In order to further prep myself for the Innovate ELT Conference in Barcelona where I will be giving a talk titled How technology helps you improve what your students can do I sat in on Ian Wood’s session yesterday at the Pearson Morning for English Teachers of Cambridge Exams event in Madrid. Ian is something of our own in house guru on all things testing and is extremely adept at using clear language and metaphors to express quite difficult and meaty concepts from the world of English language assessment.
So, in that same spirit of clarity I would just like to sum up the thrust of Ian’s talk with this very simple, but important question that he reminded us we all hear from our students, but are often at a loss to answer entirely adequately: How good is my English? All of us have our ways of dealing (or sometimes dancing around) this question, but the most experienced teachers will probably agree that attempting to satisfy our students’ curiosity about their level of English is pretty much useless if we haven’t set out clear learning objectives at the beginning of their learning journey. And this very simple and time-honored step in the assessment process is still at the heart of Pearson’s innovations in how we measure progress.
For those attending my talk tomorrow I hope to be able to show how having clear learning objectives not only helps to serve as a useful starting point for a discussion on progress with your students, but how these objectives can also form the unit of measurement for a scale, like Pearson’s Global Scale of English, which provides learners and teachers with a much more granular view of progress and data which can be acted upon for future learning than other scales such as the CEFR.
Finally we’ll have a look at how powerful this process can be for learners, teachers and institutions when these clear objectives and tools for measurement are coupled with a powerful online fully adaptive testing tool like Pearson’s Progress. Obvjiously that’s a lot to cover in my half-hour session, but I am looking forward to the challenge. I’m also looking forward to seeing some familiar and well respected faces there and hearing what they have to say. Hope to see you there!