You are on page 1of 89

MASARYK UNIVERSITY BRNO

FACULTY OF EDUCATION Department of English Language and Literature

TESTING VOCABULARY
Diploma Thesis Brno 2009

Author: Bc. Ivana Pavl

Supervisor: Mgr. Nadda Vojtkov

Declaration:
I declare that I have written my diploma thesis myself and used only the sources listed in the enclosed bibliography. I agree with this diploma thesis being deposited in the Library of the Faculty of Education at the Masaryk University and with its being made available for academic purposes. ................................... Ivana Pavl

Acknowledgements
I would like to express my thanks to Mgr. Nadda Vojtkov for her guidance, kind help and her comments on my work.

Content
THEORETICAL PART Introduction...................................................................................................................6 TESTING......................................................................................................................7 1. Basic division of tests...........................................................................................7 2. Reasons for testing...............................................................................................7 3. Principles of tests................................................................................................11 3.1 Reliability....................................................................................................11 3.2 Validity.........................................................................................................12 4. How to write tests...............................................................................................15 5. Types of tests......................................................................................................17 5.1 Multiple choice............................................................................................18 5.2 Cloze test.....................................................................................................19 5.3 Dictation......................................................................................................20 5.4 True/false.....................................................................................................21 5.5 Questions and answers (open questions).....................................................22 5.6 Gap-filling...................................................................................................22 5.7 Transformation............................................................................................22 5.8 Rewriting.....................................................................................................23 5.9 Matching......................................................................................................23 5.10 Error correction.........................................................................................24 5.11 Essay..........................................................................................................24 5.12 Translation.................................................................................................25 5.13 Rearranging...............................................................................................25 5.14 Information transfer...................................................................................25 VOCABULARY.........................................................................................................26 6. Basic aspects of vocabulary...............................................................................26 7. Selection and size of vocabulary........................................................................27 8. Why test vocabulary?.........................................................................................29 9. Vocabulary testing techniques............................................................................30 9.1 Multiple choice............................................................................................31 9.2 Cloze test ....................................................................................................32 9.3 Word formation............................................................................................32 9.4 Matching......................................................................................................32 9.5 Odd one out.................................................................................................33 9.6 Writing sentences.........................................................................................34 9.7 Dictation .....................................................................................................34 9.8 Sentence completion....................................................................................34 9.9 Definitions...................................................................................................34 9.10 Translation.................................................................................................35 9.11 Writing.......................................................................................................35 9.12 Reading......................................................................................................36 9.13 Oral testing................................................................................................36 9.14 Associations...............................................................................................37 9.15 Placing.......................................................................................................37 9.16 Synonyms and antonyms...........................................................................37 4

9.17 Transformation..........................................................................................37 9.18 Substitution................................................................................................38 PRACTICAL PART Introduction.................................................................................................................39 10. Description of the tested groups.......................................................................41 11. Criteria of measuring the effectiveness............................................................43 12. Informal assessment.........................................................................................43 12.1 Cards - method of translation...................................................................43 12.2 Monolingual dictionary.............................................................................48 12.3 Cards - method of definition......................................................................48 12.4 Self-testing through textbooks...................................................................50 12.5 Testing on the Internet...............................................................................53 13. Formal testing...................................................................................................54 13.1 Definitions.................................................................................................55 13.2 Sentence completion and writing sentences.............................................57 15.3 True/false, matching, odd one out.............................................................59 13.4 Dictation....................................................................................................63 13.5 Multiple choice..........................................................................................65 13.6 Oral testing................................................................................................66 13.7 Cloze test...................................................................................................67 14. Summary of the practical part..........................................................................68 Conclusion..................................................................................................................70 Resume........................................................................................................................71 Bibliography...............................................................................................................73 Appendix.....................................................................................................................75

THEORETICAL PART

Introduction
The main subject of my thesis is testing vocabulary. The thesis is divided into theoretical and practical part. In the theoretical part I will try to summarize various kinds of tests, then I will focus on those methods of testing which would be suitable for testing vocabulary. Besides I will also deal with the basic principles of tests such as validity and reliability and the question of size of vocabulary and if it is important to test it. In the practical part I will use various methods of testing vocabulary in real classes. As I teach at a secondary school, I have a great opportunity to use the methods in practice. There was a significant reason why I have chosen this topic. I have been teaching for about eight years and since the beginning of my teaching career I have been aware of my weakness in teaching and testing vocabulary. It was partly caused by the fact that in my teaching practice I was influenced by my own English teacher at my grammar school. She was a great teacher but concerning teaching vocabulary, she did not pay much attention to it and she paid even less attention to testing vocabulary. The only way she tested us was translation of a list of Czech words into English. We always learned an amount of words and wrote the test but we did not know many of the words after several days. Consequently, I was always better at grammar than at vocabulary because the teacher devoted much more time to it in her lessons. I proceeded exactly in the same way in my teaching practice but I was never satisfied with it and this thesis is a good chance how to change it. In the thesis I want to explore some other ways of testing and my secret wish is to do the testing more interesting or even amusing. I want to stop the routine of CzechEnglish translations and started to be more creative. Moreover, the other goal is to use the vocabulary more in practice or in context and to work with the words more intensively so that the students would remember them better. Many of the techniques described in the theoretical part will be used in my lessons in more or less modified versions. My goal is to find those methods which 6

would be easy to prepare and to correct but also inventive and raising students interests in learning vocabulary. In the thesis I will sometimes use the word teacher which is replaced by the pronoun she as there are more women than men teachers.

TESTING 1. Basic division of tests


Standardised and non-standardised tests Standardised tests are those tests which were prepared by a team of professionals which means that they are highly reliable. Non-standardised tests are those prepared by an individual teacher according to what she wants to cover in class. This means that the tests are not as reliable as standardised tests but still they play an important role in lessons (Berka, Vov 10).

2. Reasons for testing


There are many reasons for testing which authors of different methodological books present and they divide them according to various criteria. The most common reason is that tests show a kind of ability. We need tests to find out the level of some knowledge of something. According to Hughes it is difficult to imagine British and American universities accepting students from overseas without some knowledge of their proficiency in English. The same is true for organisations hiring interpreters or translators. They certainly need dependable measures of language ability (4). We cannot avoid testing almost anywhere, Mcnamara says that language tests play a powerful role in many peoples lives, acting as gateways at important transitional moments in education, in employment, and in moving from one country to another (4). For teachers the reason for testing is clear as they need to find out about their students progress (Hughes 4). Although tests are not very popular among students they 7

need to be taken regularly because teachers must learn if their students understand a language matter or not and in that case, it should be a signal for some revision of those pieces of language which were not understood well . Moreover, at most Czech schools tests have to be done so that students could be marked according to them. To be more specific, students have to be examined several times a semester. The way of examination depends on every school management or even on the teacher of a particular subject. However, the usual way of assessment is done through written tests or oral examinations which are the main criteria for the final marks. Heaton divides teachers reasons for testing into several categories:
Finding out about progress Encouraging students Finding out about learning difficulties Finding out about achievement Placing students Selecting students

Finding out about proficiency (9-17). In the following part the categories of reasons will be described in more detail. Finding out about progress This is done through so called progress tests which look back at what students have achieved ... and are the most important kinds of tests for teachers (Heaton 9). The author also claims that in progress tests students results should be very good, most of them should have about 80% or even 90% of correct answers, otherwise the subject of the test was not mastered and the teachers should find the mistake which may be in the content of the test or in the bad method of teaching . The author adds that the best progress test is one which students do not recognise as a test but see as simply an enjoyable and meaningful activity (Heaton 9). Encouraging students Tests can also be useful in terms of showing students how they improve.

Consequently, students, encouraged by their improvements, have new motivation for future studying. The author highlights that people are always motivated by good results in everything they do not just exams while bad results mostly discourage them (Heaton 10). This claim is very true and valid also for learning English, therefore students with excellent test results like learning English while the weaker students do not. Moreover, test can enable students to experience success. According to BBC:
...in the 1970s students in an intensive EFL program were taught in an unstructured conversation course. They complained that though they had a lot of time to practise communicating, they felt as if they had not learned anything. Not long afterwords a testing system was introduced and helped to give them a sense of satisfaction that they were accomplishing things (Frost, Testing and Assessment).

Finding out about learning difficulties Teachers can learn about students problems with the language through tests. Such tests are called diagnostic tests and are used mainly for finding out students difficulties. The test must be well-prepared so that it could really find out what students do not know. The best time for such a test is at the beginning of a course or a school year (Heaton 11-12). Finding out about achievement For this we use so called achievement tests which are tests covering a large amount of curriculum, for example, they may test whole year or even several years of study. For teachers at elementary or secondary schools these kinds of tests are very difficult to prepare, because of the big amount of curriculum covered through whole year or several years and teachers do not know what to put into the test and what not to as everything seems important to them. Heaton advises to work with other colleagues on that to be more objective (Heaton 13-14). Placing students So called placement tests are used to divide students into groups according to their level of knowledge. The tests must not focus only on one part of English such as present simple but on the knowledge in broad term because we want to have an objective picture of students present level of English . These tests should include

various types such as blank-filling , dictation or multiple choice (Heaton 15). Selecting students Tests for selecting students - we can come across such tests when we look for a job. The main aim of these tests is to find the best candidate for a position which means that we do not measure their performance according to some criteria but we compare the candidates with one another and try to choose best one. Heaton talks about normreferenced testing. That is, we compare the performance of an individual with the other individuals in the group (i.e. the norm) (Heaton 16). In the Czech Republic children sometimes have to to pass an entrance examination when they want to attend a secondary school. The examination is mostly a written test containing the main subject of the discipline which the child wants to study. For example, a child who wants to study a technical school will probably take the entrance exam from mathematics,however, the requirements may vary from school to schools. In connection with these selection tests Heaton talks about so called washback effect, which is quite a familiar term in methodology expressing how testing influences learners, what impact it has on learning and teaching. This means that the test can have either positive or negative effect on our teaching. If the examination is well-prepared then both students and their teacher will profit from it but if the test is bad, it will have a negative effect on them (16-17). Hughes explains that a test can influence people either positively or negatively. Negative washback happens when all the work in the class starts to comfort to the demands of the test. For example, the test we are going to write with our students contains only gap-filling activities, so the teachers practise only similar exercises so that her students were successful but generally it is harmful because students will be good only at one area. So to reach a positive washback, the test should provoke improvement of all students skills and preferably arise students taste for learning (1). Finding out about proficiency Mcnamara says that whereas achievement tests relate to the past in that they measure what language that students have learned as a result of teaching, proficiency

10

tests look to the future situation of language use without necessarily any reference to the previous process of teaching (Mcnamara 7). To be specific, proficiency tests are focused on English used in a concrete area, mostly in an occupation. It implies that these tests must contain tasks which the candidate will use in her/his future job. Heaton gives an example of a clerk taking such a test. The test should concentrate on assessing the ability to write letters, to translate documents and possibly to read and write technical reports in English rather than an ability to write imaginative essays or hold conversations in English (Heaton 17-18). Besides the reasons for testing described above, Ur suggests another three. The first one is similar to the achievement test but the amount of curriculum is smaller, for instance, when the teacher has finished a unit from a textbook then there is time to verify how well her students mastered a particular piece of language. The second reason is to make students study harder and the last reason and very true is to use tests to quieten a noisy class and make them concentrate (Ur 34). This is rather a double sword as this reason may be easily misused by the teacher and she can flood her students by a heap of tests just because the students are too noisy and she does not know how to cope with them. This may produce an impression that tests are only for punishment and may be perceived only negatively.

3. Principles of tests
If you think that taking tests is difficult then you should try writing them )(Frost, Test Writing). Every test should fulfil some criteria to be useful and full-value, the basic ones are validity and reliability. In this chapter I am going to describe these two principles in more detail.

3.1 Reliability This means that a test is reliable when the results do not differ at different times of doing. To be more specific, the result of the test should be more or less the same no matter if students are taking it on Monday morning or Friday afternoon. Moreover, the 11

reliability is also guaranteed by the fair marking of the examiner. This could be a problem when writing, for example, an essay. Such tests are very subjective and it is almost impossible that two or even more people would have exactly the same view on a particular composition. Heaton adds that examiners can be also influenced by comparing essays with one another. For instance, he has just marked an excellent essay and now he is correcting rather an average one,as a result, he can give it worse mark than it really deserves (6). This disunity can be seen also at the school where I teach when students are passing their school-leaving exams. Sometimes teachers cannot agree on a mark because each of them has its own scale of assessment. While one consider studentss performance very good, the other one sees it as an average performance. This problem may be partly solved by the new school-leaving exam because we will have rubrics with descriptors of what should a student know when he or she wants to achieve mark one, mark two etc. However, there can be several opinions on that again. Frost points out that in an oral interview the examiner must not give preferential treatment to any student, he should treat all the same, he must stay objective (Frost, Test Writing). Hughes suggests another causes of unreliability such as unclear instructions, ambiguous questions, items that enable the candidate to guess easily (4). These mistakes do not happen to the international organisations or universities which have long-time tradition of giving examinations all over the world, because they have enough specialists to make the exams reliable. However, when a teacher at a school decides to write a complete test herself, she can create unclear instructions etc. although she wants to do her best. To avoid this I suggest to create several versions of the test and try one in the class unofficially or discuss it with colleagues.

3.2 Validity A test should measure whatever it is supposed to measure and nothing else (Heaton 7). Every test should really test the things which are expected to be tested, for instance, a test on listening about English literature should test only students listening skills based on what they hear and not to test their real knowledge of English literature (Frost, Test Writing). Validity is quite a complicated principle of the test, there are several aspects how 12

to measure it. Content validity Hughes explains that this guarantees that the test will be relevant for a particular group of people containing particular structures:
Just what are the relevant structures will depend, of course upon the purpose of the test. We would not expect an achievement test for intermediate learners to contain just the same set of structures as one for advanced learners. In order to judge whether or not a test has content validity, we need a specification of the skills or structures etc. that it is meant to cover. Such a specification should be made at a very early stage in test construction. ... A comparison of test specification and test content is the basis for judgements as to content validity (Hughes 22).

All the things we set in the specification should be incorporated into the test. In the specification teachers must put the things which are important to test. Hughes points out that teachers sometimes try to avoid testing things which are hard to test in order to simplify their job but writing the specification should prevent it (Hughes 22-23). Criterion-related validity We compare our test with another test which must be independent. There are two kinds of such a criterion-related validity. The first type is concurrent validity. Hughes set an example of a test where one part is an oral interview lasting for ten minutes. In the interview the examiner should examine all the important things which learners have studied. However, we are not sure if it is possible to cover all curriculum in ten minutes and there is a tendency to think that the exam should last about 45 minutes to be objective and to assess the learners knowledge fairly. To find it out, we choose some students and try to examine them in both ways - forty-five minutes and ten minutes exams and then compare our results. If both students performances have similar result, then our ten-minute exam is valid, if the results are very different, then the shorter exam is not valid or objective (Hughes 23). A person who is not a teacher can think that the results must be different, because one cannot judge someones ability in ten minutes but I suppose that the results will be roughly the same. If the examiners or teachers have enough experience they will detect the students abilities quite easily. In common lessons the teacher needs only a

13

few moments to find out, for example, whether her students has prepared for the lesson or not at all. The second type of criterion-related validity is called predictive validity which predicts how a students will perform in future (Hughes 25). A typical example would be some entrance tests to universities. Their task is to discover students who have a potential to manage a particular kind of a study programme. Construct and face validity The second sub-class is construct validity which means that the test examines only the ability which it should examine such as reading ability (Hughes 26). The last sub-type of validity is so called face validity. A test is said to have face validity if it looks as if it measures what it is supposed to measure (Hughes 27). For instance, when a teacher creates a test which is supposed to test past simple tense but half of the questions test present simple tense, then the test is not face valid. Here comes a threat that such a test would not be accepted by the learners, so face validity also means that learners accept the test. 3.3 Practicality, variability, interest Thornbury considers practicality another principle which is important for a good test. He suggests that every test should be easy to mark and evaluate for the teacher (142). In my view, correcting and assessing a test should be as simple as possible, in addition, there should not be much space for several variants of a task because it takes so much time when a teacher has to think about every item individually. Frost suggests two useful things that a good test should have. Firstly, the test must be variable. The more types of exercises it has the longer and better the students will concentrate on it because this prevents from decreasing their attention. Secondly, the teacher should also bear in mind that an interesting test is always better than a boring one, so students definitely appreciate if the test has some interesting articles or sentences. It can also be a bit funny, if the teacher does not lack the sense of humour (Frost, Test Writing).

14

4. How to write tests


Should we create our own test? I depends mainly on the teacher which alternative she prefers. In shops you can buy many books with tests but according to my experience, you often cannot use them straight away, you have to adapt them somehow for your students. They can, for example, contain vocabulary that your students do not know and students would definitely protest. However, these tests are a big source of inspiration and therefore very useful to have in your school. The other possibility is to use tests which are added to nearly every textbook. I teach my student according to Headway textbooks and after every unit I give them a test from the textbook tests all the important thins from the covered unit. However, these tests have to be sometimes slightly modified or even erased as some types of exercises would cause big problems to my students. But on the whole, these tests help me to be objective and they ease my job a lot. The next alternative is to create your own test, Heaton claims that ...the best tests for the classroom are those tests which you write yourself (Heaton 23). In my view, creating our own tests where every sentence and word would be our original job are not realistic because it would take so much time. But if we do not take it literally, then it is true. The teacher can combine several sources and create a prefect test or she can use just some parts and create the rest herself. Writing our own test enables the teacher, for example, to focus on those things with which her students had problems and check if they have understood it. Techniques to create a test Ur suggests to focus on these things when creating a test:
Validity. Check that your items really do test what they are meant to. Clarity. Make sure that instructions for each item are clear. Do-ability. The test should be quote do-able: not too difficult, with no trick questions. Marking. Decide exactly how you will assess each section of the test and how weighting (percentage of the total grade) you will give it. Interest. Try to go for interesting content and tasks, in order to make the test more motivating for the learners. Heterogeneity. The test should be such that lower-level students can feel that they are

15

able to do a substantial part of the test, while the higher-level ones have a chance to show what they know (Ur 42).

These are rather theoretical things which the teacher should think about when creating a test. They all seem logical, but in my view, it is not so easy to find out before you try the test in a real class. No matter how much we try to make our test perfect, we sometimes do not avoid some imperfections. For example, although the teacher can think that her instructions are very clear, students may not understand them very well. Or we may think that the test we have created is very easy, however, most of our students fail it. These things and many others are improving by getting experience in teaching. Heaton presents different attitude to test writing. He points out that it is very difficult to to write a language test because there are not facts like in history or geography. He suggests a practical thing - to prepare a test framework, a kind of a syllabus, where teachers note all the important key elements, moreover, it helps teachers to prevent omitting something important. Heaton explains in several steps how to write a test. According to his strategy I have tried to prepare a test framework covering one unit from Headway Elementary: Grammar: there is/are prepositions of places some/any + countable nouns Vocabulary: things in the house places, food and drink The other step is to give percentages to each item. I decided to devote 60% to grammar and 40% to vocabulary, then I divided them this way. Grammar: there is/are prepositions of places some/any + countable nouns Vocabulary: things in the house places, food and drink 16 25% 20% 15% 20% 20%

Then he recommends to put numbers of items to each point like there is/are - 5 items etc. Last step is to specify the functions we want to examine, for example, giving directions (here I use there is/are and prepositions of places) or describing rooms in the house (concerning things in the house) etc. (Heaton 25-28, Soars 3-4). Here is another way of writing a test. 1) Choose the type of the test you want to make such as progress test or placement test. 2) Write down what you want to put into the test, for example present simple tense etc. 3) Decide about the length, format. 4) Prepare some suitable exercises or texts. 5) Give appropriate weight to the individual parts of the test. 6) Create the test. 7) Focus on the instructions and sample answers. 8) Think about the marking scale. 9) Write a key to the exercises. 10) Write a more detailed key for those tasks where more options are possible. 11) Write the test with your students. 12) Interpret the test results and decide what was good and bad about the test (Frost, test writing).

5. Types of tests
Frost distinguishes between types of tests and types of tasks. He presents four types of tests which are a proficiency test, an achievement test, a diagnostic test and prognostic test. The first two types have already been discussed in the chapter Reasons for testing. Diagnostic tests analyse what the learners are good at and bad at. In compliance with this information, the teacher adapts her teaching strategy (Hughes 13). Prognostic tests discover how a learner will be successful in a course or if he or she is able to attend such a course.(Frost, Test Question Types).

17

There is a review of types of tasks which will be specified later on:


multiple choice cloze test dictation true/false questions and answers gap-filling transformation rewriting matching error correction essay translation rearranging words Information transfer

I am going to describe these techniques in more detail and try to analyse their positive and negative aspects. 5.1 Multiple choice This is a question which consists of a so called stem and four options from which only one is correct. The examinee has to choose the right answer (Ur 38). The form of the multiple choice can also vary, here are three possible forms:
He accused me of ...... lies. a. speaking b. saying c. telling d. talking Everything we wanted was to hand. a. under control b. within reach c. well cared for d. being prepared According to the writer, what did Tom immediately do? a. He ran home.

18

b. He met Bob. c. He began to shout. d. He phoned the police (Multiplechoice).

The biggest advantage of this kind of testing is that we do not have to worry about subjectivity because only one answer should be correct. Secondly, it is very easy and quick for the examiner to correct this test because he or she just puts ticks or crosses. On the other hand, Hughes proves that it does not show the real level of someones abilities because the examiner or the teacher cannot discover the knowledge of grammar, for instance, because we do not know if the examinee can use it in writing or speaking. He explains that in multiple choice the chance for guess the right answer is about 33 percent which means that from 100 questions someone is able to guess about 33. The result is that the teacher cannot be really sure if the student has mastered the curriculum (Hughes 60). The other difficulty with multiple choice is that we have to find three distractors which are items that would distract or confuse the examinee. Therefore, it is hard to create a good multiple choice test. This causes problems with more correct answers or even no correct answer. This all means that it is very difficult and time-demanding to write such a test (Hughes 61). Next disadvantage is that these tests also enable cheating because if a potential cheater looks at someones paper which is near, he or she can easily recognize what the person has answered as there can be seen circles A, B, C, or D (Hughes 62). In my view, it can be prevented by giving several versions of tests and I always do it because with one version the test would not be valid. 5.2 Cloze test Cloze test is test based on a text with gaps which are put there regularly after every seventh, eighth or ninth word. The examinee has to complete the gaps with appropriate words. Mostly more than one option is possible. The first three or more lines of the text are without gaps (Scrivener 261). Example of a cloze test:
Seventy years ago no one ______ ever heard the word robot. It ______ first used by a Czechoslovakian writer, Karel Capek ______ the 1920s. He wrote a play about a scientist ______ invents machines which he ______ robots, from the Czech word

19

robota, meaning slave-like

work (OConnell 193).

The advantage of cloze tests is that it is quite easy to create them. The teacher just needs to find a suitable text and delete words from it. Nevertheless, Hughes does not consider cloze tests much reliable because we do not know what ability (speaking, writing, reading etc.) of the examinee it shows. Moreover, the regular interval of every ninth word does not work very well because some deleted words a are very difficult to determine (Hughes 62-67). This is a kind of cloze test but with initial letters of words that are omitted. Example of a C-Test:
There are usually five men in the crew of a fire engine. One o_____them dri_____ the eng_____. The lea_____ sits bes_____ the dri_____. The ot_____ firemen s_____ inside t_____ cab o_____ the f_____ engine.T_____ leader h_____ usually be_____ in t_____ Fire Ser_____ for ma_____ years... (Hughes 71).

This test is more advantageous for the examinee as the texts are shorter and less difficult. On the other hand, the gaps are so close to one another that the learner can get lost in the text (Hughes 71). 5.3 Dictation The examiner dictates a text and students write it down. Here we examine mainly spelling or pronunciation and also listening. Dictation is an easy way of testing for the teacher because the preparation is minimal (Ur 40). However, it is demanding to assess such tests, Hughes recommends that we should consider the dictation correct as long as there is the right order of words and that misspelled words should be accepted because phonologically it is correct (Hughes 71-72). Another disadvantage is the difficulty of assessment. Generally, teachers themselves determine which errors are considered serious and which are just mild ones. It is advisable to set the scale of assessment before we start to correct. There is also the question of objectivity because every teacher will look the dictations from her own perspective. To prevent this we can use an alternative to dictation which is called paused dictation which is a text with missing words, students fill in the missing words 20

while the teacher dictates (Berka, Vov 36-37). Example:


The police are __________ for a three-day-old baby-girl _________ yesterday from the __________ ward of a London hospital. The baby was removed form her __________ early yesterday morning. Police are anxious to find a __________ seen __________ round the hospital __________ that night ... (Berka, Vov 39).

5.4 True/false According to a text or listening the teacher prepares a set of statements and students have to circle true or false. This type of testing is typically used for testing reading or listening abilities, however, it can have much wider usage. We can test also synonyms, antonyms, grammatical forms etc. Berka, Vov offer several variations of true/false method. In the following example, the student has to find all true answers not just one, the number of correct answers is not given:
Anglick synonyma eskho slovesa dostat jsou: to give S N to receive S N to get S N to become S N (Berka, Vov 19).

Another variation is so called correction form where students has to first decide if the sentence given is correct or not. If not, he or she has to correct it:
Urete, obsahuje-li vta I was ill since last Sunday mluvnickou chybu. Pokud je vta sprvn, oznate ji psmenem S, pokud nen vyznate psmeno N a napit sprvn tvar na k tomu uren dek. een: S N

....... have been ....... (Berka, Vov 19).

In the following example the sentence contains mistakes, testee has to decide which word is not correct:
A friend of me used saying: Better late then never . A B C D E F G H I een: C:mine, E: to say, H: than (Berka, Vov 19).

True/false technique is quite easy and economical to do as well as to correct (Ur 21

38-39). On the other hand if the exercise is based on simple true/false principle, there is a danger that the student will guess the right answer as the percentage of successfulness is 50%. Berka, Vov suggest to give three possible answers to prevent this: t rue, false and not mentioned in the given text (20). 5.5 Questions and answers (open questions) This type of exercise can be based on a text or a listening but it does not have to be based on anything as well. Ur advises not to enable too many options of the answers so as not to make it difficult to correct (Ur 38-39). Example of questions and answers: Answer the following questions. What was the relationship between Jane Eyre and Mrs. Reed? What was Mr. Rochester like? 5.6 Gap-filling This method is often mixed up with cloze test but it is a completely different type. This type can be used for various purposes, it can test, for example, irregular verbs or prepositions (Scrivener 183). The teacher creates some sentences with gaps and the testee has to complete them but we have to avoid more that one possible answers (Ur 38). Example of gap-filling with there is/there are:
______ a little dog in the park; ______ also a big cat. In this house ______ eight little rooms and a big kitchen. ______ two lamps on the wall but ______ only one lamp on that wall (Rosset 8).

5.7 Transformation In this type students are given sentences which they have to put into another form, for example, to put sentences in past simple tense into past perfect tense (Ur 38). They are not difficult either to create or to correct. Example of transformation:

22

Put the following sentences into past simple tense: She likes her job. Jane wears jeans. They clean the windows.

5.8 Rewriting This is similar to transformation but here students have to transform a sentence in the way that it means the same as the first one (Frost). In my view, these sentences are quite troublesome to form, therefore I would use these borrow these exercises from real specialists. Example of rewriting:
The last time I played tennis was ten years ago. I Would you like me to give you a lift? Ill (OConnell 194).

5.9 Matching There are two groups of words mostly in two columns, the student has to make pairs from these words which make sense somehow. They are especially good for practising vocabulary such as adjectives of opposite meaning. Berka and Vov add that matching is especially good for testing definitions, events and relations (28). Ur claims that the items are demanding to create, but often they emerge from the context (Ur 38-40). This is an example of matching exercise focused on idioms:
G I C H E D A A B C D E Vude dobe, doma nejlpe. Sejde z o, sejde z mysli. Kdo se smje naposled, ten se smje nejlpe. Vrna k vrn sed. Kuj elezo, dokud je hav. Lep vrabec v hrsti, ne holub na stee. Dvakrt m, jednou e. Look before you leap. As you make your bed, so you must lie in it. He laughs best who laughs last. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Make hay while the sun shines.

23

F G H I J

An apple a day keeps the doctor away. East, west, home best. Birds of a feather flock together. Out of sight, out of mind. My house, my castle (Berka, Vov 28).

5.10 Error correction Students are given sentences with errors which concern mainly grammar (verb forms, missing verbs or letters etc.). Their task is to find the mistakes and correct them. The only problem with this method is that sometimes there can be more than one way of correction (Frost, Test Question Types). Example of error correction: Where was you yesterday? My aunt dont drive a car. 5.11 Essay The examinee has to write a text on a given topic and mostly in a particular length and form. It tests writing abilities and it is not difficult to prepare, however, it is very demanding and time-consuming to correct such essays because the examiner has to watch many aspects of the language such as spelling, grammar, vocabulary, punctuation etc. (Ur 41). Moreover, there is a danger of subjectivity in correction which I can confirm from my personal experience; last year at all secondary schools students of the fourth grade were to take a sample test from writing which is one of the new schoolleaving exam. Every essay had to be corrected by two teachers and their final results had to be the same, in other words, they had to agree on the result and on the mark. Berka, Vov mention similar event: ... at a conference of language schools in Brno 32 experienced examiners marked one particular essay with marks ranging from 1 to 4... (51). There are three main techniques how to assess essays. The first one is called mechanic method and it arises from mechanical counting of mistakes and setting a mark. The second method is called analytical method in which examiners evaluate wider range of things such as the form and style, vocabulary, grammar, ability to transmit information. The last method is called impressive method, here every essay is read and assessed by two or three examiners. The final result is then made from the

24

average of all three (Berka, Vov 51-53). This could be the solution for assessment of the written part of the new school-leaving exam; to make the average of the two marks. Essays have various forms but the most used forms are formal and informal essays. Students are said to write a formal letter such as an application for a job. In informal writing they write about more personal things such as holiday, friends, hobbies etc. Except subjectivity there are other two aspects which are typical for essays. At first, there is not a prototype of an essay, every essay is original. Secondly, the examinee can freely express his or her feelings, share opinions and ideas. The main priority of an essay is that the student can show his or her ability to write and ability to tell particular pieces of information. 5.12 Translation This is a damned as well as praised method. Students receive sentences or a text in their mother tongue and their task is to translate them into English. Although, the method is easy for the teacher, students hate it because it is very difficult for them. It also prevents students thinking directly in English and they tend to translate things in their minds which is not good. Ur claims that it is a quick way how to find out about studentss knowledge but marking may be quite difficult as there may be tens of variations (40). 5.13 Rearranging Students have to rearrange given words so that the sentence makes sense and is grammatically correct (Scrivener 183). Example: me/tall/as/she/as/is 5.14 Information transfer This is based on a reading of a text. Doff explains that students do not answer any questions, but they write some information about the text and this way they show if they have understood it.

25

Example of information transfer:


Complete this table. Part of tree a) flesh of fruit b) skin of fruit c) d) Use food, drink, flour

(Doff 261-262).

VOCABULARY 6. Basic aspects of vocabulary


If language structures make up the skeleton of language, then it is vocabulary that provides the vital organs and the flesh (Harmer 153). In other words, no matter how brilliantly one masters his/her English grammar, without the knowledge of vocabulary it is useless because words are the basis that create the speech. Scrivener adds that ...A student who says Yesterday. Go Disco. And friends. Dancing. will almost certainly get much of his message over despite completely avoiding grammar - the meaning is conveyed by the vocabulary alone (Scrivener 73). In the past vocabulary was underestimated and it was perceived only as a medium needed for teaching grammar but nowadays vocabulary has become more acknowledged by methodologists (Harmer 153-154). However, I still feel that vocabulary is seen as something less important than grammar and we do not focus on it as much as we should especially at state schools. According to my personal experience, it can be caused by the fact that vocabulary is something that most students can learn more easily than grammar and get good marks, they do not have to understand anything but they have to only learn vocabulary by heart. It raises impression that vocabulary is something less important because it is in fact easy. However, to know a word is a broader term because we need to know several aspects of it. Ur describes the individual aspects in this order: form, grammar, 26

collocation, meaning, word formation. To know the form of a word means to know the pronunciation and spelling of a word (Ur 60). The other aspect is grammar if it is necessary, for example, when teaching irregular verbs we should present the other two forms, as well. Similarly, when teaching a noun with irregular plural form such as woman, we should teach the plural form immediately. Another important thing is teaching collocations, so that students know in what context they can use the word, for instance, verbs do and make can be used with different situations, we can say do the shopping but not make the shopping (Ur 60). The next aspect is meaning which can be divided into several categories. The most used are synonyms (pretty - beautiful), antonyms (young - old) and hyponyms (lion, cat, zebra - animals). More advanced learners will probably deal with word formation in which we create new words by modification of the old ones, there are several ways how to form a new word such as compounding (second-hand), adding a prefix (in/decisive) or a suffix (comfort/able) etc. The last basic thing is to know the word class, we usually distinguish eight word classes:
1. nouns (sun, computer) 2. adjectives (long, happy) 3. pronouns (I, him) 4. numerals (first, two) 5. verbs (take, decide) 6. adverbs (always, never) 7. prepositions (on, by) 8. conjunctions (or, and) (Ur 60-62).

7. Selection and size of vocabulary


There is a problem with teaching vocabulary because there are hardly any rules on which vocabulary to teach. In grammar this is quite obvious as you cannot teach students present perfect before present simple. In vocabulary there is only one rule or tool which says to teach concrete words before abstract ones (Harmer 154). Students beginners are first taught words that they can use immediately as they are let to practise these words in lessons through easy speaking activities, for example, asking about their names, ages, hobbies etc. However, the more words they learn the more difficult it is to remember them or the words are so specific that they are not easy usable (Scrivener 74).

27

In my view, vocabulary of English as a foreign language

reminds me of

vocabulary of a baby learning its mother tongue, it first learns words which it can come across, such as members of family, things at home, some food and drink etc. Most textbooks proceed this way, at least in the first few units the vocabulary is roughly the same in every textbook. However, later on vocabulary differs according to the subject of each unit. So what vocabulary is important for our students? Harmer presents two criteria which are frequency and coverage. The first term means that we teach words according to their frequency of usage. For example, word love is more frequent than a word like innocence. The latter term means that we should prefer teaching words that stand for more things than just one, for example, the word book has broader meaning than notebook (Harmer 154). However, Harmer adds that we cannot follow the principle of frequency so strictly because words that are the most frequent in English are not the most useful automatically. In other words, the rule the more frequent the more helpful, is not valid (154). A native speaker has a vocabulary about 20,000 words whereas a good learner who has studied English for several years knows only around 5,000 words. Thornbury mentions that a student of English would need about 18 years of studying to be able to receive the same amount of vocabulary which a native speaker absorbs only in one year. The author claims that the number of words which every student needs to make themselves understood is 2,000 words, this is called core vocabulary. This amount is used by native speakers in conversation as well as in so called defining vocabulary which occurs in monolingual dictionary (20-21). Another aspect has to be taken into account; passive versus active vocabulary. Active vocabulary are words that students are able to use in speech and which they remember whilst passive vocabulary means vocabulary which students recognize in a text, they understand it but they cannot use it actively. Although this division seems easy, it is not as clear as it looks like because every student perceives in a different way and this results that though we wanted to teach him or her some active vocabulary, he or she may know it only passively and if we just needed to extend their vocabulary with some passive words, they may remember them perfectly. Of course at schools we try to

28

influence what vocabulary our students learn but it is not easy at all. The golden rule is that the more students work with words the better they remember them (Harmer 159160). Thornbury adds that the teacher should somehow transmit the enthusiasm from vocabulary learning into her students and also show them a lot of ways how students can acquire new vocabulary through self-study (Thornbury 22).

8. Why test vocabulary?


Why test anything? Thornbury explains that similarly we could ask about anything. The main reason for testing is that it gives us information about how well our students proceed in their learning of English. It gives a useful feedback to both teachers and students. In addition, when the teacher announces her students that a vocabulary test is coming in a period of time, they will probably start to study the vocabulary harder than before, so it will have a positive effect (129). In general, testing helps to recycle vocabulary as well as to consolidate it. However, vocabulary testing does not have to be always marked, we can prepare a test on vocabulary which will only revise words. The ideal model is to revise vocabulary from the previous lesson at the beginning of another lesson. Thornbury calls it informal testing (130). Tests of vocabulary are often connected with reading skills, here we can test everything together such as passive and active vocabulary, collocations etc. (Heaton 79). Testing vocabulary also occurs in placement tests or diagnostic tests to find out students level of knowledge or in achievement tests at the end of the school year (Thornbury 130). What to test? We can test the basic aspects of words which are written and spoken forms as well as collocations, derivations, meaning, part of speech, relative frequency and certain register style. Testing the written and spoken forms of words is the most frequent type at state schools in the Czech Republic, students are given a set of words which they have to translate, this method is very easy and economical for the teacher. However, it does not really show students knowledge of vocabulary because they just learn many 29

and many words by heart without connection to the real world. To avoid this, we have to decide about the purpose of such a test before giving a test to our students. These purposes have already been mentioned at the beginning of this chapter. According to the purpose we design the test, which is either contextualised or de-contextualised. Contextualised test means that the vocabulary is examined through a text whereas in de-contextualised test there are only words without any text. If the teacher needs to test students knowledge of spelling, he can dictate words without any context. On the other hand, when we test meanings of words, we have to put them into a context. These contextualised tests can be further divided into tests that test active vocabulary or passive vocabulary. These are examples presented by Thornbury. Example of a test for passive vocabulary, where students do not have to invent any words, they just circle the right letter: Choose the best word to complete each sentence:
1) The flight attendant asked the passengers to _____ attention to the safety demonstration. a give a claimed b devote b taken c pay d lend 2) A severe hurricane in the South Pacific has _____ many lives. c killed destroyed (Thornbury 131).

Example of a test for active vocabulary, where students have to invent the right word which fits into each sentence.:
Choose the best word to complete each sentence: 1) The flight attendant asked the passengers to _____ attention to the safety demonstration. 2) A severe hurricane in the South Pacific has _____ many lives (Thornbury 131).

9. Vocabulary testing techniques


We can use a lot of types of techniques when testing vocabulary. In this chapter I am going to show the most used ones.

30

9.1 Multiple choice As I wrote in the chapter Types of tests, this technique is easy to mark but quite difficult to design. We can use it either for testing single words, words in sentences or in texts. Single words can be tested through definitions, for example:
tangle means a) type of dance b) a tropical forest c) a confused mass d) a kind of fruit (Thornbury 132).

Words can be tested in sentences, for example:


There is a good _________ at the Odeon tonight. A) screen B) film C) showing D) acting (Heaton 79).

Here we must be aware of more than one possible answers as in the following example where B and also D are possible:
We went to Jimmys Restaurant last night and had an excellent ________ there. A) plate B) meal C) cook D) dish (Heaton 80).

We have to take into account the fact that students may choose the right answer without knowing the word just by the process of elimination. There is 25% chance that the student guesses the right answer if there are four options, if there are only three options the chance is much bigger, of course (Ur 72). Moreover, in multiple choice students do not use the vocabulary actively, they do not have to produce any items (Thornbury 132). Thornbury for example: 31 presents another way of using multiple choice, which is quite unusual and it is contextualized choice test. Here the options are put directly into a text,

CANCER 22 June-22 July


Someone else is (a plying; b calling; c singing;) the tune and for the moment youre quite happy to go (a along; b around; c away) with what seems like a reasonable idea. Hobbies (a make; b use; c take) up far too much time and children could need support with a new activity. ... (132)

9.2 Cloze test Another way how vocabulary can be tested is cloze test. This type examines active vocabulary because students are not given any options, they just have a text with gaps (Thornbury 133). It is not exactly clear if it belongs to testing vocabulary or rather to testing reading and again there is a problem with more possible answers. To prevent this, we can use C-test where the beginnings of words are already given. 9.3 Word formation Students have to change the form of word so that it fits to a particular sentence. They have to show that they understand the context and that they know various forms of a word (Thornbury 134). This type of exercise regularly occurs in FCE tests. This example is taken from one of such tests:
The next time you go to the supermarket dont forget to buy the (0) BIGGEST bottle of kitchen cleaner you can to (1) ... your work surface. Recent (2) ... research in America has shown that the kitchen is often the most (3) ... of all the rooms in the home. The (4) ... of food, heat and dampness means the kitchen is HYGIENE (5) a breeding ground for bacteria that can cause stomach upsets and vomiting. ... (Word Formation). COMBINE BIG INFECT SCIENCE

9.4 Matching Through matching we normally test the meaning of words, usually words of the opposite meaning. Students do not produce any vocabulary, they only match given

32

words. This type of exercise is easier to design than multiple choice but Ur stresses that the last pair of words, if the student has matched the pairs correctly, can be matched without any knowledge because they are left. This can be prevented by giving more options in one column than in the other one (72). There are also other possibilities than just matching words of opposite meaning. We can design a test where words and pictures are being matched, for example fruit or means of transport etc. Another modification can be putting words into appropriate category, for instance, fruit and vegetables:
Put these words into the correct column: apple, grape, carrot, banana, cauliflower, spinach, strawberry, potato, cherry, melon Fruit Vegetables

Or students can match the right beginnings and endings of sentences according to their meaning:
Which beginning goes with which ending? 1 He planted 2 She picked 3 She dug up a the stones and weeds b some beautiful red apples c the seeds in three separate rows (Scrivener 184).

9.5 Odd one out Students have to determine which item does not belong among the others. The amount of items can be various. This kind of exercise is easy to prepare, however, the teacher must know which words her students know so that they could find the odd one. It also test only the meaning of words, but it can be both useful and interesting for the students (Ur 72). Example: Find the odd word: parrot hen eagle cow penguin goose sparrow

33

9.6 Writing sentences Students have to make sentences from given words. For example: healthy, violence, elephant etc. This is a very interesting exercise which is worth trying but teachers must bear in mind that it will not be easy to mark such exercise easily (Ur 72). Moreover, the students must be at least pre-intermediate to be able to create such specific sentences. On the other hand, students will show if they can use a particular word in context. Example: You need to eat more vegetables and less fat to be healthy. 9.7 Dictation Here the teacher dictates words or sentences to students. In my view, it mainly tests spelling but Ur claims that if someone knows how to spell a word he or she probably knows what this word means (Ur 72). 9.8 Sentence completion Students are given incomplete sentences containing words that we need to test. Their task is to complete these sentences so that they make sense. For example:
Finish the following sentences: 1. I feel depressed when... 2. I never have an appetite when... 3. It was a great relief when... (Ur 72-74).

9.9 Definitions The teacher gives her students a list of definitions of words she needs to test (Hughes 150). However, not every word can be easily defined and sometimes there can be more than one possible answer. Moreover, the definitions should be clear so that students understand the definition and can come to the right answer. I would recommend to give the pilot definitions to a teachers colleague to try them first. I think that definitions are good to use because students have to be active and not just translate words. Simple example of a definition: 34

It is an animal which likes bananas. (monkey)

9.10 Translation Learners can be tested through translation quite well and it can test both meaning and form, however, we may have troubles with finding the right equivalent between the two languages (Ur 72). In compliance with my experience, it is not such a radical problem when we test just words, because I always test vocabulary from only one or two lessons, so learners know which words are required. On the other hand, translation of whole sentences sometimes enables several options. As I have indicated above, through translation we can test either single words or whole sentences. In my view, sentence translation is the most difficult type of testing, so I do not use it in my lessons any more, because it always led to discouragement among students as they got bad marks for that. Another possibility is to test collocations or phrases which could be a well-balanced compromise between testing single words and sentences. Here students must show if they can use the words in context which I miss when I test just single words. 9.11 Writing This type of testing is productive, students have to show their word knowledge, so the test is valid but two teachers would not probably come to exactly the same result in scoring which means that such testing is not very reliable. Thornbury suggests to set as accurate demands as possible to increase reliability and to give criteria according to which the teacher will correct the test. Such criteria are lexical density, lexical variety and lexical sophistication. Lexical density is content words which are the opposite of function words, these words carry the meaning, they are nouns, adjectives and verbs. Lexical variety measures how various the text is, usage of different words, structures etc. Lexical sophistication means usage of infrequent vocabulary in writing which are those words that do not belong to the group of 2,000 most used words in English (Thornbury 131-136). I see writing as a specific type of verifying students ability to apply both word 35

knowledge and grammatical structures in context. Here students can use all knowledge they have acquired so far, not just translate words or fill in gaps. 9.12 Reading Through reading we can test passive vocabulary mostly which is also useful for students as they learn to guess meaning of words from context, they will need this ability a lot in their future studies of English. As an example here is a part of a reading test:
An eight-month old hippopotamus named Susan began a journey by lorry and plane yesterday from the National Zoo in Washington to Singapore. Zoo-keeper hope that she will be a companion for a lonely male hippopotamus, reports say. Singapore Zoo has spent a long time looking for a new mate for their hippo, named Congo. Ever since the death of Lucy, his mate, Congo has been sad and lonely, a spokesman said. etc. Now decide if these statements are true or false: _____ 1 Susan was a gift from Washington National Zoo to Singapore Zoo. _____ 2 Congo, a male hippopotamus in Washington Zoo, was sad and _____ lonely because Susan had left for Singapore. 3 Susan was just over one year old when she left the National Zoo _____ in Washington (Heaton 85).

9.13 Oral testing To know a word also means to be able to pronounce it well. Doff suggests short oral tests on various topics such as talking about family, describing my village etc. He explains how to organize this in a larger class: The teachers gives her students several topics which students have to prepare at home. In about a week, the teacher asks different students about one of the topic, the examination lasts not more than one minute. The rest of the class has another job to do such as reading or writing. Teacher should evaluate both content and fluency. Doff has designed this simple table:

36

CONTENT FLUENCY (Doff 267).

1 1

2 2

3 3

4 4

5 5

Number 5 represents the best performance while 1 is the worst. This means that 10 is the highest number. For instance, when the student is able to speak fluently without any difficulty and he/she can express themselves easily, we can give them 5 + 5. When the student mispronounces words and says only a few sentences we should give him/her 3 + 4 (Doff 266-267). This short oral examination could be a compromise for those teachers who want to test their students somehow but at the same time they do not want to lose too much time with it. 9.14 Associations Students have to underline those words which belong to the key word: FURNITURE: house, table, floor, window, curtain, bed, kitchen, chair Vov 46). 9.15 Placing Students underline those words which relate to e.g. movement: think, run, keep, walk, jump, answer (Berka, Vov 47). 9.16 Synonyms and antonyms Students have to write down words of the same meaning: clever _______ (bright) important _______ (significant) Students have to write down words of the opposite meaning: beautiful _______ (ugly) happy _______ (sad) (Berka, Vov 46). 9.17 Transformation Students have to rewrite a sentence but with the same meaning: Bob is very good at football. He plays football ________________ (Berka, Vov 48). (Berka,

37

9.18 Substitution Students have to rewrite the original sentence in the form which is indicated by the given words: He is a clever boy. You ________________ (Berka, Vov 48).

38

PRACTICAL PART

Introduction
In the practical part I concentrated on the use of the testing techniques in practice. The aim of the research was to find out how effective each method was in practice. The research is divided into two main parts which are informal assessment and formal testing. I use the term informal assessment for practising vocabulary for which students do not get marks, it should help students to prepare for formal testing. On the other hand, the term formal assessment is used for those techniques for which students get marks. In the informal assessment I have focused on card technique, which I will describe in the following chapter, the usage of the Internet and I will present several textbooks which are good for practising vocabulary. Formal testing comprises tests for which students receive marks which act the significant role in the final assessment. I have tried to test vocabulary through several alternative ways in contrast with translation which I have used so far in my lessons. I have presented these methods in the theoretical part in more detail. I have done my practical research at the secondary school where I am teaching nowadays. I have chosen four classes where two of them are of pre-intermediate level and the other two are of intermediate level, this enables to compare results and the process itself in two similar classes. However, the level is probably the only feature which the two classes have in common. In other aspects such as discipline, motivation, marks, atmosphere in lessons they differ a lot. The main thing which influences teaching and learning process is different sex. To be more specific, in girls classes there are no problems with discipline, motivation and the learning atmosphere is mostly very good. On the contrary, in boys classes teachers often have to deal with discipline problems, disturbing behaviour and lack of motivation. Therefore, I have chosen both my best classes and the classes which are a bit problematic to compare if the testing vocabulary would have the same effect on them. 39

For simplification I have given the classes letters A, B, C and D where A and B are girls and C and D are boys. I have not applied all the methods in all four groups because not all of them were suitable in every class, it depended on several factors according to which I have decided. The significant factor was the earlier mentioned sex, another features were the age of the students, their motivation etc. The reason is that what works perfectly in one class, can be a total catastrophe in another one. I have described these choices in the research again The effectiveness of the methods has been examined through a kind of feedback from my students as well as my own assessment. After every new activity students were either asked to express their direct feelings or they were given a simple questionnaire.

40

10. Description of the tested groups


Group A Number of students Level Age Sex Detailed description 14 Intermediate 17-18 (3rd grade) Girls Students of this group are highly motivated for learning English as they are going to take the new school-leaving exam which will contain writing, listening, reading and speaking part and they have realized that without studying they do not have much chance to pass. Especially this year they have been improving a lot. There are no problems with the discipline and the atmosphere is mostly very friendly. In this group we are just finishing Headway pre-intermediate and starting Horizons 3.

Group B Number of students Level Age Sex Detailed description 9 Pre-intermediate 17-18 (3rd grade) Girls This group has English as their second foreign language as their first foreign language is German. They have been studying English for three years, however, they enjoy learning English and make quite a big progress in it. The atmosphere is always positive and very relaxed. We are using Headway elementary.

41

Group C Number of students Level Age Sex Detailed description 10 Intermediate 17-18 (3rd grade) Boys In this group I had a lot of problems in the past, especially with discipline and impudent behaviour,moreover, this is quite a weak class when I compare it with the others. However, this year it has got better and we get on quite well with one another but one problem has remained as these students are not able to pay attention for a long time or when they have English at the end of the day. The atmosphere differs from lesson to lesson but generally the teaching conditions are much worse than in groups A and B. The situation with textbooks is the same as in group A.

Group D Number of students Level Age Sex Detailed description 10 Pre-intermediate 15-16 (1st grade) Boys These students have come to our school this school year. There are again problems with discipline and disruptive behaviour. Moreover, there is another problem which I do not come across in my other classes; most of them are not used to be working in pairs or groups. They just pretend to be working when I approach to them but when I leave them they stop working. I have to put a lot of energy into the lessons to make them cooperate and the atmosphere is not much optimal there. We have started Horizons 2 in this class.

42

11. Criteria of measuring the effectiveness


In the test students should show more of their knowledge than just in word translation, for example, knowledge of passive vocabulary, knowledge of synonyms, antonyms, ability to create a sentence of a particular meaning etc. The test should provoke studentss thinking. The test should show their ability of using words in context. The test should be interesting, challenging but not stressful or too demanding. The test should contribute to keeping the vocabulary in students long-term memory. The test should be achievable for the majority of students. The test should not be much demanding to prepare and to correct for the teacher.

12. Informal assessment


cards self - testing on the internet self - testing through textbooks For informal testing I chose group A, B and D. I excluded group C because of the bad working atmosphere in the class. 12.1 Cards - method of translation For home testing Thornbury presents a method with cards - small papers with words students need to learn. It functions as a tool for learning vocabulary (Thornbury 146). Thornbury gives detailed instructions how to use these cards in practice. He suggests that every student should have between 20-50 cards. On one side there should be an English word and on the other side there is the same word but in the learners first language (App. 1). He also advices to mix words from different lexical groups not just one such as weather, vegetables etc.

43

The first thing students do with the cards is that they test themselves; they read each word in English and try to remember or predict what it means in their mother tongue, then they check the meaning by looking at the other side of the card. After that they look at the words translation and try to say the words in English. If they come across a word they do not remember that put it on the top of the pile of cards. From time to time they should shuffle the cards because they could remember the sequences of words as they go one by one. Words should be learned not only one day but for a longer period of time to be remembered well. As the learner has already known some words well he/she gives these words away and make some new ones instead. Teacher should prepare a sample set of cards in advance to show her students what she wants them to do. Students must realize that it is useless to make cards with words that they remember, the cards should be devoted to the words they cannot remember and want to learn. As a feedback we can ask our students how successful they were in learning new words and if they find the method effective. Next alternative, which can be done with theses cards, is to use them for various pair works. For example, students make pairs and look at each others sets of cards, then they teach each other cards they do not know and consequently they test each other (Thornbury 146-147). This is a visual example of the cards described by Thornbury. front back

improve

zlepit se

(147). I decided to apply this technique in three groups A, B and D. As we had just finished a unit from their textbooks it was the perfect time for trying it. To make the process of the activity as smooth as possible I prepared the cards for each students beforehand. Moreover, it also saved a lot of time. I wrote all the words from the unit on my computer with enough space among one another so that they could be easily cut up

44

into individual papers. The result was a heap of small cards with single words written in English on them. The procedure in the lesson was the same in all the three groups. Description of the procedure/lesson: 1. Students were given sheets of papers with new vocabulary. They were asked to cut them up. 2. They wrote the Czech meanings of the words on the other side of the papers, they used their small dictionaries attached to their workbooks. 3. Students repeated the new words after me so that they knew how they were pronounced. 4. Finally they were instructed how to use the cards at home. They were asked to follow these steps which are similar to Thornburys instructions: To go through the cards from the side where they are written in English several times and try to guess and then to remember their Czech translation and say them out loud both in Czech and in English. To go through the cards from the side where they are written in Czech and repeat the same process. Then they try to write them down several times. They put the words they cannot remember or they cannot write correctly on a special pile so that they could train just the problematic words. Group A We followed the instructions 1-4 written above and students really enjoyed doing something new and special with the vocabulary and not just repeat new words after me from their dictionaries. They were given instructions for home study. Next lesson they were divided into pairs and they had to take their problematic vocabulary and examine their schoolmate from it. Next they swap their piles with the problematic vocabulary and again test each other. They really enjoyed testing each other, there was a very positive atmosphere in class. After this procedure they were given a sheet of paper and asked to write answers to several questions. The questionnaire was simple so as not to take much time and it was in Czech so that students could express their opinions well. I was particularly interested in the following things: How long did you study the vocabulary at home? 45

Did you follow my instructions or did you do it differently (if so, how?). Did it go well? What do you think about it? Students answers: Students wrote that they learned thirty minutes on average. Most students learned according to my instructions. Two of the students described that they took a group of cards, lets say five, and went through them again and again till they remembered them. Then they added other cards and the process was repeated. Other two students wrote that they were tested by their parents who showed them the cards one by one. Most of these students enjoyed this activity, they wrote that ...it was a pleasant change... or ...it was not boring and 90% of them thought that this kind of learning and testing vocabulary is better than the old one which comprised just translation of Czech words into English. Group B In group B the process was done in the same way as in group A and it could be seen that they liked it. They were also asked questions at the end. Students answers: The time they devoted to this home study differed a lot, it ranged from five minutes to half an hour. Concerning the learning process itself, most of the students followed my instructions but there was one who learned with her parent who tested her and two students did not repeat the words out loud they just wrote them down. However, all but one wrote that it went quite well and that it was better than learning vocabulary from the list of words they have in their dictionary. Group D Here it did not go as well as in the other two groups because of their bad discipline in the lesson which started with cutting up the papers by which they did a lot of noise and some of them were refusing doing it because they found it useless. However, I tried to repeat the process and told them that next lesson I would ask them 46

how it worked. Next lesson half of them forgot to bring their cards and none but one learned at home. Their explanation was that they did not have time or that they forgot about it. However, I applied the process of pair testing as in groups A and B. Those boys who did not have their cards made pairs with those who had them and tested each other from all the vocabulary written on their cards. This was more successful and they cooperated quite well. To sum up, for me it indicates that they are not prepared to undertake responsibility for their self-study yet because they are too young. All boys but one refused making cards because they preferred learning vocabulary from their textbooks, so I did not want to make them use cards any more. Two weeks later I gave my students another set of cards including words from another unit In group A and B the reactions were mostly very positive. Most of them accepted the cards with pleasure. In group D I decided to apply this method once again but this time I wanted to practise irregular and regular verbs with it because it seemed to me a perfect idea to learn the verbs this way. At first, students were cooperating when they were to cut up the cards but when they were asked to use their dictionaries to write the Czech meanings on the other side, some of them were not doing it because they thought they knew the Czech translation. They did not know all of the verbs, of course which proved later when I tested them by asking the Czech meanings of the verbs in random order. Finally, they were asked to bring the cards next lesson because I wanted them to test each other but half of them did not bring the cards at all and most of the boys said that they would not use the cards anyway because it was a silly thing. This was my last attempt to try to show group D that the cards are helpful, then I gave it up. Translation of words is not the only way how students may learn new vocabulary. Another option is to focus on the meaning of the words by making definitions and the method of cards seemed to be a perfect opportunity to try it out. For this activity it is suitable to use monolingual dictionaries where words are described just by definitions. As the students had not used monolingual dictionaries before I devoted

47

one lesson to it. 12.2 Monolingual dictionary Group A, B Each pair of students was given one monolingual dictionary, they were asked to look in and tell me what is the difference between bilingual and monolingual one. Then they were taught the word classes and their abbreviations, I also presented other basic abbreviations such as sb., sth., etc., BrE, AmE, count and n-count nouns, phr-verb etc. Then students were told to look up a word of their choice and write down its definition. During this activity they found out that every definition is accompanied with an example sentence. After that students read the definition out loud one by one and the others guessed what word it was. After that students were given a list of sentences which were not correct, their task was to look up the word in bold in their dictionary and find what was wrong with it. This exercise was take from one of the dictionaries:
1) He hasnt made his homework. 2) The prime minister did a speech to the journalist. 3) Sally graduated Edinburgh University in the summer. 4) He asked to me my name. 5) He gave us some useful advices (Students Dictionary).

With my help students solved all of them. The aim was to show them how much information these dictionaries comprise, not only definitions but also grammatical things, collocations, prepositions etc. 12.3 Cards - method of definition This technique was applied to the vocabulary of wild and domestic animals.. Each student was given three words - animals, he had to look up the words in the dictionary and write the definition on the a card and write the word on the other side of the card like in this example: it is an animal like a small 48 long horse with ears

DONKEY

When they were finished all the cards were collected and put on a desks with the definition up. Students in pairs walked around the desks and wrote down what the animals which the individual definitions described. Finally, we they checked their guesses by looking at the other side of the cards and counted how many of them they guessed. Students homework was to prepare cards with the definitions they made for all of their schoolmates, so that every student had all the cards with all the animal words and definitions (App. 2). Next lesson they gave the copies to their schoolmates. Then when everybody had a set of cards, we could practise pronunciation. Then they had to divide the cards into these groups: domestic animals, wild animals. When they were finished, they had to find all animals suitable as pets, then find animals which people eat, make two groups of small and large animals. Similarly we worked with wild animals, here students had to divide them into reptiles, mammals, birds and insects. Mammals were then divided into small and large ones etc. The last activity was to prepare a multiple choice for their schoolmates. In groups of three they had to make groups of four words with one odd one. For example: donkey lizard horse crocodile pig deer snake

(deer does not belong there as it is a wild animal while the others are domestic ones) cockroach seagull (cockroach does not belong there as it is an insect while the others are reptiles) scorpion eagle penguin (scorpion does not belong there as it is an insect while the others are birds) Students put the groups of cards on the desks. When everybody was finished, they went around the class, looking at different desks and solving the puzzles. More difficult variation of this could be putting the sides with the definitions up and students would have to first find out what animal it is according to the definition. Conclusion I continued only with groups A and B. Students were told to learn the new

49

words and after that to mix them with the older ones. Through this I wanted my students to freshen up the older words and to prevent forgetting them when the learned the new ones. Generally, students from group A and B were satisfied with using cards a nd they really learned from them when they were preparing for tests. About 90% of students agreed that learning from the cards is better than learning from a list of words arranged alphabetically and that they will use this method in future. To conclude, I am very satisfied how this method works well in practice and that my students are using it voluntarily. On the other hand, I did not expect such a big displeasure in group D. It is probably connected with their disability to concentrate and indiscipline, unfortunately these are the basic assumptions for a good learning atmosphere in class. However, I will definitely use this technique in future because it works and it is fecund for learning vocabulary.

12.4 Self-testing through textbooks Testing may not only happen in class, but students can test themselves at home as well and thereby practise and learn much more than from lessons only. For home-testing there can be used a set of books called English Vocabulary in Use by Stuart Redman, Cambridge University Press which is divided according to levels of difficulty. These books contain two-page units on various topics such as sports, health, clothes etc. One page is devoted to the vocabulary itself, the other page consists several exercises where students can check or test whether they have learned the words well. These books are good for the extension of learners vocabulary and I especially appreciate that the words are in topics which help students to remember the words better. Such book can be used as a teaching material in class, of course, but the organisation of the book is so clear that students can learn from it alone or it can be combined: vocabulary page can be done in class and exercise page at home. Students always welcome when the teacher brings extra materials such these. They enjoy doing units from this series because there are words which catch their attention and they can use them immediately in the exercises on the left page. Example of an exercise taken from unit Around the home 1: 50

You are in the kitchen. Where would you put these things? 1 milk 2 meat that you are going to cook 3 dirty clothes 4 dirty cups and saucers 5 clean cups and saucers 6 biscuits and a packet of spaghetti (Redman, 105).

There is another book from the same series called Test your English Vocabulary in Use by Stuart Redman and Ruth Gairns, Cambridge University Press which consists of tests of the topics presented in English Vocabulary in Use, specifically preintermediate and intermediate level. The authors explain that the book ...is designed to help students assess their vocabulary learning (Redman, 5). The book can be again used at home or in class. Another series of books which is worth mentioning is called Test your Vocabulary by Peter Watcyn-Jones, Longman. The new words are presented immediately in tests, there is no left and right page as in English Vocabulary in Use. However, the test are very various, interesting and students enjoy doing them a lot. The authors joined two things here - testing and learning, because when students do a test, they always come across many new words. This means that through testing they learn new vocabulary. There are several levels of this series and the units are focused not only typical topics such as clothes, jobs or hobbies but the author also plays with words, they use pictures or creates puzzles from words which do not have anything in common, for instance:
Add one letter to each of the following words (in any place) to form a new word. A clue is given to help you. 1 RAN 2 OAR 3 EAR 4 RULE 5 COD rain .......... .......... .......... .......... can spoil a day at the seaside the sound a lion makes a fruit you use it to draw straight lines it is like this in winter (Watcyn-Jones, 36).

I use these three books occasionally in my lessons or students do some of the

51

exercises as their homework, so these are things which function in lessons very well. Students extend their vocabulary by solving puzzles, or completing funny exercise. According to my experience they enjoy this kind of learning vocabulary much more than when they just get a list of words. Another series of books which I would like to mention is called Test it, Fix it by Kenna Bourke, Oxford University Press. The format of these books is unusual but functional. Every unit has got four pages, two pages with exercises on a topic and two pages with theoretical explanations of the vocabulary used in the exercises. The interesting thing is that the exercises precedes the theory. The author recommend this procedure: at first the learner should try the first page of exercise to see how much he or she knows, then he or she goes to the third and fourth page to check the answers and study the theory if he or she does not know anything, then he or she go back to the second page of exercised to consolidate what they have just learned. The lessons concerns usual topics such as illnesses, clothes or weather and they are of two levels. pre-intermediate and intermediate. The exercises are creative and use many testing techniques such as matching, transformation, cloze, multiple choice etc. Example of an exercise taken from unit Actions:
Match a- i to 1- 9. a Cross b Shake c Fold your d Blow your e Bite your f Nod your g Kick a ball with your h Bend your i Point your 1 foot 2 finger at someone 3 nose when you have a cold 4 head to agree 5 arms 6 hands with a friend 7 knees to pick something up 8 nails 9 fingers (Bourke, 18).

The last book which is worth mentioning is called English Vocabulary Organiser by Chris Gough, Heinle ELT with a lot of interesting topics. Every topic is quite deeply analysed not only through the traditional ones such as multiple choice but this book also offers idioms or famous quotes. Example of an exercise taken from unit Age: 52

The following idioms are all about getting old. Complete them using these words: getting dog over wrong

1. You cant teach an old .......... new tricks. 2. Shes the .......... side of 40. 3. Hes .......... the hill. 4. Hes .......... on a bit now (Gough, 9).

12.5 Testing on the Internet This kind of testing is probably the most attractive way how students may learn vocabulary. Nowadays all my students have the access to the Internet at home, so I decided to show them how they could use it for self-study. There are a lot of web pages where people can test vocabulary but I wanted to focus mainly on two things. Firstly I wanted to show my students web pages which would directly help them acquire vocabulary which they have in their textbooks. As we use primarily textbooks by Oxford University Press, it was their web pages which I used. Secondly, I showed my students several web pages where they could extend their vocabulary, learn something new. For this activity I chose groups A and B because they are cooperative and quite willing to learn new things. My aim was not only to give them the list of web pages but also to show them how to orientate on them because most of them are all in English which could discourage students. First part was devoted to the following web pages which are based on the same principle. Oxford University Press web pages: Headway web page: http://www.oup.com/elt/global/products/headway/ Horizons web page: http://www.oup.com/elt/global/products/horizonscee/?cc=gb Solutions web page: http://www.oup.com/elt/global/products/solutions/?version=1 On all three web pages there are two sections where students can test vocabulary, the first is called Vocabulary and there are crosswords and matching exercises. In the

53

second section there are games testing, for example, word stress, collocations etc. At first students must choose the level of textbooks and a unit from which they want to be tested. The units correspond with the units in the textbooks, this means that when they will study vocabulary from e.g. unit six, they click on unit six on the web page and can pre-test themselves at home. During the lesson students were going through these web pages trying the activities one by one. From time to time there was a problem with instructions which they did not understand, but they either helped each other or I explained them what to do. According to their reaction, they enjoyed it and some of them considered it as a good way how to prepare for tests. The next part of the lesson was devoted to extension of vocabulary on various web pages. On the web pages students could test how much vocabulary they knew because it referred to wide range of topics. I concretely gave them these three addresses: ESLgold.com: http://www.eslgold.com/vocabulary/teaching.html The International TESL Journal: http://a4esl.org/a/v.html English on the Internet: http://www.aj.cz/vocab.htm The most popular one among students was the second address ran by the International TESL Journal because they use pictures for testing. Conclusion From students reactions and responses it could be seen that they were interested and some of them even eager to try testing on the Internet. The aim of this was to show them what else they can do for being better at English as well as raise their interest in further study.

13. Formal testing


definitions sentence completion/writing sentences matching

54

true/false odd one out dictation multiple choice cloze test

13.1 Definitions For this test I prepared a list of definitions where each one defined a word from the list of vocabulary they had to study. (It was the first group of words which they were practising through cards). Some words were easily definable whilst some were not at all. However, it does not take as much time as I expected. I tried to choose not just nouns but also other word classes such as verbs, adjectives or adverbs. To be sure that the definitions were understandable and that my students would guess all the definitions the test seemed to be well-prepared. Group A As my students were used to being tested just by translation of single words from Czech into English, they were a bit confused when I distributed them a completely different test. Nevertheless, when they calmed down and started to concentrate on the test, most of them found out that they were able to fill in nearly all of the words. When all the girls finished the test, they were asked to write down a few words about the test, I was particularly interested if it seemed difficult to them and I wanted them to compare it with the standard translation test. There were two opposite reactions, one groups told me that they did not like the test and that they preferred translation because it was easier, the other group thought that the test was interesting and fun. Several students also claimed that they had difficulty with understanding of some definitions. However, the test results did not show that the test would have been be too difficult as the average mark was 1.2. (App. 3) without difficulty, I asked my colleague to try to do each test and because he was able to solve

55

Group B I tried to write the definitions with respect to the pre-intermediate level of their English but still a few students had problems with understanding some definitions. Their reactions to the test were again very various; some students accepted the test with pleasure while some with despair. Their opinions were both positive and negative. The average mark was 1.8 which is lower average than it usual in this class. (App. 4) Group C In this group students underestimated home preparation, it could be seen that most of them did not study for the test which corresponded with the results of the test. The average mark was 3.5. By virtue of this, it was not possible to take their evaluation of the test very seriously but those few people who received 1-3 mark did not object much against it. Group D There were students who could not understand what to do, so I had to explain it individually. In one sentence there was more than one option possible which I had found out only after the test was written: A sport which people do in the mountains could be not only climbing but also skiing, mountaineering, abseiling etc. Most of the students did not like this test and they considered it difficult. The average mark which was 2.6. Conclusion When I compared the tests with one another I did not find any definition which would have remained completely unsolved, this indicated that all of the definitions were understandable, so from my perspective I was successful in preparation of good tests. Concerning results of the tests and marks, there was quite a big contrast among groups but from my point of view the main problem was not in the difficulty but in the preparation for the test. I find this technique of testing vocabulary very fruitful, because students have to think about the meaning of the definitions not just translate words mechanically and

56

here it can also be seen who prepared for the test and who did not because without knowing which words tested, one is not able to pass well. Moreover, for the teacher it is not very demanding to prepare such a test if is able to construct understandable definitions. 13.2 Sentence completion and writing sentences This seemed the most difficult method of testing vocabulary because students have to finish beginnings of sentences or even create their own ones. The sentences have to make sense and should be grammatically correct, so this technique covers more than just vocabulary, students also show their ability to use all the other aspects of the language and need a lot of knowledge. I used these two techniques together because they seemed very similar and it enabled me to compare both techniques with each other. The test had two parts. In the first past students had to complete given sentences where each of them contained a word which students had to study, for example, My leg hurts because... or Yesterday I was furious because... . In the second part students had to create their own sentences on words given such as homeless, forgive or wedding. The sentences created should have explained the words, for example, Homeless people do not have money, they sleep in the park and wear dirty clothes. I decided to apply these two techniques on all four groups because I wanted to know if they were able to make up reasonable sentences. After students were finished with the test they were asked to write what they thought about the form of it again. Group A Students in group A were very annoyed when they first saw the test I created, they thought they were not able to make any sentence but the results were not as bad as they supposed. I decided not to worry much about the grammatical mistakes because this was not the subject tested, however, when I compared the tests I noticed that the mistakes were very similar and repeated again and again. The biggest problem in the first exercise was with the tenses as the beginnings of the sentences were mostly written in past simple but students wrote the endings in present simple, for example, Yesterday I 57

was furious because I forget my purse at home. Very often students also mixed both present and past simple together but as I have already explained, I was rather interested in the meaning than the form, so if the sentence made sense it was accepted. From their opinions it arose that the biggest problem was limited amount of vocabulary that students had. Although they knew the Czech meaning of the given words and they would have been able to invent a meaningful sentence, they did not know the other words needed for the sentence. About 90% of students agreed that the test was too difficult although some of them did not have much difficulty with it. The remaining 10% enjoyed it and considered it interesting. The average mark was 2.0. Group B Here there was the same problem, students did not know additional vocabulary for sentence creation, however, they did not criticise it as group A, they claimed that although the test was not easy, it was interesting and they appreciated that they could use vocabulary in sentences but they said that they had to think about it a lot in comparison with the method of translation. The average mark: 1.3 Group C They received the same test as group A yet the results were worse than in group A as I supposed but still it was not so bad and for several students this was an opportunity to show their hidden potential. However, the most surprising moment came when they were asked to write their opinion at the end of the test. All but one enjoyed the test and they considered it interesting. They also think that is was a good idea to let them create sentences because it would help them to improve their English. My interpretation is that they were enjoying the fact that they invent something new, that it was only in their hands how the sentence would look like or maybe the fact that they are maturing men who need a challenge to provoke themselves for an action. The average mark was 2.6. (App. 5)

58

Group D The test was based on testing regular and irregular verbs. It appeared to be the easiest of the four I created because here there were plenty of possibilities how to finish or create the sentence. Nevertheless, students had many problems with it. The trouble was that they probably did not understand the verbs given, so they left the words or sentences unfinished or they guessed the meaning, unfortunately they were often wrong, for example, I spent a shop. They simply underestimated it. Their opinions were rather short, often expressed with one word - good. The average mark was 3.3. (App. 6) Conclusion If I compare the two exercises I cannot exactly say that the first one or the second one was more difficult because the results varied from student to student but generally if a student mastered the first exercise, he or she did well in the second type as well. Some students were very imaginative and creative and there was another very interesting thing; it did not matter whether that who student was usually the best or just the average one, because a few students who were used to get mark 3 or so, did very well in this test whilst some students who used to get mark 1 did not do so well. This means that these two techniques test more than just memorizing words but they also examine logical thinking, imagination and wit and everybody have a chance for a good and well-deserved mark .There were also several students who had big problems in both exercises because they were not able to create even a simple sentence. I consider these two techniques very effective because they both fulfil criteria important for me, especially, easiness for preparation and it supports studentss thinking as well as active usage of vocabulary. 15.3 True/false, matching, odd one out I decided to put these three exercises into one test because in all three types students do not write anything additional, they just tick, circle or match. Before I started to create the exercises I was afraid that they will be too easy and I supposed that most of students would do very well. However, it appeared to be the most difficult test I had prepared. This test examined the knowledge of verbs and nouns which go together, every 59

verb could be used with three different nouns, for example, feed babies, feed pets, feed starving people. These collocations were taught through a kind of a matching exercise. This exercise was done in all four groups but in group C and D they received a simplified version of it. Students were instructed to learn the both verbs and nouns together and were showed an example how to create learning cards: PLAY THE PIANO CARDS TENNIS True/false In this exercise students had to decide if the given sentences were true or false, for example: You can build a bridge. You can ride a car. T/F T/F

Groups A and B had ten sentences while groups C and D eight. The sentences were all based just on the words they had to study. Those who did not study for the test had big problems because they did not understand the vocabulary in the sentences. Group A In this group the majority of girls did very well. But from their comments after the test it turned out that they sometimes hesitated to circle T or F not because of lack of studying but because they were not sure if the things in the sentences were possible in real life or not. There were two debatable sentences: You can feed an elephant and You can change your leg. The first one was meant to be right because elephant can be fed from my point of view while the second one was meant to be wrong and it seemed absolutely clear to me. The average mark was 1.7. (App. 7) Group B Students did not complain about the difficulty but again they complained about ambiguity of some sentences, they were: You can change your leg and You can catch a supermarket. The average mark was 2.5. 60

Group C The discussion after the test showed that majority of students did not prepare for the test, however, the results were not as bad as they probably should have been, the average mark was 2.0. It is obvious that the fifty-percent chance to guess the right answer played an important role. Group D In this group the situation was the same as in group C, students did not study but the results did not correspond as the average mark was 2.1. (App. 8) Conclusion I am not very satisfied with the results of this type of testing as there are two main traps. The first one is the probability of guessing the right answer and the second one is the danger of ambiguity which could be solved by pre-testing which would meant to give students a draft test before the proper one, but this would necessitate more than one version of each test. This technique looks very easy but in fact it is very demanding and timeconsuming. Matching There were two columns, in the first column there were twelve verbs and in the second column there were 10 nouns. Students had to find pairs, there were two extra verbs because I did not want the test to be too easy. This exercise seems to be difficult because there are many combinations of the verbs and nouns but those students who really studied the vocabulary did not object anything to this exercise whilst the others complained about it a lot. The results of the test differed from my expectations as I did not consider it difficult at all, however, my students did not agree with me at all. Most of them did not like this exercise even those students who got 10 points from ten. However, the main problem was again poor preparation of most of the students from groups C and D. The following review of the average marks prove that. 61

Group A The average mark was 1.8 which I consider a very good result. (App. 7) Group B The average mark was 1.7 which was a great result. Group C The average mark was 3.1. This result corresponds with the fact that most of the students did not study. Group D The average mark was 3.3 which is very bad mainly because the students did not prepare. (App.8) Conclusion: This exercise was slightly difficult for preparation because one must be sure that there is only one possibility how to match the pairs. On the other hand the correction is very fast and it has fulfilled my intention which was to create an exercise which would show how much they studied. Odd one out In this exercise students there were four words on each line, three words were joined by one verb. Students had to circle the one word that did not belong to the group. For example: horse motorbike bike taxi

Taxi does not belong to the group because one can ride a horse, a motorbike, a bike but not a taxi. In my view I created a very difficult exercise. It was important to realize which verbs went with which nouns in the list of vocabulary because without the list it was hard to solve it. I gave the test to my colleague but she did not know all the right answers, because she did not see the list of vocabulary. On the other hand there were several people who were 100% right because they learned the vocabulary at home.

62

Group A The average mark was 2.4. half of the girls considered this exercise the most difficult. (App. 7) Group B The average mark was 1.9. Students did not object anything to this exercise. Group C The average mark was 1.8 which was a nice surprise. Group D The average mark was 3.2. (App. 8) Conclusion This type of exercise appeared practical and economical although some students thought it was very difficult but we have to bear in mind that the worse results students had the more they complained about the difficulty. It definitely provoked students thinking, they had to think about it a lot which I consider very positive. The disadvantage is that it is difficult to apply it to words which they do not have anything in common. 13.4 Dictation This method of testing is usually used for testing spelling mainly. I decided to try two kinds of dictation, the first one was the standard one and the second was so called paused dictation. The texts were taken from students textbooks and were shortened, the length was about 100 words. The texts I chose comprised vocabulary we had already done. In groups A and C I could use the same texts as they had the same textbook. Standard dictation Through the standard dictation I wanted to test spelling as well as students ability to record a text which they listen to. The procedure was the same in all three groups. Firstly I read students the whole dictation, then I read it sentence by sentence or better after smaller bits as they were not able to remember the whole sentence. Every bit was read twice. At the end I read the whole dictation once again. Then students had several minutes to check the dictation themselves. 63

Groups A and C The evaluation of the dictation was very difficult as there were many errors of various kind such as misspelled words, omitted letters, omitted words or even whole sentences missing. Missing words or words that were written in a way that their meaning was not recognizable were taken as serious mistakes. Missing letters in words were taken as small mistakes. If a word was written incorrectly repeatedly, it was considered one mistake. The text chosen was probably too difficult as majority of students did not succeed. Students mistakes repeated from test to test, they had problem especially, with more difficult nouns such as passengers, visibility, flight, countryside, balloon etc. I decided not to assess this test as it was the first English dictation they had ever written. The correction itself took me much time and I had to concentrate a lot so as not to overlook anything. To avoid it I had to read every dictation twice or even more times. (App. 9) Group D About 60% of students succeeded in the dictation, their mistakes were not so crucial as they concerned mostly missing letters. The average mark was 2.6. (App. 10) Paused dictation Students were given a gapped text. Their task was to complete the missing words according to my dictation, there were around 15 gaps in each text. The procedure of the dictation remained the same as in the standard dictation. I tried to erase those words which students should have studied. They were mostly nouns and verbs. From the feedback I received from all three groups it was obvious that the paused dictation was much easier than the standard one as they could focus their attention just on particular parts in the text. This could be seen on the results as well. A missing letter in a word was assessed as a small mistake and they received half a point for it. Moreover, for me it was much easier and faster to correct and to assess.

64

Group A The average mark was 2.7. Group C The average mark was 3.1. (App. 11) Group D The average mark was 2.0. (App. 11) Conclusion Although this method does not say if they know the meaning or if they can use a word in context, it is still very useful in teaching English because to know spelling is very important in English and through the dictation this could be practised easily. From their dictations I could see how uncertain they were when they had to write English words but this can be improved only by training. I consider the paused dictation much more effective in terms of teachers time devoted to the correction. 13.5 Multiple choice This test followed the method of cards/definitions, where students learned various kinds of animals. Generally, the most difficult thing about multiplechoice is to find suitable distractors, but in this case it was quite easy as the words were related to one another, so there were many options for those distractors. For the test I created three different exercises. In the first one students had to decide what a word means in Czech, they had four options, for example: Hedgehog means A krtek B jeek C vb D veverka In the second type of exercise students had to choose a category to which the animals belong to, for example: Ostrich is A a reptile B a mammal C a bird D a sea animal

The last type of exercise was devoted to the right spelling, for this I used pictures of animals, for example: What is the right spelling of this animal? A beer B baer C bear 65

Groups A, B, C In all three groups students did very well, the average mark in groups A and B was 1.5. and in group C the average was even better as it was 1.3. My interpretation is that this vocabulary area is attractive, and easy to remember as the words are only nouns. Moreover, we practised the vocabulary a lot in the previous lessons. Another reason why the results were very good was that they did not have to produce, they just chose from the given options, but still I believe, that all the students deserved the marks they got. (App. 12) When I went through the tests I noticed that the wrong answers repeated sometimes and I determined one item with which students had troubles the most often. They did not know what kind of animal a mole was. This results in the fact that in this kind of testing the teacher can easily discover which items, either vocabulary or grammatical, trouble students, which need to be revised or explained again. From my point of view, the test was prepared quite quickly, and was also quickly corrected but next time I would probably combine this form of test with some other type, for example, with definitions or sentence completion so that students would show if they can use the words in practice. 13.6 Oral testing In oral testing I was inspired by Doffs suggestion for oral testing which I have mentioned in the theoretical part. I especially liked the table he suggested which makes the assessment much easier. He uses two criteria - content and fluency. In the content I wanted to assess the range of vocabulary students used, fluency meant to be fluent in their speech, without long pauses or switching into Czech. I practised the oral testing in group D because they had just learned vocabulary concerning free time activities and hobbies. Their homework was to prepare a 1,5 - 2 minute talk about their free time. They could talk about their hobbies, interests, about sports they do. They could also talk about their parents and brothersor sisters free time. Next lesson they were examined one by one. My role was just to listen to their speech, I tried not to interrupt them but sometimes I had to ask them a question so that 66

they remembered the other part of their speech because some of them were quite nervous. For both parts they received a mark from one to five where one was the best. The overall mark was the average done from both parts. The rubrics I used was very helpful because it was very clear and much more objective than just think about the overall mark and the students received better feedback as I told them both marks before the overall one. I was able to decide about the mark more easily. The average mark was adequate to this group, it was 2.0. (App. 13) Conclusion Concerning the vocabulary, it is a good way how to practise new words, students are directly asked to use such a range of vocabulary in context which is very important and can definitely contribute to keeping the new words in long-term memory. 13.7 Cloze test Most of the words tested referred to environment and pollution. For creating the cloze test I chose a text from the workbook of Horizons, level 3 according to which I teach in groups A and C. The text was about global warming with a lot of vocabulary that I wanted to test. When I was creating the test, first I typed the text and then I highlighted those items that I wanted to test, there were 17 of them. Next I erased the 17 items and replaced them with gaps. I wrote the erased words above the text and numbered them in random order. The reason why I put the words there was that it seemed to me too difficult without them. Moreover, the topic global warming and environment appears to be quite difficult. Groups A, C The test was in fact prepared for these two groups. I had to explain very carefully what to do with it as they had never done such a test. I especially advised them to focus on word classes of the words from which they were choosing as well as to realize which word class is needed in each gap. They wrote their answers on a separate sheet of paper so that I could correct the tests easily and so that the tests could be used again. Group A was very successful as their average mark was 1.8. After the test they 67

agreed that the test was quite easy and they enjoyed the form of it. In group C studentss results were worse, the average mark was 2.5 and their comments on the test corresponded with their marks; those students who did very well considered the test easy while those who had worse mark than 2, thought that the test was difficult, because they did not understand the text. (App. 14) Conclusion Personally, I was very satisfied with the method of cloze test as it was fairly quick for preparation and for correction, moreover, it opened another dimension of testing vocabulary for me as the students had to watch the context, they had to use the words which fitted into the sentences and they had to look for connections.

14. Summary of the practical part


All the methods which I have tried out were definitely useful not only for my students who could use vocabulary in many different situations but also for me because I could see in which areas they had problems and what was needed to be practised more. I especially appreciated the method of writing sentences and sentence completion where I could see who is able to work with words and who has serious problems with it. In future it is necessary to practise this more so that all the students get used to it. In cloze test and definitions students had to use also other vocabulary not only the tested items, this was the thing that caused them troubles. Taking into account the fact that they will definitely have similar exercises in the new school-leaving exam, it is necessary to practise more. My role here is to explain them the strategy how to solve such tests and to explain them they do not have to understand every single word to be able to complete that which exercise correctly. I would place matching, odd one out, true/false and multiple choice methods into the category of less productive methods if I should evaluate the test I have created myself. Here students chose from options, they did not have to produce anything actively but still these tests may show how much students studied as the probability to guess everything correctly is very low. Moreover, this can be prevented by giving more options as I did in the matching exercise. 68

Dictation is a category which somehow stands a bit aside as it tests more spelling and pronunciation than the knowledge of vocabulary itself. However, it does not mean that it is not important, spelling is very important for the learners of English. If I were asked to think out a perfect test with the knowledge about different methods and the experience I have now, the test would probably comprise several various exercises which would test vocabulary from different angles, for instance, it would be the combination of multiple choice, definitions and sentence completion.

69

Conclusion
The main reason why I have chosen this topic was that I wanted to make a change in testing vocabulary but I did not know how. This thesis helped me to free from the stereotype of translation and to learn new ways to testing vocabulary. The theoretical part was focused on the theory of testing and the theory of vocabulary which helped me to form a picture about the number of tests which exist as well as about the criteria of testing. In the theory of vocabulary the breakthrough information for me was the fact that vocabulary should be taught as intensively as grammar. At the end of the theoretical part I paraphrased or cited plenty of ideas how vocabulary could be tested which helped me in the practical part. The practical part was not only focused on formal testing but I also tried to show my students that learning vocabulary could be fun when they were making cards and when they were playing various vocabulary games on the Internet. Moreover, I presented four vocabulary books which I regularly use in my classes and which students enjoy because the vocabulary about everyday things. I tried out all the methods that I wished to try and which allured me and I was satisfied with the results because they worked but what was even better was the fact that majority of my students enjoyed most of the test. My interpretation is that they saw a challenge in those tests and felt satisfaction when they were successful. However, this thesis has contributed to another thing in my teaching career and this is that I have got a completely new view on vocabulary. Before starting writing the thesis I considered vocabulary something minor and I preferred or concentrated mainly on grammar but then I realized that I was wrong and I am happy that I was wrong because English is for both me and my students more fun now and I feel that my students appreciate this change a lot as they feel more successful because generally they have better results in vocabulary than in grammar and I think that this should not be underestimated or considered subordinate because grammar without knowledge of vocabulary is useless.

70

Resume
This diploma thesis deals with options how vocabulary may be tested. The thesis is divided into theoretical and practical part. The theoretical part comprises two big subdivision which are Testing itself and Vocabulary. In the first part I dealt with the question whether testing is important and different reasons for testing. The next chapter explains two basic principles of testing which are reliability and validity. Next part is focused on techniques of testing and their examples. In the second part I concentrated on vocabulary and its basic aspects as well as the question if vocabulary should be tested and I presented techniques suitable for testing vocabulary. In the practical part I tried some of the techniques presented in the theoretical part in real classes. For this purpose I chose four classes which I labelled groups A, B, C and D. After every test both me and my students expressed our opinions on that which technique.

Resum
Tato diplomov prce se zabv testovnm slovn zsoby. Prce je rozdlena na st teoretickou a praktickou. Teoretick st obsahuje dv velk podkapitoly a to jsou Testovn jako takov a Slovn zsoba. V prvn sti se zabvm otzkou zda je testovn dleit a dvody, pro testujeme. V dal kapitole se zabvm zkladnmi principy testovn jako jsou reliabilita a validita. Dle se ji zamuji na samotn druhy test a uvdm pklady, jak takov testy mohou vypadat. V druh sti zamen na slovn zsobu se zabvm zkladnmi aspekty slovn zsoby a otzkou, zdy je dleit slovn zsobu testovat. Teoretickou st uzavr kapitola, kter obsahuje techniky vhodn na testovn slovn zsoby. V praktick sti jsem vyzkouela nkter techniky testovn slovn zsoby v relnm prosted koly. K tomuto elu byly vybrny tyi tdy, kter jsem pro zjednoduen nazvala skupinami A, B, C a D. Po kadm testu nsledovalo zhodnocen jak ze strany student tak ze strany uitele. Hlavnm cle tto prce bylo najt vhodn zpsoby testovn slovn zsoby, kter

71

by nahradily metodu tradinho pekladu slovek z etiny do anglitiny a kter by vce nutily studenty pracovat se slovy a pouvat je v kontextu.

72

Bibliography
Ashton, Sharon, and Thomas Barbara. Pet Practice Test Plus 2. England: Longman, 2006. Berka, Vov. Zklady testovn pro uitele. Brno: Masaryk University, 2005. Bourke, Kenna. Test it. Fix it. Vocabulary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. Doff, Adrian. Teach English. Glasgow: Cambridge University Press, 1988. Fletcher, Mark. Activating Vocabulary through Pictures. England: Brain Friendly Publications, 2001. Gough, Chris. English Vocabulary Organiser. Boston: Heinle ELT, 2005. Harmer, Jeremy. The Practice of English Language Teaching. New York: Longman, 1991. Heaton, J.B. Classroom Teaching. New York: Longman, 1990. Hughes, Arthur. Testing for Language Teachers. Glasgow: Cambridge University Press, 1989. OConnell, Sue. Focus on First Certificate. London: HarperCollins Publishers, 1987. Redman, Stuart. English Vocabulary in Use Elementary, Pre-Intermediate.Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. Rosset, Edward. Fill in the Gaps. Brno: Didaktis, 1998. eetka, Miroslav. Anglicko-esk, esko-anglick slovnk. Olomouc: Fin Publishing, 1997. Scrivener, Jim. Learning Teaching. Oxford: Macmillan, 1998. Soars, Liz and John. Headway Elementary. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998. Students Dictionary. London: HarperCollins Publisher, 2002. Thornbury, Scott. How to Teach Vocabulary. England: Longman, 2002.

73

Ur, Penny. A Course in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991. Watcyn-Jones, Peter. Test Your Vocabulary 1, 2. England: Longman, 2000.

Internet Sources
Multiplechoice.Pearsonlongman.com. 15 Sep 2008. Pearson Education. 25 November 2008 <http://www.pearsonlongman.com/exams/teachers/multichoice.html>. Frost, Richard. Test writing. Teaching English. 20 Sep 2008. British Council/BBC. 20 February 2009 <http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/articles/test-writing>. Frost, Richard. Test Question Types. Teaching English. 9 Sep 2008. British Council/BBC. 10 March 2009 <http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/articles/ test-question-types>. Frost, Richard. Testing and Assessment. Teaching English. 20 Sep 2008. British Council/BBC. 25 February 2009 <http://www.teachingenglish.org.uk/think/ articles/testing-assessment>. Word Formation.Flo-Joe. 20 Sep 2008. Centre Court. 20 February 2009 <http://www.flo-joe.co.uk/fce/students/tests/wfmtst1.htm>.

74

Appendix
Appendix 1 Cards

75

Appendix 2 Cards - definitions

76

Appendix 3 Definitions - test

77

Appendix 4 Definitions - test

78

Appendix 5 Sentence completion, writing sentences

79

Appendix 6 Sentence completion, writing sentences

80

Appendix 7 True/false, matching, odd one out

81

Appendix 8 True/false, matching, odd one out

82

Appendix 9 Dictation

83

Appendix 10 Dictation

84

Appendix 11 Paused dictation

85

Appendix 12 Multiple choice

86

87

Appendix 13 Oral testing

name content fluency overall mark

Pavel 4 4 4

Ji 4 -3 -3

Luk 2 2 2

Martin 1 1 1

name content fluency overall mark

Daniel 1 1 1

Richard -1 1 1

Filip 1 2 -1

Jakub 3 3 3

Michal 2 2 2

88

Appendix 14 Cloze test


Environment - the whole text Many things that people do nowadays release greenhouse gases into the atmosphere, and gases trap energy. The result is global warming and increase in the Earths temperature. It is the biggest ecological problem facing the world at the moment. But there are some small things we can all do that will make a big difference. We still use cars as our main form of transport. We can reduce the amount of gases that we put into the air by walking or by using public transport. We can also recycle our rubbish. Recycled paper saves trees and they absorb carbon dioxide. Recycling other rubbish such as plastic, metal and glass also helps save natural resources. Every time we use electricity we are contributing to global warming. It really helps to switch off the lights, the television, the computer and other electrical items when we have finished using them. Alternative energy such as solar panels and wind generators will also help reduce the effect of global warming. So, think about what you can do and how can make a difference.

Environment 1. think about 2. glass 3. atmosphere 4. rubbish 5. temperature 6. the computer 7. energy 8.recycle 9. the biggest 10. cars 11. switch off 12. global 13. wind generators 14. public transport 15. solar panels 16. recycled 17. increase Many things that people do nowadays release greenhouse gases into the _______________, and gases trap energy. The result is global warming and _____________ in the Earth s_______________. It is _______________ ecological problem facing the world at the moment. But there are some small things we can all do that will make a big difference. We still use _______________as our main form of transport. We can reduce the amount of gases that we put into the air by walking or by using _______________ _______________. We can also _______________our _______________. _____________paper saves trees and they absorb carbon dioxide. Recycling other rubbish such as plastic, metal and ______________ also helps save natural resources. Every time we use electricity we are contributing to _______________ warming. It really helps to _______________ _______________ the lights, the television, _______________and other electrical items when we have finished using them. Alternative _______________such as ____________ _______________ and ________________ _______________ will also help reduce the effect of global warming. So, _______________ _______________ what you can do and how can make a difference.

89