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Can you define these terms? Check in your TKT Glossary


TKT Practice task
For questions 1 – 6 match the statements with the type of mistakes listed

Types of mistakes
A. slip
B. interference
C. developmental error

a. All beginners confuse the tenses in English
b. The learner was extremely tired. This made her forget lots
of grammar
c. The learner was able to correct his own mistake
d. The learner’s pronunciation was full of sounds from his own
e. Nearly all the learners, of whatever mother tongue, made
mistakes with the word order in English present simple
question forms
f. He was very angry so he kept making mistakes
g. The learner kept using vocabulary based on her own

Mistakes show problems either with accuracy (using the correct form of the
language) or with communication (sharing information clearly). Learners can
make oral or written mistakes.
Oral mistakes: accuracy, (grammar, pronunciation, vocabulary), or degree of
formality of the language they use.
Written mistakes: grammar, spelling, paragraphing, organisation of
information or punctuation, degrees of formality, etc.

Oral mistakes: Can you identify mistakes in accuracy and mistakes in

appropriacy in the following sentences?

1) She like this picture (talking about present habit)

2) Shut up! (said to a classmate)
3) I wear my suit in the sea
4) Do you know where is the post office?
5) The dog /bi:t/ me. (Talking about a dog attacking someone)
6) What /ˈhæpened/?

Let’s analyse the mistakes in this letter

Dear Janet,

Thanks for your letter. I’m absolutely exited that you are coming to visit
me in Brighton. I hope you can stay for a week for I want to show you the
town. There are a lot of things to do in Brighton. I like shoping. We’ve
got all the big famous shops here and there are also many small shops.
You like classic music I think. I will look after a concert for us to see.

See you soon.

Yours sincerely,


What ways can you think of for correcting learners’ oral and written

1) Time line
2) Finger correction
3) Gestures and facial expressions
4) Phonemic symbols
5) Echo correction (repeating what a student said with a rising
6) Identifying the mistake by focusing learners’ attention to it – Are
you sure???
7) Not correcting at the time the mistake is made. (give feedback
after fluency activity)
8) Peer and self- correction
9) Ignoring mistakes (in fluency activities or when the mistakes are
above the learner’s current level, slips might also be ignored)

1. Teacher correction
2. Peer correction
3. Self-correction
4. Ignoring the mistake

We should choose what is appropriate for the learning purpose, the

learner and the situation (stage of the lesson, aim of the activity)
Some correction techniques are more suitable for certain types of
mistakes . e.g. echo correction can be useful for slips, timelines are
useful for mistakes with tenses, finger correction is useful for
pronunciation or a word missing).

Remember: Mistakes are part of the learning process and are

evidence of learning. You never correct a mistake, you correct a


Giving feedback is giving information to learners about their learning.

Feedback can focus on learners’ language skills, the ideas in their work,
their behaviour, their attitude to learning or their progress. Sometimes
we give feedback to the whole class, at other times we give feedback
to small groups or individual learners. The purposes of feedback are to
motivate learners and to help them understand what their problems
are and how they can improve.


“There is no such thing as the perfect test” (Heaton)

Assessment means judging learners’ performance by collecting information

about it. We assess learners for different reasons, using different kinds of test
types to do so. Assessment tasks are the methods we use for assessing
learners. We can assess learners informally or formally. Informal assessment is
when we observe learners to see how well they are doing something and then
give them comments on their performance. Formal assessment is when we
assess learners through tests or exams and give their work a mark or grade.

Why do we assess our learners?

1. At the beginning of the course we might give them a test to find out
what they know and don’t know. This is called a diagnostic test. The
information from the assessment helps us decide what to teach and which
learners need help in which areas of language.

2. When learners go to a language school, the school may want to know

what level the learners are, so they give them a placement test. We use the
information from a placement test to decide what level of class the learners
should go into.

3. After we have finished teaching a part of a course we may want to find

out how well the learners have learnt it. This is called formative assessment.
If we use a test for this purpose it is called a progress test. We use the
information from formative assessment to decide if we need to continue
teaching this area or not, and to give learners feedback on their strengths and
difficulties in learning in this area.

4. At the end of a term or course, we may assess learners to see how well
they have learnt the contents of the whole course. This is called achievement
or summative testing. Learners usually receive a score or mark from this kind
of testing and sometimes feedback on their performance.

5. Sometimes learners take tests to see how good they are at a language.
This kind of test is called a proficiency test. The contents of the test are not
based on a course or syllabus that the learner has followed.

6. Some teachers prefer not to assess their learners’ progress in a term

through tests but through pieces of work given throughout the term. They
might set a composition in week 2, for instance, a presentation in week 4,
etc, and then base the learner’s final mark on the average mark of the pieces
of work. Some teachers think that continuous assessment gives a truer
picture of how well the learner has learnt and is less threatening and more
formative than an end-of-course exam. In young learners classes this is called
classroom-based assessment.

7. Another way of assessing learners’ work throughout the term is through
a portfolio. This is a collection of learners’ work done during the course,
which the learner puts together and presents to the teacher.

Learners can also assess themselves (self-assessment) or one another (peer

assessment). They usually do this informally with checklists to guide them.
The reason for using both of these kinds of assessment is to help learners to
understand their language use and performance better and so become more

There are many different assessment tasks, e.g. gap-fill, multiple choice
questions, true/false questions, ordering, correcting mistakes, taking part in
interviews, conversations or role-plays, writing letters or compositions,
dictation. There are some important differences between these tasks:
 Some tasks are like tasks we use outside the classroom to
communicate. These tasks test communication skills
 Some tasks (e.g. gap-fill) test the accuracy of language use. We do not
use them to communicate, and they do not test communication skills.
 Some tasks such as gap-fill or choosing between pairs of sounds, just
test one thing, e.g. learner’s knowledge of the past tense, or their
ability to distinguish between sounds
 Some tasks, such as compositions or conversations, test many things
together. A composition, for example, tests spelling, handwriting,
punctuation, grammar, vocabulary, organisation of ideas and fluency. A
conversation can test pronunciation, appropriacy, accuracy, fluency
and interaction.
 Some kinds of assessment tasks are very easy to mark because they are
either right or wrong (multiple choice, true/false) – these are called
objective tests.
 Marking other types of tasks (writing tasks, role-plays, interviews)
involves judging many things together. The mark we give learners
depends on our judgement. These tasks are called subjective tests.
 Another kind of assessment method is a portfolio. This is a collection of
learners’ work which the learner created him/herself or with the
teacher, during a course. It often contains comments on the work
written by the teacher, the learner or his classmates. Portfolios can be
used for formal or informal assessment.