Everyone knows that TEFL simmers with testing, which shouldn't be much of a surprise given the high standards of the course and the need for all round skill development of students. However, with so many information on different tests flying around, it can be quite difficult to understand what's what and key differences between them. In fact you may even know about certain tests without being aware of their label or what purpose they serve. So to start off with, let's take a look at different tests that are relevant to a class of foreign learners.
The Three "P"'s
Placement test is useful to find the ideal course for a student, especially when a concrete syllabus will be used during the course. This helps in places where there are numerous courses available to be pursued and the student is confused on what suits their goals and skills the best.
A progress tests helps determine how much the student has learnt, and is conducted both during and after the completion of the course. This should ideally revolve around the course content.
Proficiency test, on the other hand measures the fluency and mastery of the English language away from the confines of the curriculum. It is used to assess the proficiency of specific spoken/written skills in contrast to a generalised assessment.
Norm & Criterion Testing
Norm testing helps in finding out the skills and progress of a student relative to other students and arriving at a percentile score by making a comparison. This is usually used in courses where there is big demand and only those scoring a 80th percentile or such will be selected. The idea is that rather than the mark, the rank plays the crucial role. So even if your marks are low, as long as they're better than 80% of the students, you're selected.
Criterion testing on other hand makes no such comparison but rather focuses on the ability of the student to meet a certain criteria/standards of the test.
Language Dominance Test
This is important since TEFL students are bilingual, its very likely that their native language overpowers their English. So you've got to analyse the strengths and weaknesses of both the languages of a student and design a curriculum that better suits their profile. For instance, some students may be great in writing creative essays in English but fall back to their native language while making conversational small talk.
These tests are used after the completion of the course to get feedback from the student on the curriculum and and teaching methods. This helps in preparation of future courses.
Direct & Indirect Tests
Direct tests are used for assessing a student's ability in writing/speaking/reading in a straightforward manner. For instance, to check their ability to write letter/essays, they'll be given a topic and asked to write an essay on it.
Indirect tests on other hand assesses their knowledge of a specific skill with the use of multiple choice questions, comprehension, jumbled sentences, etc.
There are also integrative tests which involve a combination of different skills. For example, you might be asked to listen to a speech and then write a essay either supporting or denouncing the content of the speech.
There are more tests tucked away in a TEFL teacher's arsenal and we shall explore them all in a subsequent article. Until then, please share in the comment, your preferred type of testing for a TEFL class.