–ефераты. Types of tests used in English Language Teaching Bachelor Paper

with another notion Ц Сcommunicative language abilityТ.

Weir (1990:10-11) assumes that in order to work out a good

communicative language test we have to bear in mind the issue of precision:

both the skills and performance should be accurate. Besides, their

collaboration is vital for the studentsТ placement in the so-called Сreal

life situationТ. However, without a context the communicative language test

would not function. The context should be as closer to the real life as

possible. It is required in order to help the student feel him/herself in

the natural environment. Furthermore, Weir (ibid.) stresses that language

СfadesТ if deprived of the context.

Weir (ibid., p.11) says: Уto measure language proficiency adequately

in each situation, account must be taken of: where, when, how, with whom,

and why the language is to be used, and on what topics, and with what

effect.Ф Moreover, Weirs (ibid.) emphasises the crucial role of the

schemata (prior knowledge) in the communicative language tests.

The tasks used in the communicative language testing should be

authentic and СdirectТ in order the student will be able to perform as it

is done in everyday life.

According to Weir (ibid.), the students have to be ready to speak in

any situation; they have to be ready to discuss some topics in groups and

be able to overcome difficulties met in the natural environment. Therefore,

the tests of this type are never simplified, but are given as they could be

encountered in the surroundings of the native speaker. Moreover, the

student has to possess some communicative skills, that is how to behave in

a certain situation, how to apply body language, etc.

Finally, we can repeat that communicative language testing involves

the learnerТs ability to operate with the language s/he knows and apply it

in a certain situation s/he is placed in. S/he should be capable of

behaving in real-life situation with confidence and be ready to supply the

information required by a certain situation. Thereof, we can speak about

communicative language testing as a testing of the studentТs ability to

behave him/herself, as he or she would do in everyday life. We evaluate

their performance.

To conclude we will repeat that there are different types testing used

in the language teaching: discreet point and integrative testing, direct

and indirect testing, etc. All of them are vital for testing the students.

Chapter 5

Testing the Language Skills

In this chapter we will attempt to examine the various elements or

formats of tests that could be applied for testing of four language skills:

reading, listening, writing and speaking. First, we will look at multiple-

choice tests, after that we will come to cloze tests and gap filling, then

to dictations and so on. Ultimately, we will attempt to draw a parallel

between them and the skills they could be used for.

5.1 Multiple choice tests

It is not surprising why we have started exactly with multiple-choice

tests (MCQs, further in the text). To the authorТs concern these tests are

widely used by teachers in their teaching practice, and, moreover, are

favoured by the students (Here the author has been supported by the

equivalent idea of Alderson (1996:222)). Heaton (1990:79) believes that

multiple-choice questions are basically employed to test vocabulary.

However, we can argue with the statement, for the multiple choice tests

could be successfully used for testing grammar, as well as for testing

listening or reading skills.

It is a well-known fact how a multiple-choice test looks like:

1. ---- not until the invention of the camera that artists

correctly painted horses racing.

A) There was

B) It was

C) There

D) It

УCambridge Preparation for the TOEFL TestФ:

A task basically is represented by a number of sentences, which should

be provided with the right variant, that, in its turn, is usually given

below. Furthermore, apart from the right variant the students are offered a

set of distractors, which are normally introduced in order to УdeceiveФ the

learner. If the student knows the material that is being tested, s/he will

spot the right variant, supply it and successfully accomplish the task. The

distractors, or wrong words, basically slightly differ from the correct

variant and sometimes are even funny. Nevertheless, very often they could

be represented by the synonyms of the correct answer whose differences are

known to those who encounter the language more frequently as their job or

study field. In that case they could be hardly differentiated, and the

students are frustrated. Certainly, the following cases could be implied

when teaching vocabulary, and, consequently, will demand the studentsТ

ability to use the right synonym. The author of the paper had given the

multiple-choice tests to her students and must confess that despite

difficulties in preparing them, the students found them easier to do. They

motivated their favour for them as it was rather convenient for them to

find the right variant, definitely if they knew what to look for. We

presume that such test format as if motivated the learners and supplied

them additional support that they were deprived during the test where

nobody could hope for the teacherТs help.

Everything mentioned above has raised the authorТs interest in the

theory on multiple-choice test format and, therefore, she finds extremely

useful the following list of advantages and disadvantages generated by

Weir. He (1990:43) lists four advantages and six disadvantages of the

multiple-choice questions test. Let us look at the advantages first:

. According to Weir, the multiple-choice questions are structured in

such a form that there is no possibility for the teacher or as he

places УmarkerФ to apply his/her personal attitude to the marking


The author of the paper finds it to be very significant, for employing

the test of this format we see only what the student knows or does not

know; the teacher cannot raise or lower the marker basing on the studentsТ

additional ideas displayed in the work. Furthermore, the teacher, though

knowing the strong and weak points of his/her students, cannot apply this

information as well to influence the mark. What s/he gets are the pure

facts of the studentsТ knowledge.

Another advantage is:

. The usage of pre-test that could be helpful for stating the level of

difficulty of the examples and the test in the whole. That will

reduce the probability of the test being inadequate or too

complicated both for completing and marking.

This could mean that the teacher can ensure his/her students and

him/herself against failures. For this purposes s/he just has to test the

multiple-choice test to avoid troubles connected with its inadequacy that

later can lead to the disaster for the students receiving bad marks due to

the fact that the testТs examples were too complicated or too ambiguous.

The next advantage concerns the format of the test that clearly implies

the idea of what the learner should do. The instructions are clear,

unambiguous. The students know what they are expected to do and do not

waste their precious time on trying to figure out what they are supposed to


The last advantage displayed by Weir is that the MCQs in a certain

context are better than open-ended or short-answer questions, for the

learners are not required to produce their writing skills. This eliminates

the studentsТ fear of mistakes they can make while writing; moreover, the

task does not demand any creative activity, but only checks the exact

knowledge of the material.

Having considered the advantages of MCQs, it is worth speaking about its

disadvantages. We will not present all of them only what we find of the

utmost interest and value for us.

The first disadvantage concerns the studentsТ guessing the answers;

therefore, we cannot objectively judge his/her true knowledge of the topic.

We are not able to see whether the student knows the material or have just

luckily ticked or circled the right variant. Therefore, it could be

connected with another shortcoming of the following test format that while

scoring the teacher will not get the right and true picture of what the

students really know.

Another interesting point that could be mentioned it that multiple-

choice differ from the real-life situation by the choice of alternatives.

Usually, in our everyday life we have to choose between two alternatives,

whereas the multiple-choice testing might confuse the learner by the

examples s/he even has not thought about. That will definitely lead to

frustration, and, consequently, to the studentТs failure to accomplish the

task successfully.

Besides, regarding Weir (ibid.) who quotes Heaton (1975) we can

stipulate that in some cases multiple-choice tests are not adequate and it

is better to use open-ended questions to avoid the pro-long lists of

multiple-choice items. This probably will concern the subject, which will

require a more precise description and explanation from the studentsТ side.

To finish up with the drawbacks of MCQs we can declare that they are

relatively costly and time-consuming to prepare. The test designer should

carefully select and analyse each item to be included in the test to avoid

ambiguity and imprecision. Furthermore, s/he should check all possible

grammar, spelling and punctuation mistakes, evaluate the quality of

information offered for the learnersТ tasks and choose the correct and

relevant distractors for the students not to confuse them during the test.

To conclude we can cite Heaton (1990:17) who stipulates that designing a

multiple-choice items test is not so fearful and hard as many teachers

think. The only thing you need is practice accompanied by a bit of theory.

He suggests for an inexperienced teacher to use not more than three options

if the teacher encounters certain difficulties in supplying more examples

for the distractors. The options should be grammatically correct and of

equal length. Moreover, the context should be appropriate to illustrate an

example and make the student guess right.

5.2 Short answer tests

A further format that is worth mentioning is short answer test

format. According to Alderson (1996:223) short answer tests could be

substitutes to multiple-choice tests. The only difference is that apart

from the optional answers the students will have to provide short answers.

The author of the paper had not used this test format, thus, she cannot

draw on her experience. Therefore, she will just list the ideas produced by

other linguists, to be more exact AldersonТs suggestions.

Alderson (ibid.) believes that short answer tests will contribute to

the studentsТ results, for they will be able to support their answers and,

if necessary, clarify why they responded in that way but not the other. It

could be explained that the students will have an opportunity to prove

their answers and support them if necessary.

Nevertheless, the short answer tests are relatively complicated for

the teacher to be designed. The teacher has to consider a variety of ideas

and thoughts to create a fairy relevant test with fairly relevant items.

May be that could explain the fact why this test format is not such a

common occasion as MCQs are.

At this point we have come to advantages and drawbacks of short

answer tests. Weir (1990:44) says that this type of testing differs from

MCQs by the absence of the answers. The students have to provide the answer

themselves. That will give the marker the clear idea whether the students

know what they write about or not. Certainly, the teacher will be definite

about the studentsТ knowledge, whereas in MCQs s/he can doubt whether the

students know or have just guessed the correct answer. Moreover, short

answer test could make the students apply their various language skills

techniques they use while dealing with any reading, listening or speaking


Finally, Weir (ibid.) stipulates that if the questions are well

formulated, there is a high chance the student will supply short, well-

formulated answer. Therefore, a variety of questions could be included in

the test to cover a broader field of the studentТs knowledge, and certainly

it will require a great work from the teacher.

Nevertheless, there are certain drawbacks displayed by the following

test format. One of the major disadvantages could be the studentsТ

involvement in writing. For if we are determined to check the students

reading abilities, it is not appropriate to give the students writing tasks

due to the high possibility of the spelling and grammar mistakes that may

occur during the process. Therefore, we have to decide upon our priorities

Ц what do we want to test. Furthermore, the students while writing can

produce far different answers than expected. It will be rather complicated

to decide whether to consider them as mistakes or not.

5.3 The cloze test and gap-filling tests

Before coming to the theory on cloze tests we assume that it is

necessary for us to speak about a term УclozeФ. Weir (1990:46) informs that

it was coined by W.L. Taylor (1953) from the word СclosureТ and meant the

individualТs ability to complete a model.

However, to follow the model one has to posses certain skills to do

so. Hence, we can speak about introduction of such skill that Weir calls

deduction. Deduction is an important aspect for dealing with anything that

is unknown and unfamiliar. Thus, before giving a cloze test the teacher has

to be certain whether his/her students are familiar with the deduction


Alderson (1996:224) assumes that there are two cloze test techniques:

pseudo-random and rational cloze technique. In the pseudo-random test the

test designer deletes words at a definite rate, or as Heaton (1990:19)

places it, systematically, for example every 7th word should be deleted

occasionally with the initiate letter of the omitting word left as a


Although you may think of Britain as England ,i...is really four

countries in one. There a.. Е..four very distinct nations within the

British IЕЕЕ: England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland, each with their

oЕ..unique culture, history, cuisine, literature aЕ..even languages.

(Discovering Britain, Pavlockij B.

M., 2000)

However, the task could be more demanding if the teacher will not

assist the learnersТ guesses and will not provide any hints:

Scotland is in the north and Wales in the west wereЕЕЕseparate

countries. They have different customs,ЕЕЕЕЕЕ.., language and, in ScotlandТ

s case, different legal and educationalЕЕЕЕЕЕ.


The examples shown above do not yield to be ideal examples at all.

Without doubt, the material used in the task should more or less provide

the students with the appropriate clues to form correct guessing.

Notwithstanding, the author of the paper has used such tests in her

practice and according to her observations; she can conclude that the tasks

with the first letter left are highly motivating for the students and

supply a lot of help for them. Moreover, having discussed the following

test format the teacher has revealed that the students like it and receive

a real pleasure if they are able to confirm their guess and find the right


However, according to Alderson (ibid.), the teacher commonly does not

intend to check a certain material by the cloze test. The main point here

is the independence of the student and his/her ability to apply all the

necessary techniques to fill in the blank spaces. Concerning the mentioned-

above scholars, we have to agree that the following type of test is

actually relatively challenging, for it demands vast language knowledge

from the student. Heaton (ibid.) believes that each third or fourth deleted

word can turn into the handicap for the learner due to the lack of

prompting devices, such as collocations, prepositions, etc. Whereas, the

removal of each ninth word may even lead to the exhausting reading process.

On the contrary, the rational cloze technique, or as it is usually

called gap-filling, is based on the deletion of words connected with the

topic the teacher wants or intends to check. At this time the teacher

controls the procedure more than it is in the pseudo-random test discussed

above. Moreover, s/he tries to delete every fifth or sixth word, but does

it rather carefully not to distort the meaning and mislead the learner.

Besides, a significant factor in this type of testing is that the teacher

removes exactly the main words that are supposed to be checked, i.e.:

BritainЕЕ.a deceptively large island and ЕЕsurrounded by some very

beautiful coastline. The south of England has popular sandy beaches,

especially in the west. But the coast in the south west WalesЕ..a unique

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