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Why Assessment?

Sometimes mainstream teachers do not realize that there are several key differences in the methods used to assess students in the regular classroom and the ones used to assess ESL students.  Many students have a fear of the language barrier that prevents them from communicating to the teacher what they actually know. 

Assessment can also help you to determine a learner's potential talent or capacity for learning languages.  Also, it can help you to determine a student's proficiency in a language.  Using assessment can also help to identify the strengths and weaknesses a learner has.  Teaches also need to use assessment to determine how well students are comprehending the material that has been covered or how much information they picked up from a specific course.

Types of Assessment

Some of the more popular forms of assessment that could be used with ESL students include dictation, cloze tests, multiple-choice tests, strip stories, role plays, writing samples, and portfolios.

1.  Dictation is when a teacher reads a passage aloud and the students       write what the teacher is saying.

2.  Cloze tests are passages in which every nth word (ex. fifth, sixth, etc) is deleted and a blank is inserted in its place.  The student must decide the appropriate words for the blanks.

3.  Multiple-choice tests can be used the same way for ESL students that they are in the regular classroom.

4.  Strip stories are passages that are cut apart sentence by sentence for the ESL students to put back in the correct order.

5.  Role plays allow the ESL learners to be put in realistic situations and act them out in English.

6.  Using writing samples helps teachers to determine certain grammatical strengths and weaknesses.

7.  Portfolios are collections of your students' work which show their progress and achievements in one or more areas.  Portfolios help students to see the growth that they have experienced in their language development.

     Works cited:

     Bailey, Kathleen M.  Learning About Language Assessment:   Dilemmas, Decisions, and Directions.  Boston:  Heinle & Heinle Publishers, 1998.

Other Web Sites

Here are some sites that we have found helpful in our own experiences that deal with the issue of assessment in the ESL classroom:

Practical Ideas on Alternative Assessment for ESL
http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/practical.assessment.4.html
This site gives many alternatives for assessing ESL students.  Some of the strategies are non-verbal, K-W-L charts, oral presentations, written products, and portfolios.  A teacher looking for new ways to assess their ESL students will find this site very useful.

Assessment in ESL and Bilingual Education
http://www.nwrac.org/pub/hot/assessment.html
This site answers questions about how to assess an ESL student.  It covers areas such as what types of questions to ask, when to assess the student, and what courses of action to take while assessing a student.

Practical Ideas on Alternative Assessment for ESL
http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content2/practical.assessment.4.html
This site gives many alternatives for assessing ESL students.  Some of the strategies are non-verbal, K-W-L charts, oral presentations, written products, and portfolios.  A teacher looking for new ways to assess their ESL students will find this site very useful.