Category Archives: Evaluation

EAP Speaking Rubrics: A Student-Centred Approach

A Brief Introduction

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In this blog entry, I will attempt to briefly describe the contents of a presentation my colleague Glenn Ewing and I shared at TESL Niagara on February 8, 2020.

Glenn and I have been interested in EAP Speaking rubrics for many years. Information shared here and during the presentation is based on our personal reflection, professional experience, education, and research. Our focus is mainly on EAP speaking rubrics for midterm assessment. We maintain that typical EAP speaking rubrics often present some flaws which make them ineffective for the learner. We attempt to explain some of the problems, propose some principles of rubric design, and finally, promote, as an alternative, student-centred, formative speaking rubrics.

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PBLA CHECKS AND RECHECKS AND RECORDS HAVE SHADES OF TOTALITARIAN RULE, SAY LEARNERS

wooden clipboard with checklist lettering on paper isolated on white
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Many teachers who have questioned portfolio-based language assessment (PBLA) have been wrongly described as “resistors” by PBLA administrators (for a discussion, see Desyatova, 2020). The students in my classes are not resistors: They are keen observers who have seen something that has not been raised before about the portfolio.  In one particular class, my students have observed that the “culture of assessment” inherent in PBLA (Desyatova, 2020, p.11) has features reminiscent of their lives under rule by the former Soviet Union, Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR).        

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Meaningless Grammarisms

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When you hear a newscaster say, “The hurricane has WENT from Hawaii to Osaka overnight,” perhaps, like me, you yell, “That’s GONE from Hawaii, you knucklehead!” Nevertheless, you have understood that knucklehead perfectly despite the grammatical error.  There is no ambiguity in his meaning.

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Spring Reflections

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The cherry blossoms are out! It’s spring and finally warm enough to ride my bike to work.  I do my best thinking on that bike. With a new semester starting, I find myself reflecting on the semester gone by.  Peddling on cold, rainy days tends to cause me to remember my failures, but on warm, sunny mornings, I recall my successes.  For 16 years I have been teaching university prep writing, grammar, reading, speaking, and listening to students from around the world. 

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Reading Progress Reports

It’s fall again and that means it’s time to talk about progress reports. Whether you are talking about LINC learners’ progress reports, or the progress reports their children bring home from school, reports often contain a grade and some coinciding comments. However, in my experience, I find most of my students only look at the grades and don’t even read the comments. This is a shame because the comments can add helpful information, for both parents who may be learning English in a LINC program and their children. Continue reading

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Bending Without Breaking: Error Correction in a Culturally-Sensitive World

I’ve become accustomed to taking a hatchet to my own writing. I’m a severe editor of my own bad stuff, but that has never bothered me. I keep at it, trying to arrive at what I want to say.

Fifteen odd years of editing and re-editing of my own work (and that of others) has helped me build a semblance of emotional elasticity. But, how am I to communicate this elasticity to the handful of internationally-trained adult English language learners who are now under my guidance? Continue reading

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Cans, Wants, and Wills

Concept image of a Calendar with the text: Lessons Learned

This activity is meant to be a student’s journey to self-regulation (see Schunk & Zimmerman, 1997). The activity can take place at any time during the school term and is meant to awaken in students the desire to achieve their goals one step at a time. Hence, the process to self-regulation is the goal. Continue reading

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Student-Led Discussions

Meeting Of Support Group
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During my TESL practicum, I was privileged to work with a wonderful instructor in an EAP class. My practicum supervisor* was great at scaffolding and layering; as the course progressed, each language skill was incorporated into subsequent lesson activities until it all culminated in a final project. The class was in oral skills with the final project being a presentation. Along with using the targeted language from the semester, the presentations also included a focus on appropriate body language, strategies to engage the audience, and the use of technology.

While presentations are common in English language classes, they can be very stressful and time consuming. In order to add variety to the assessments during the course, another activity that was required of the students, and that could easily be adapted for any type of ESL classroom, was leading a discussion group. Not only did we use this in the EAP context, I used the same activity in an EFL class that I taught in Ecuador in which the students were preparing to take the First Cambridge Exam.  Here is how I did it!

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See No Evil, Speak No Evil

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Image source: www.bigstockphoto.com

I’ve just come from giving a presentation with a wonderful group of teachers at the TESL Ontario Conference in Toronto. My presentation was on reflective practice and we were all sharing ideas on various ways teachers can reflect on their teaching.

One teacher suggested doing peer observations. I immediately saw looks of uneasiness on a few faces. I don’t blame them as  I too have had some bad experiences with peer observations, but I have also had many great ones. So, here are some suggestions on how you can, hopefully, have a positive experience with peer observations. Continue reading

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The Benefits of Bloom

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image source: Google Images

We all know the expression, “Beauty is in the eye of the beholder”, but is it really true? Art theorists and philosophers would answer “No, of course not!” and here I quote Dennis Dutton, famous art theorist who stated in his 2010 Ted Talk, “…it’s deep in our minds. It’s a gift handed down from the intelligent skills and rich emotional lives of our most ancient ancestors.” In other words, the experience of beauty is not subjective, but quite objective. There are clear guidelines or criteria to what constitutes beauty for all of us, based on our genetic pre-disposition. Continue reading

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