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.
Read the document ‘Good assessment practice in modern foreign languages (MFL)’, 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.
|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|
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.