Saturday, 26 November 2011

What are you evaluating?

I have had the chance to see different kinds of tests from other teachers. I always get ideas from them, because I know I am not perfect, and I must improve my own work. So, the best way is by learning from other teachers.
But sometimes I am worried, because I don't know if I am so different or what, but some of the tests I have seen are weird for me.
I really don't get what they are trying to do, and what they are trying to evaluate.
Maybe you can criticize my way of evaluating, because I put emphasis in listening and reading comprehension. I wish my students can get the main information, they can get the main ideas, keywords, guessing ideas. But other teachers put emphasis in grammar, that students must write perfectly.
For instance. If the activity is like this: Change the following senteces into present continuous.
Then you have this sentence:  I write a book.
And the student writes: I am writeing a book.
Some teachers can give one point to this item, and maybe, they will say it is wrong, because the student wrote "writeing", instead of "writing",
Well, what I do is this: I give two points for this exercise. Because I want to check if my students can get the two most important aspects: the use of the verb To Be, and the ending ING. The student could remember both aspects. But the fact of leaving the letter "e" in the word "writeing", is just a minor detail. If it is me, as a teacher, I will give the two points. For me it is perfect.
Teachers tend to confuse some aspects. Are you evaluating grammar or spelling? Are you evaluating vocabulary or length? Are you evaluating pronunciation, entonation or fluency? Are you evaluating the skill of getting main ideas, or the idea that "just you" consider the main idea?
English as a second language can be like a song. Everyone gets a different feeling from it.
So, as teachers, we have to be precise in what we want to evaluate, and let's not be so hard. If there is just one spelling mistake, we can't consider the whole answer wrong  (unless, the mistake changes the meaning of the word).
English can be similar to mathematic, but let's not be so exact as maths. That is the beauty of the language, every word can have a different meaning to the hearer.

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