4.4 Objective and subjective testing
It worth mentioning that apart from scoring and testing the learners abilities another essential role could be devoted to indirect factors that influence evaluating. These are objective and subjective issues in testing. According to Hughes (1989:19), the difference between these two types is the way of scoring and presence or absence of the examiners judgement. If there is not any judgement, the test is objective. On the contrary, the subjective test involves personal judgement of the examiner. The author of the paper sees it as when testing the students objectively, the teacher usually checks just the knowledge of the topic. Whereas, testing subjectively could imply the teachers ideas and judgements. This could be encountered during speaking test where the student can produce either positive or negative impression on the teacher. Moreover, the teachers impression and his/her knowledge of the students true abilities can seriously influence assessing process. For example, the student has failed the test; however, the teacher knows the true abilities of the student and, therefore, s/he will assess the work of that student differently taking all the factors into account.
4.5 Communicative language testing
Referring to Bynom (ibid.), this type of testing has become popular since 1970-80s. It involves the knowledge of grammar and how it could be applied in written and oral language; the knowledge when to speak and what to say in an appropriate situation; knowledge of verbal and non-verbal communication. All these types of knowledge should be successfully used in a situation. It bases on the functional use of the language. Moreover, communicative language testing helps the learners feel themselves in real-life situation and acquire the relevant language.
Weir (1990:7) stipulates that the current type of testing tests exactly the “performance” of communication. Further, he develops the idea of “competence” due to the fact that an individual usually acts in a variety of situations. Afterwards, reconsidering Bachmans idea he comes with another notion communicative language ability.
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 students placement in the so-called real life situation. 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 fades if deprived of the context.
Weir (ibid., p.11) says: “to 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.” 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 direct 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 learners 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 students 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.
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 authors 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:
- ---- not until the invention of the camera that artists correctly painted horses racing.
- There was
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“Cambridge Preparation for the TOEFL Test”:
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 “deceive” 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 students 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 teachers help.
Everything mentioned above has raised the authors 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 “marker” to apply his/her personal attitude to the marking process.
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 students 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 students 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 studen