tape-recorded) or written Type : Identification Present : Excuse me, do you know where the nearest post office is please? 1. (Setting) Where might somebody ask you that question? a. In your house b. In your office c. In the street d. In a restaurant What is the person asking you about? a. The price of stamps b. The age of the post office c. The position of the post office d. The size of the post office why' is the person speaking to you? a. To ask your advice b. To thank you c. To ask for information d. To warn you Does the speaker think that you know 'the answer to the question? a. He is sure that you do b. He is sure that you don' t c. He doesn't know if you do or not d. He thinks you really ought to know the answer (N.B. Intonation to distinguish e. and d.) Would you understand from the question a. That you are the first person the speaker has asked? b.the speaker already knows where there is a post office? c.the speaker has already asked somebody else but has not found out the information? d.the speaker just wants to check what he already knows? (N.B. stress: Excuse me, do you' know...) Who is the speaker? a. A friend of yours b. A person you met, recently c. A person you have never met before d. A very close friend How would you describe the attitude of the speaker? a. Very, very polite b. Very friendly c. Polite d. Unfriendly

2. (Topic)

3. (Function)

4. (Modality)

5. (Pre-supposition)

6. (Role)

7. (Formality)


8. (Status)

Is the speaker treating you a. as a friend? b. as somebody very important? c. as an equal? d. as somebody who is less important than he is? How would you describe the mood of the speaker? a. Bored b. Anxious c. Depressed d. Excited. (N.B. With appropriate intonation, etc. This could only be used with a taped presentation.)

9. (Mood)

Sample Two Presentation : Oral (tape-recorded) Type : Identification Present : Recording 1,' 11, 111 (ULCPEFS) Rubric Below you will find a number of groups of statements made about the recording you have just heard. For each group decide which of the statements best describes the content or circumstances of the recording. Choose only one statement and circle the number of that statement to show which one you believe is best. 1. The recording was made: 1. At a public metting in a hall 2. In a shop 3. At a public meeting out of doors 4. On television 5. Over the radio 6. In a theatre 7. In a court of law 8. In an office 2. The subject matter of the recording was: 1. The world news 2. Divorce 3. Strikes 4. A robbery 5. Sex' 6. The situation in the country 7. Local news 8. Nothing 3. The speaker was: 1. A teacher 2. A politician 3. An actor 4. A lawyer


5. 6. 7. 8.

A broadcaster A salesman A civil servant A policeman

4. The speakers purpose was to: 1. Persuade 2. Give instructions 3. Inform 4. Argue 5. Amuse 6. Exhort 7. Ridicule 8. Deceive 5. The people the speaker was addressing were: 1. The general public 2. Housewives 3. The Labour Party 4. A jury 5. The manager of a shop 6. Members of Parliament 7. Some other kind of person--specify ________ 8. A judge 6. The speaker showed himself to be: 1. Respectful 2. Angry 3. Matter of fact 4. Pedantic 5. Ironic 6. Patronising 7. Humorous 8. Charming 7. The effect the recording had on you was to: 1. Make you laugh 2. Startle you 3. Make you sneer 4. Sadden you 5. Make you frightened 6. To irritate you 7. Make you anxious 8. Some other effect -- specify_____________ Sample Three: Presentation: Oral (tape-recorded) or written Type :Matching Present :The manager will see you now, sir. Where might you hear this? Put a tick by any of the fo1lowing expressions

1. (Setting)


you might hear in the same place. a. Stop talking b. Would you care to take a seat c. I'm afraid hes not in at the moment d. Look, I've told you before. Don't do that. 2. (Topic) Listen to/look at these comments. In some of them the speaker is talking about a train journey he had just made. Put a tick next to the ones which refer to this. a....and we took off on time, despite the fog in New York. b.So by the time we got there we were running over half an hour late. c.The guard was very helpful. He found us a seat in a non-smoker d.The trouble was we got a puncture, so that held us up. Look at these two columns. Join the appropriate sentences from each together to make one utterance. I 'can't thank you enough Is this the way to the town centre? It should have been ready yesterday What do you think? I enjoyed every minute of it

3. (Function)

I'm sorry but it just isn't good enough I really do appreciate what you've done I'm not sure if I like it or not It really was fantastic Excuse me please

(The presentation of this sample is probably limited to the written mode because of memory factors if the candidates cannot actually see the data. Alternatively, it would be possible to present one column in the written mode and the other column orally, asking the candidates to write down next to each written sentence the number of the orally presented sentence which completes the utterance) Similar techniques are clearly available for testing the remaining elements of the communicative situation.

Sample Four

Presentation: Oral (tape-recorded) or written Type :Evaluation Present :I'm sorry but we're sold out

1. (setting) When are you most likely to hear this? Write 1, 2, or 3 in the box. 1. Very likely 2. 2. Possible but not likely 3. Very unlikely a. At an airline booking office b. At a cinema c. At a railway station d. At a theatre

2. (Topic) You go into a bank to cash a cheque. What does the cashier say to you ? (context presented orally or visually). Write 1, 2, or 3 in the box 1. Very likely 2. Possible but not likely 3. Very unlikely a. b. c. d. Would you care for notes of small or large denomination? How would you like it? How big are the notes you would like? How do you want the money?

3. (Function) You are in a railway carriage in England. It is' very cold and the window is open. There is one other person in the carnage and he wants you to close the window. What would he say to you? Write 1, 2, or 3 in the box. 1. Very likely 2. Possible but not likely 3. Very unlikely. a. It's really cold in here isn't it? b. Look, shut the window will you'? c. Youll close the window wont you? d. Could, you possible shut the window please? Sample Five Type: Choice This would take the same form as the preceding sample. However, the candidate would be asked simply to select the most appropriate item from the set presented. It would be differentiated from Sample One (identification) in that the sets would, consist of language events rather than descriptions. It is likely that a test of this type would be more reliable than one involving a scale of choice. (e.g. Sample Three). It must be admitted that 'the feasibility of obtaining reliable assessment of the latter has to be demonstrated; however, it seems to offer the possibility of allowing the candidate more sophisticated judgements and should certainly be investigated. Sample Nine The examiner is provided with a table of information of the following kind: Kings of England Name William I William Il Henry, I Stephen Accession 1066 1087 1100 1135 Died 1087 1100 1135 1154 Age 60 43 67 50 Reigned 21 13 35 1.9

(This is only a sample. The particular linguistic problems inherent in this particular table (e.g. accession) do not invalidate the approach) Candidates would be supplied with' an identical with blanks in certain spaces:


Name William I William Il Henry I Stephen

Accession 1066 1100 1135

Died 1087 1100 1135

Age 43 67 50

Reigned 21 13 19

The task is to complete their table by asking the examiner for specific information. In order to ensure that the examiner would have to listen to each question on its merits, a number of different tables would be prepared for different candidates, each containing blanks at different spaces. Assessment would, be on a number of interrelated criteria. a. Success. b. Time. Does the candidate actually manage to fill in the blanks correctly? How long does it take the candidates to assess the situation and perform as required?

c. Productive Skill. The questions the candidate asks are rated 1-4 on the grounds outlined above. Sample Eleven The Half-Dialogue Technique Candidate is required to supply the missing half. A: Hello, I haven't seen you for ages. How are you? B: . A: That is a shame. What happened? B: .. A: Was anyone else in the car? B: A: Well I'm glad to hear that. Look, I have to go now but why don't we have lunch together on Friday? B: . A: Right I'll see you at 12.30 on Friday then. Bye. Sample Twelve 1. 2. The candidate is told in advance that he must be prepared. to. respond to the examiner is some specified way.

If the examiner raises the topic of holidays you should be prepared to persuade him to go to your country on holiday. If the examiner raises the topic of railway travel you should be prepared to argue in favour of developing a better and more comprehensive system of railways in your country. If the examiner makes a series of statements about the development of the E.E.C. you should be prepared to contradict him.


(Virtually all the above types of test item were developed by Keith Morrow for the Royal Society of Arts - see his Techniques of Evaluation for a National Syllabus 1977)


Example: "The ostrich is the egg largest bird eat in the world. From far away, it looks lorry more like a ladder camel than a bird. It has a long neck, long legs water and feet rather like smoke a camel's. Fast its eyes are very large and sharp. . Like the camel, the ostrich feathers can go for a long time without soda water. It lives in dry Plains and even hi-jack in deserts. Back to Contents