Assessing Skills


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Assessing Skills

  1. 1. Assessing Skills Dannae Del Campo – Gabriela Quezada Listening Assessment Speaking Assessment Writing Assessment Reading Assessment  Listening comprehension is a process of constructing meaning. It is an inferential process.  The important thing to understand is that spoken language is very different from the written language: a) Firstly, it comes from sounds. Listeners must know the sound system and they also must understand the phonological system. b) The structure of spoken discourse is different. People don’t speak in sentences; they speak in idea units that are strong together (expressions, idioms). People hesitate when they talk. c) Spoken language takes place in real time. It means that the processing must be automatic.  A speaking test is composed by three parts: a task, a rating scale and a rater.  There are three types of rating scales, the intuitive ones, which are made by people in some meetings, the empirical ones in which the idea is to collect sample of language from the students. And finally there are the analytical ones, in which the discourse analysis is used to analyze what the student is saying.  There are two types of reliabilities in speaking tests: - inter-rater reliability, the rater needs to be coherent with the way he/she assess in different moments. Intra-raters reliability  To test writing you need that the test taker actually writes, a focus topic, the specification of the audience, a purpose, a method for judging (rubric) and a trained rater.  To make sure that the writing is reliable you need to have more than one task (item), more than one judge, to score different dimensions of the text, to have more than one writing occasion and to have different scorings.  The teacher must think in educational goals, curricula and syllabus, they also need to have more than one writing occasion, to work  At the moment of assess reading, it is relevant to keep in mind more than one ability to test such as scanning, skimming, identification, among others.  When choosing a passage it is important to consider the purpose of the students, to be presented in an authentic way. Moreover, it should be as real as possible.  We need to choose more than one text in order to make the assessment more reliable.  It is important to have more than one item in the test in order to give equal opportunities for the students.
  2. 2. How teachers must assess listening comprehension.  The teacher must give the listener some task. Based on the performance of the test taker the teacher makes an inference of the level of listening comprehension.  Listening takes place for different purposes. Listening comprehension is an inferential process so it is quite possible that people interpret differently the same text.  Teachers must decide the type of interactiveness in the test (Interactive or Non-interactive).  Teachers should use the following item tasks to assess listening: dictation, statement evaluation activities, pictures, comprehension questions, summary of a passage, gap filling task and information transfer item. Buck, G. (1998) is when different raters can agree with each other when marking or grading.  What is speaking and what we want to assess have to be explicit in the rating scale.  To make more general comments about what the students will be able to do in the speaking task. Fulcher, G. (1998) with other teachers of the department, in order to share pieces of writing and discuss them. In this way, the assessment will be not only reliable but also valid.  Teachers must get all information they can from the assessment process. Moreover, they have to provide feedback with positive comments to learners. (can do statements) Hamp-Lyons, L. (1998)  Multiple choice questions are difficult to write because sometimes they are ambiguous; therefore, they need to be pre- testing. A better option is short answer question and selecting of headings.  For advanced readers a good option is gapped summary, in which the students have to fill in the gaps with the corresponding word or phrase in the summary of the reading.  Information transfer is another good method in which students need to say what they have already read in a table or chart. Clapham, C. (1998)
  3. 3. References Fulcher, G. and Thrasher, R. Language Testing Videos. In association with ILTA, available: