Second Language Curriculum Development

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  Evaluation / Assessment of language learning

 Language proficiency and language performance


  Programs evaluation

  Curriculum evaluation (Richards, 2001)

 Focuses of evaluation

 Purposes of evaluation

 Issues in program evaluation

 Procedures used in conducting evaluations


Evaluation of language learning

  Evaluation and assessment:

 Evaluation: the process of systematic analysis and judgement of the success (or not) of a teaching programme or a syllabus. Teacher judgements based on data are also involved. Assessment data is frequently included in the process of evaluation.

 Assessment: processes involved in determination of student/learner progress or achievement, usually against predetermined objectives, standards, or outcomes. These processes often require that teachers make judgements on the basis of available data.


Language proficiency and performance

  Competence, performance, and progress





  Issues in measurement of accuracy, fluency, complexity and adequacy


Language proficiency and performance

  Competence: is concerned with the leaner’s knowledge and understanding of the various facets of the language.

  Performance: is concerned with how well the learner can use this knowledge to do things with the language (i.e., perform tasks).

  Progress: is concerned with changes over time in either/both of the above.


Language proficiency and performance


 “the degree of deviancy from a particular norm … usually characterised as errors” (Housen & Kuiken, 2009, p. 463).

 Accuracy alone is not a direct indicator of language development

 Questions: Should they reflect prescriptive standards (and thus ‘native-speaker’ norms) or non-standard and even non-native usages acceptable in some contexts/communities?


Language proficiency and performance


 Broad definitions of L2 fluency focus on general command of the spoken language, e.g.,

  “smooth and rapid production of utterances, without undue hesitations and pauses, that results from constant use and repetitive

practice” (Gatbonton & Segalowits, 2005, p. 326).

 In a communicative language teaching perspective

  It generally refers to effectiveness of language production given the limits of learner proficiency (Chambers, 1998).


Language proficiency and performance

  Fluency – cont’d

 A range of variables open to measurement:

  Speech or speaking rate

  Amount of speech

  Articulation rate

  Phonation / time ratio

  Mean length of runs

  Pauses or hesitation phenomena

 Some other measures

  Number of dysfluencies per minute

  Pace, the number of stressed words per minute

  Prosodic features of speech such as pitch in listeners’ perceptions of fluency.

  Self-initiated repairs


Language proficiency and performance


 An ambiguous, complex and difficult to understand dimension of L2 proficiency and performance.

 Interpreted in two ways:

  Cognitive complexity

  Linguistic complexity

 Complexity has multiple meanings as applied to different aspects of language and communication, e.g., lexical, interactional, propositional, and various types of

grammatical complexity.



Language proficiency and performance


 As a performance descriptor, adequacy represents the degree to which a learner’s performance is more or less successful in achieving communicative goals.

 Adequacy can be measured in several ways (Pallotti, 2009):

  In closed tasks with correct/incorrect outcomes, it can be rated straightforwardly as the ratio of correct items achieved.

  In open tasks with no predefined correct answer, adequacy can be judged by means of qualitative ratings using predefined descriptors such as ‘can do’




Language proficiency and performance

  Issues in measurement of accuracy, fluency, complexity and adequacy

 Task variables: e.g., rehearsal, strategic planning and within-task planning.

 Learner variables: e.g., current proficiency, attitudes and task orientation.

 Contextual variables: the relationship between the constructs is dynamic and cannot be applied as an absolute across all learning contexts.

(Larsen-Freeman, 2009)



  Focuses on competence and / or performance

 Forms of assessment


 Quality and appropriateness of testing instruments

 Authentic assessment



  Forms of assessment

 Formative assessment: from “to form”, i.e., shape the learning process; assessment which is aimed at improving competence. Often carried out as continuous evaluation.

 Summative assessment: establishes the “sum” of what has been learned; usually carried out at the end of a defined learning period, providing final grades etc.. Sometimes connected to high-stakes tests, such as school-leaving exams.

 Continuous assessment: ongoing evaluation,


such as periodical quizzes or tests for which


learners revise the subject matter of a given


series of lessons. A final grade such as a


semester grade may be made up of different


small tests.



  Forms – cont’d

 Self-assessment: learners evaluate their own performance or products of work; often a set of criteria is used to increase objectivity.

Usually connected to individual-referenced assessment.

 Other-assessment: assessment carried out by teachers or examiners.

 Portfolio approaches: The learner gathers a collection of assignments and products done over a longer period into a file; this portfolio

provides the basis for evaluation.




  Forms – cont’d

 Norm-referenced: performance measured against a norm such as the average result of the class or the Year, gives broad indication of relative standing (classroom, school, regional, national norm).

 Criterion-referenced: relates selected and calibrated criteria, relative to certain instructional objectives (e.g., the can-do descriptors of the QLD LOTE Syllabus).

 Individual-referenced: establishes how well the learner is performing relative to his or her own

previous performances.





 Testing is one form of assessment, can be formal or informal, and can be learning experiences or tasks completed by learners.

 Elicitation techniques:

  Questions and answers; True/false; Multiple- choice; Gap-filling and completion; Matching; Dictation; Cloze; Transformation; Rewriting; Translation; Essay; Monologue (Ur, 1996)

 An overview of types of test items, design and administration (Ur, 1996, pp. 37-44)



  Testing – cont’d

 Testing is conducted for specific purposes and can provide information about strengths and weaknesses to learners as well as to teachers:





 Formal language testing today often involves the completion of tasks in which language is used for

communicative purposes. (see IELTS for some


sample tests for academic and general training





  Quality and appropriateness of testing instrument

 Reliability: concerns the assessment instrument’s precision with which it measures what it is intended to measure. Would a test administered to the same respondents a second time yield the same results?

  Test factors such as internal consistency, ratings, etc

  Situational factors, such as the manner in which the instructions are presented

  Individual factors (transient and stable factors)




  Quality and appropriateness of testing instrument


 Validity: refers to the question as to whether the assessment instrument actually measures what it intends and purports to measure

  Content validity

  Criterion-related validity

  Construct validity

  Systemic validity (backwash effect or consequential validity)

  Face (perceived validity)



  Authentic assessment

 ‘Authentic’ assessment?

  Student centred; what students can do with their language

  Measuring learners’ ability to use language holistically in real- life situations

  Carried out continuously over a period of time

  Involves learners in controlling their learning

  Information for teacher reflection, planning and evaluation of programs

 Authentic assessment:

  Does not intrude on regular classroom activities


  Reflects the curriculum that is being implemented


  Provides information on strengths and weaknesses of




  Provides multiple indicators of learner progress


  Avoids norm, linguistic and cultural biases



  Authentic assessment – cont’d

 Example authentic assessment procedure

  Checklists of student behaviours or products


  Reading logs


  Video/audio-recordings of student interaction

  Self-evaluation questionnaires

  Work samples

  Teacher observation

  Anecdotal records


Program evaluation

  Assessment of students’ proficiency

  Also the following features of the program need to be considered:

 Needs analysis




 Evaluation & Assessment


Program evaluation

  Needs analysis

 How effective were the needs analysis procedures?

 Did they provide sufficient data to allow for the accurate planning of the program?

 For example, did the data cover both the product and process aspects of the program?

 Was needs analysis on-going and if so how was this effected?


Program evaluation


 Does the content relate to the learners’ needs?

 Does it match the learners’ proficiency?

 Was it validated by the learners? i.e., Did the learners feel that the content was going to help them?

 Were any gaps in content evident?

 How were the gaps filled?


Program evaluation


 Is the methodology in keeping with the learners’ subjective needs?

 How were differences in learning styles catered for?

 Was the methodology in harmony with the program objectives?

 Was the methodology based on valid views of language acquisition?


Program evaluation


 How were the materials related to the course objectives?

 How did the materials enhance the learners’ motivation?

 How authentic were the materials?

 Were the materials acceptable to the students (i.e., validated)?

 Were the materials culturally appropriate?


Program evaluation

  Evaluation and Assessment

 Were assessment procedures consistent with the course objectives?

 Was there provision for both formative and summative assessment?

 How regularly did assessment take place?

 Was formative assessment acted upon?

 Was student self-assessment catered for and encouraged?

 Was there provision for student course evaluation during as well as at the end of the course? How was this used?

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