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Tesol 2016 Electronic Village: Pre-Arrival Assessment and Placement of ELLs Presentation handout


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TESOL 2016, Baltimore
Presentation in Classroom Tools on April 6, 2016 by Candice Marshall
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Tesol 2016 Electronic Village: Pre-Arrival Assessment and Placement of ELLs Presentation handout

  1. 1. TESOL 2016 Electronic Village, April 6, 2016 (11 AM) Pre-Arrival Assessment and Placement of ELLs using Synchronous and Asynchronous Online Tools Candice J. Marshall, M.A., Earlham College Email: In Short: Working at a small, but very diverse, liberal arts college in the Midwestwith an ESL instruction staff of 1 ½, with a growing number of international admissions, we found that simply relying on post-arrival COMPASS testing to place students in classes was leading to increasingly difficulties and student dissatisfaction with first year students. To mitigate this, we devised a pre-screening and placement process to help alleviate the frenzy ofNew Student Orientation and post-arrival placementtesting anxiety by setting up a way to screen for potential ELL’s and then to subsequently interview and place them into the appropriate courses pre-arrival. Screening for the Pre-Arrival Interview The admissions office sends all accepted international student applicantfolders to the International Programs Office(IPO) once they have confirmed they will be attending. From there, the IPO office reviews their file, checks for submitted testscores (TOEFL, SAT, ACT), and determines whether they should be interviewed based on the criteria previously agreed upon for incoming student scores (i.e. under a 94 TOEFL should be screened). Ifno scores were submitted, the student is automatically flagged for pre- screening oflanguage skills. Setting up the Interview: The list of students who have been “flagged” for pre-screening then goes to the English instructors, who, in turn, contact the students to setup a time for a video interview. Doodle ( was used as the scheduling tool. The email to the students included information regarding time zone differences and the type of program to be used to conductthe interview (Skype or Firefox Hello). Conducting the Interview: Once the time was arranged, a confirmation email would be sentand any further information needed would be provided/requested (i.e. Skype user name or link to Firefox Hello Chat)(Firefox Hello had a lot ofbugs, Skype was preferred). For the interview itself, a Google Form was created as a method ofrecording the student’s responses.In mostcases, students were on a computer and were able to pull up the form and follow along as the interviewer asked the questions. Then after talking about the question, the studentwould mark their answer or type their response. The interviewer also took notes manually during the discussion. Some students did nothave access to Google (i.e. in China) and so for them, the interviewer transcribed their responses into the form. The last item required writing sample, which required a bit more time, but the students were permitted to complete the writing sample offcamera if they preferred (to reduce anxiety). For students without access to the form, they were asked to respond via email. Upon completion, the studentwas asked to submit the form, and the interviewer could check to make sure it was received. The form is available at: Placement: Based on their fluency and responses and the courses available, the instructor determined whether ESL courses would be necessary, and made the appropriate recommendations to the IPO, Admissions, and Registrar’s Office. Results: After the1st semester, moststudents’ placements were deemed accurate.