“Language grows out of life, out of its needs and experiences…” Annie Sullivan
The Debate over Testing is Ongoing in EFL
There is worldwide debate among English trainers and EFL providers whether testing participants on an ongoing basis is effective. As a language learner, you may have strong feelings about whether as an adult you should be tested on your language skills. First, let’s define the types of testing that may occur during language learning and the goals of these tests.
A placement test is the first test you will take when you decide to become a language learner. It indicates your language level compared to a range of speakers learning English. This initial test can be developed from The Common European Framework Reference (CEFR) which is considered the standard of language abilities; drafted by the Council of Europe in 2001 and used around the world. Other tests’ criteria can be based on published language materials or language programs, such as Berlitz. A placement test helps the trainer understand the learner’s ability to speak the language. There is usually some kind of placement test and it can range from a 30-minute chat, a 45-minute timed test in person or online, or something more time-intensive. The goal is to place you in a group or individual training and provide you with materials that are appropriate to your level. This test is to discover how much English you know and understand.
Higher English Qualifications
If you need a higher language qualification there are other tests, such as, The European Language Certificate, Test of English as a Foreign Language, the Cambridge English: First, Preliminary and Advance tests and Cambridge: Preliminary, First, and Advanced, The International English Language Test (IELTS) and Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL). These tests help you establish your language level to get into university or to verify you have the necessary language ability to complete English-based tasks for employment.
The idea of linking tests to learning is as old as education. Testing is a valid method for language learners who need to be assessed to achieve grade levels, certifications or job placement. However, does everyone need or want to be tested on an ongoing basis? Can you as an adult gauge your learning and your progress without general testing?
Learning vs Memorizing
I believe testing should be done on an ongoing basis, but based on your ability to carry out a task, to expand on an answer, or to converse with a business partner. Generalized testing, using multiple choice, or true and false questions give you the chance to guess at the right answer. Typically, general tests are created from a database of commonly used words. You receive a general test over the material the text book offers, which may mean you learned the new words merely for the test, but have no real-world context for the word. Is that proof that you have increased your active vocabulary?
Resistance to testing
Perhaps, instead of general tests try gauging your learning on multiple sources of evidence, for example: