Assessment in secondary modern foreign languages
Assessment in secondary modern foreign languages

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2.3 Assessing language skills

In the MFL classroom, where a lesson will often consist of several small steps that each build on the one before, it is important that the teacher constantly assesses the students’ progress at the end of each step, as well as at the end of each lesson, to ensure that the students are ready to move to the next level of activity. This is particularly important when new language is introduced into the lesson. The students need to become familiar with that language before moving on to practise its use in different ways before being ready to perform and/or manipulate that language independently.

The next activity will enable you to consider what needs to be assessed in MFL teaching and learning, and how that assessment can be managed and made effective.

Activity 3

Timing: Allow about 90 minutes

Read the document ‘Good assessment practice in modern foreign languages (MFL)’ [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , which sets out Ofsted’s view of good practice in the assessment of MFL. (Ofsted is the inspection body for education in England.)

Summarise the advice it gives in a table, listing the assessment activities and examples of good assessment practice that matches these activities. Some examples are provided in Table 1.

Table 1 Good practice in MFL assessment
Assessment opportunity Example of good practice Explanation
Oral work Correction of pronunciation and intonation The teacher is by and large the ‘model’ for correct pronunciation and intonation
Focused questioning Teacher asks closely focused questions to elicit understanding (e.g. grammatical patterns) The ‘Socratic’ approach (using questions to guide the learner to a better understanding) is a very effective technique
Plenary
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Vocabulary testing
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Written work
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Homework
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Go back to the different elements in the two categories identified by Atkinson and Lazarus (2002) that should be assessed in MFL: fluency and accuracy. How do the assessment activities and examples of good practice that you have noted in the table help you to assess these? Add any other examples that you have observed or used in your own school context.

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