After a very fruitful first forum day I decided to devote my time to learning more about assessment in English language teaching.

So, I started with attending a plenary session by Jamie Dunlea, whose speech was based on incorporating the CEFR into language test development.

What is the CEFR?
I’m really grateful to Jamie for giving a very thorough overview of what the CEFR is in terms what it stands for, all the history behind it, what we need it for and the learner levels. For more experienced teachers all these things may seem to be very familiar, as we have to deal with preparing our students for international proficiency tests, and what is more important, for most of the teachers working in secondary schools: preparing high school students for GIA and EGE. However, my experience lets me admit, and it’s sad, that newly qualified teachers have never heard about the CEFR/ heard something, but can’t tell what we need to know about it. There’s one more thing: all teachers have to create tests at some point of their teaching for different kinds of assessment. This is where we have to appeal to the CEFR specifications.

Jamie’s message is: nothing is perfect! He shared the cautions and criticisms of the framework as well as how it was applied to testing in and outside Europe. For example, for me it was something new to learn that in Taiwan (GEPT) and Japan (EIKEN) they tried to generate the tests that fitted local contexts.

Nothing is written on stone, so there are still the gaps that need to be filled in terms of validation, cognitive processes, test specifications, test tasks.

If you still think that the CEFR is something that you need to learn more about, Jamie Dunlea’s plenary session will be posted by BC Moscow online - you are more than welcome to watch it!

There are lots of questions a teacher might ask when it comes to assessing student competencies.

Have you ever experienced negative feelings about assessment? Why? When?

Why students don’t learn what we teach?
Are we bad teachers?
Are they bad students?

Do you share learning goals with your students?
Do you provide constructive, timely, focused feedback?
Do you involve students in self-assessment?

That is why I really wanted to listen to Elena Prilipko’s workshop on assessing competencies of students of non-linguistic specialisms in ESP and EAP.

This session was very informative, more than that, we tried to answer these and other questions relying on our own context! It’s always good to reflect. But what I liked most of all is that Elena gladly shared her experience in creating checklists and assessment rubrics. I use them for online course participants, and they are reeeeally very helpful in structuring students’ knowledge.

What do teachers need to know about professional assessment?
Ekaterina Rastoltseva’s talk on professional assessment was interesting not only for senior teachers and teacher trainers, that’s why around 150 people came. Ekaterina shared the practice of interviewing “fresh” teachers, as she called them, and constant peer-trainer monitoring. Ekaterina eagerly responded to all participants’ questions, yet there were still many questions unanswered and the discussion went after the talk.

Posted by Lucia Zhurukova

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