Uzbekistan is making its entry into the international arena. After its independence, the republic of Uzbekistan was faced with the necessity of creating national educational system with new realities that meets world standards and government coped with this task. Several decrees and lows are adopted by our government. Particularly, our first President I. A. Karimov had told important and actual decisions about education system and its development in his books and speeches. He had mentioned many times that our young generation must be more educated, stronger, and happier than ancestors. He supported the education of talented youth abroad which provides an opportunity through a grant to receive a Master degree in different fields of specialization at the most prestigious universities of Great Britain, Germany, and France. President I. A. Karimov resolved to improve foreign language learning system. On December 10, 2012 he signed a new decree “On measures to further improvement foreign language learning system”. Today Uzbekistan is going to begin teaching foreign languages with new teaching approaches which can meet CEFR. According to new methods teaching English is becoming funny, practical and interesting, full of different interactive methods which can let students be active, communicative, and creative during classes.
There are various methods of tests in teaching language and each of them has its influence on teaching. In relation to testing grammar and vocabulary and the four language skills, there are two major categories of techniques plays an essential role on teaching. They are productive techniques that require productive language use and receptive techniques which merely require recognition. Testing grammar focuses on testing tangible aspects of language knowledge: grammar and vocabulary. Why? Because it is relatively easy to show learners that they are making progress. However, by concentrating on these areas exclusively, at the expense of ignoring the assessment of the four major language skills, teachers may be sending a wrong message to their learners. They may think that performing well on tests of grammar and vocabulary equals overall progress in learning language. Testing grammar can be either on sentence-level or in text-based format. On sentence level we can include: multiple-choice (articles/pronouns/modals), 'spot-the-mistake' and underline it, 'spot-the-mistake', underline and correct it, sentence transformation, gap-filling with key word given, gap-filling without cue word given, gap-filling with picture prompts, labeling pictures showing action, making sentences based on word prompts and others. On text-based format we can include techniques such as:
– modified cloze with cue words given after gap
– modified cloze without cue words given
– banked cloze (gapped text with a box containing prompts and distracters).
Testing communicative grammar tasks should be productive rather than receptive ones, and should be meaning-dependent as well as sufficiently contextualized. That is, learners should be able to approach the test task as a communicative one. For this reason, the use of grammatical terms should preferably be avoided in the instructions. Testing vocabulary can be on sentence-level or in text-based format. It is recommended to use recognition techniques for assessing passive vocabulary, and productive methods for testing active vocabulary. In communicative testing, vocabulary should be tested through meaningful and contextualized tasks. Vocabulary can also be tested interactively in listening, reading and speaking tests. There are several ways of vocabulary testing techniques:
We can identify macro- and micro skills for both reading and listening. (Reading: skimming, scanning, using context to guess meaning of unfamiliar words, understanding relations between parts of text by recognizing indicators in discourse, Listening: listening for gist, for specific info, recognizing stylistic characteristics, recognizing the relationship between speakers, inferring meaning from context, etc) These are important to specify, as our purpose of testing reading and listening ability at different levels and in different genres may require the use of different sub skills. There are given testing techniques for testing reading and listening skills:
- multiple-choice questions
- short-answer questions
- information-transfer (transferring specific information from text to a table)
- true / false statements
Before testing speaking first of all let’s identify a question Why do oral tests? Oral communication is more common than written. Learners usually recite a text learnt by heart. But in communicative testing, learners’ ability to communicate cannot base on their performance that derives from rote-learning. In oral testing, learners should demonstrate ability to perform a variety of language functions in a number of realistic conversational settings. Such a performance characterized by extemporization or unplanned, and spontaneity as well as creativity. For assessing learners’ speaking ability we can give several activity types:
– Interviews (between T-S as well as S-S)
– Descriptions of newspaper articles / pictures / books, etc.
– Discussions (real / simulated)
Communicative assessment of learners’ writing skills should be based on the view that learners be able to perform real-world writing tasks which are interactive and purposive and in which they write texts to specific readers. A communicative writing task should specify the following:
– Intended audience
– Purpose for which the text is written
– Topic about which the text is written
– Relationship between writer and reader
These factors influence to genre, style and register of the piece of writing. Writing tasks can be informal and formal letters, filling in forms, postcards, messages, articles for magazines, applications, autobiographies or CVs, letters to magazines and etc,.
Advantages and disadvantages of testing students’ knowledge.
Different scholars, Alderson, Heaton, Underhill, in their researches ask the similar question — why test, do the teachers really need them and for what purpose. Further, they all agree that test is not the teacher’s desire to catch the students unprepared with what they are not acquainted; it is also not the motivating factor for the students to study. In fact, the test is a request for information and possibility to learn what the teachers did not know about their students before. We can add here that the test is important for the students, too. The test is supposed to display not only the students’ weak points, but also their strong sides. It could act as an indicator of progress the student is gradually making learning the language. Moreover, we can cite the idea of Hughes who emphasizes that we can check the progress, general or specific knowledge of the students, etc. This claim will directly lead us to the statement that for each of these purposes there is a special type of testing. Tests are commonly used in association with cognitive goals, to review students’ achievement with respect to a common body of knowledge associated with a discipline or practice. There are several reasons for testing. Tests may be used as a means to:
- give the teacher information about where the students are at the moment, to help decide what to teach next;
- give the students information about what they know, so that they also have an awareness of what they need to learn or review;
- assess for some purpose external to current teaching (a final grade for the course, selection);
- motivate students to learn or review specific material;
- get a noisy class to keep quite and concentrate;
- provide a clear indication that the class has reached a ‘station’ in learning such as the end of a unit, thus contributing to a sense of structure in the course as a whole;
- give students tasks which themselves may actually provide useful review or practice, as well as testing;
- provide students with a sense of achievement and progress in their learning.
Every test should be reliable as well as valid. Both notions are very crucial elements of testing.
When students take a test, ideally they will receive information (feedback) about their competence, based on their performance. That feedback should «wash back» to them in the form of useful diagnoses of strengths and weaknesses. Washback also includes the effects of an assessment on teaching and learning prior to the assessment itself. If in our language teaching we can attend to these principles in evaluating or adapting existing procedures, or in designing new ones on our own, then we are well on the way to making accurate judgments about the competence of the lea There are several elicitation techniques of a test and we want to introduce some of them as it is important in planning or designing the tests. They are:
- Questions and answers. What is the (family) relationship between David Coppertfield and Mr Murdstone? These can be used to test almost anything. The more ‘closed’ the question is the easier the item will be to mark.
- True/false. A statement is given which is to be marked true or false. This may also be given as a question, in which case the answer is yes or no.
Addis Ababa is the capital of Egypt? Is Addis Ababa the capital of Egypt? It may be used to test aspects of language such as vocabulary, grammar, content of a reading or listening passage. It is fairly easy to design and administer whether orally or in writing, and to mark.
- Multiple-choice. The question consists of a stem and a number of options (usually four), from which the testee has to select the right one. A person who writes books is called
a) a booker. b) an editor. c)an author. d) a publisher. This may be used for the same testing purposes as true/false items; it is obviously very easy to mark. It is administered more conveniently through writing.
- Gap-filling and completion. The testee has to complete a sentence by filling a gap or adding something. A gap may or may not be signaled by a blank or dash; the word to be inserted may or may not be given or hinted at.
They (go) to Australia in 1980. Or They_______________ Australia in 1980. (go) Or A _________________ is someone who writes books. Or I have seen that film. (never)
- Matching. The testee is faced with two group of words, phrases or sentences; each item in the first group has to be linked to a different item in the second. Large small
A lot big
This usually tests vocabulary. Items can be time-consuming and difficult to compose, and answers are fairly easily checked.
- Dictation. It usually tests spelling, perhaps punctuation and listening comprehension: people can only usually write words down accurately from dictation if they understand them. It may supply some information on testees’ passive knowledge of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. It is very easy to administer and simple to mark.
- Cloze. Words are omitted from a passage at regular intervals (for example, every seventh word). Usually the first two or three lines are given with no gaps.
The family is all fine, though Leo had a bad bout of flu last week. He spent most of it lying on the sofa watching ___________ when he wasn’t sleeping!
His exams_________ in two weeks, so he is_______________ about missing school, but has managed to________________ quite a lot in spite ______________ feeling ill.
It tests intensive reading, spelling, and to some extent knowledge of vocabulary and grammar. It is easy to prepare and administer.
- Transformation. A sentence is given and the testee has to change it according to some given instruction.
Put into the past tense:
I go to school by bus.
This item is relatively easy to design, administer and mark, but its validity may be suspect. It tests the ability of the testee to transform grammatical structures, which is not the same as testing grammar: a testee may perform well on transformation items without knowing the meaning of the target structure or how to use it in context. Marking is fairly straightforward.
- Rewriting. A sentence is given so the testee rewrites it, incorporating a given change of expression, but preserving the basic meaning.
He came to the meeting in spite of his illness. Although…..
It involves paraphrasing the entire meaning of a sentence rather than transforming a particular item. It is, however difficult to compose.
- Translation. The testee is asked to translate expressions, sentences or entire passages to or from the target language. Marking may sometimes be more difficult, but not prohibitively so.
- Monologue. The testee is given a topic or question and asked to speak about it for a minute or two. It tests oral fluency and overall knowledge of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. To choose a topic is not so difficult but to assess it is very difficult. rners with whom we are working. First of all we should state the fact that the role of tests is very useful and important, especially in English language teaching, for they indicates how much the teachers have taught during a course, as well as display the strength and weaknesses of the teaching process and help the teacher improve it. The tests can facilitate the students’ acquisition process and function as a tool to increase their motivation. However, too much of testing could be disastrous changing entirely the students’ attitude towards learning the language, especially if the results are usually dissatisfying.
- Alderson, J. C, and Banerjee, J. “Language testing and assessment” (PartI). Longman 2001.
- Alderson, J. C, Clapham, C. and Wll, D. (1995) “Language Test Construction and Evaluation”, Cambridge University Press.
- A. P. R. Howatt with H. G. Widdowson “A History of English Language Teaching” Second Edition, Oxford, UK: Oxford University. 2004