The following blog post was written by Shannon Lu, a faculty member at the Centre for Excellence in Immigrant and Intercultural Advancement.
The Observer Effect in physics states that the act of observing changes the thing that is being observed. Now, I know we didn’t get to be English teachers by being good at physics, but the principal holds true for observing language. Our outcomes based assessments do not always give us an accurate sample of the learners’ real language abilities. Here are a few suggestions that might help you get the best speaking and listening samples:
- Don’t let trouble with reading interfere. Read the questions to the learners before they hear the text. They should know what they are listening for and not have trouble finding the answer they know is right.
- Don’t put unnecessary time pressure on the learners. They should have a reasonable amount of time to think and mark their answers.
- Require learners to use their listening in daily tasks. Observe who can follow instructions.
- Make an anecdotal check sheet based on the Benchmark outcomes for your level. Make a point to check off outcomes you observe in casual interactions between learners and when they are speaking to you. You might hear good vocabulary, common phrases, or idioms.
- Set up group speaking activities frequently and move from group to group checking off what you hear. Formal presentations have their place but are rehearsed and memorized (so… is that real language?). Speaking interviews make the students freeze up so they simplify their language out of fear.
More ideas? Tag! You’re it.