ERIC Number: ED266658
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1985-Nov
Reference Count: 0
Toward a More Personalized Foreign Language Placement Exam.
Beitter, Ursula E.
The commonly-occurring mismatch between second language student and course level, resulting in student boredom or intimidation, is due to overreliance on standardized language tests. These tests emphasize passive skills, such as recognition of grammatical structures and translation, and they ignore the element of communicative competence. As a result of a technical mishap, one teacher undertook impromptu individual student interviews consisting of five questions designed to elicit oral responses and five questions to elicit more expansive narratives, which included a past tense and a conjunction. The interview setting was informal and relaxed, and errors were not corrected. In addition to the interview, students were asked to read a portion of a test booklet for pronunciation and to describe pictures. The overall results confirmed a suspicion that the usual recorded speaking portion of the test did not measure student skills adequately and that it would have resulted in incorrect placement of a number of students. Common problems in the test administration setting, such as time pressure, testing after several months away from language instruction, equipment malfunction or inadequacy, and lack of knowledgeable monitors, are suspected of contributing to the student placement problem. Whenever possible, the standardized placement exam should be augmented with a five- or ten-minute interview segment to test communicative abilities. (MSE)
Publication Type: Guides - Classroom - Teacher; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Audience: Teachers; Practitioners
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Teachers of German (New York, NY, November 28-30, 1985).