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Evaluating Progress

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Why should we test our students? The CIEP website advises you to evaluate
your students in areas such as word recognition, memory skills, as well as
oral and written comprehension and expression.

It's important as a teacher to know what our students are capable of and to have a
minimum of awareness about their strengths and weaknesses in these areas. Look at
the evaluation suggestions made on the CIEP and Primlangues websites. However, do
check first if your school already has a testing structure in place that you will need to
follow.
Aims

To test word recognition


To test sound discrimination (recognition)
To test grammar knowledge - present simple and present continuous
To test oral comprehension - understanding of simple questions
To test oral expression - production of simple sentences describing self, likes, dislikes
and daily routine

Materials

Photocopied test papers


Answer key for yourself
Minimal pairs script for yourself (see stage 2)

Stage 1: Testing word recognition

Give the learners a series of pictures. Photocopy them onto the test paper. Make sure
these are words that they would have come across in class.
Next to a picture they will have a sentence which reads: 'This is a cat.' The instructions
could read: 'Circle if the sentence is true or false.' Or 'Put a tick or a cross in the box.'
Make sure the names of the objects in the pictures belong to the same lexical
group, e.g. clothes: skirt, shirt, trousers, etc.

Stage 2: Testing sound discrimination

You can start this section off with a minimal pairs exercise. This is when they hear two
words which differ slightly when pronounced. They have to see the two words written
down and have to tick the box of the one they hear. The example used on the
Primlangues site is to distinguish the 'h' sound: Discrimination de sons. Again, type two
columns of similar sounding words with a small box next to each and add to the test
paper.

If you want to test their intonation recognition for questions and answers then go
to this link. This is primarily a Christmas based test so should be adapted. The
instructions are also in French so you could translate these into simple English to make
the test clearer.

Stage 3: Testing grammar knowledge - present tenses,question formation, etc


Give the students a series of scrambled sentences which they have to put into the
correct order. You can do this with word flashcards on the board or they can read the
words and write the correct sentences underneath.
Match the question to the answer with a line; e.g. Q: 'Are you hungry?' A: 'No, I am
not.'
You can have a mix of you speaking and them reading where they have to choose the
correct answer to the question they hear and read. For examples of these task types go
to this link. The vocabulary used here is food and drink.
Do a gap fill where they have to complete a series of sentences with the correct missing
word. Provide them with the missing words jumbled up in a box. This can be used to
test any grammar point you've covered in class.

Stage 4: Testing oral comprehension and oral expression


This is the hardest type of test to carry out especially if you have a large class. You can
organise this in advance with the teacher if he or she can be present.

First of all make sure that the rest of the class are occupied. They need to be doing
something that they don't need you for. It's great for introducing them to student
autonomy and giving responsibility to a chosen few to oversee that noise levels are
kept down etc. You will need to keep an eye on proceedings but discreetly as it's
important that they can be independent from you for a while. Depending on your class
size you may want to split this section over two or three lessons spending three to five
minutes with each pair. Put a list up on the board of the test order and be strict at
change over times when one couple has finished and another has to start.
When testing oral expression it is very useful to have an evaluation sheet per student.
You just fill their names in at the top and then make brief notes as you're listening to
them. Go to this link for an example of an oral exam marking sheet.
Don't try and test more than two students at once. Testing two at once has the
advantage that they can ask each other questions while you listen, intervening when
necessary, but being more attentive to what they're saying rather than worried about
what you've got to say.
The suggestions on the Primlangues website include reading a sentence out loud to
check pronunciation. I personally do this when reviewing homework and not as a
separate testing task. Reading out loud is not something we do naturally and it is
difficult to judge someone's speaking from it. The advantage it has though is that you
can compare different students' ability through using the same text and it takes the
pressure off the children, as they don't have to think of what to say.
The content of the oral test can begin by each person asking his partner questions
about themselves; e.g. 'What's your name?' 'Where do you live?' etc. You may find that
you want to ask these questions yourself if you feel they might not be able to do this
themselves.
You could get students to describe their daily routine. This tests telling the time, using
the present simple, using routine verbs. Then the other student can do the same. For
higher levels they could listen attentively and then repeat back to you the other
person's routine using the third person singular.
As with the written tests, examples are the key and the students should have had
plenty of practice in preceding lessons to know what's expected of them.

Homework
You may decide not to give homework after a test lesson as they will have probably
worked very hard revising and deserve a break. Otherwise you can give a short writing
homework which expands on the oral section of the test. You could get them to write
five sentences describing the daily routine of someone they know. This way they're
using the third person singular; e.g. 'He gets up at seven o'clock.'

Recommendations for follow up


It's vital to feedback on any testing you do whether it be immediately after the test
itself or in the next lesson. It's no good testing without highlighting strong areas and
areas to work on to encourage and further motivate your learners. You could mark the
test in class to make it less formal. Swap the tests so that they're not marking their
own or their best friend's.

If you mark the test, decide what the major weak areas are for the class and do a
follow-up class based on those areas.

In France marks are very important to learners and their parents, even from an early
age so be sensitive to low grades. Make a real effort to give constructive criticism and
find areas where there were some strengths to avoid demotivation.

Internet links

http://www.cambridgeenglish.org/ This site has downloadable examples of Cambridge


reading and writing tests for young learners.
www.primlangues.education.fr - This site has written tests of food vocabulary and
evaluation sheets for pronunciation and varied grammar points, oral exam marking
sheets, and a list of testing suggestions organised into skills tested.
Author:
Jo Bertrand