Already a subscriber or advertiser? Enter your login information here

Sunday, 18 February 2018

You are here: Home > Online Articles > Benefits of English Language Testing at the Early Childhood Level

FEATURED ARTICLES

SEARCH

Benefits of English Language Testing at the Early Childhood Level

By Bonnie Billak

01/19/2018

It is common practice for schools to test student proficiency levels in a variety of subject areas at all grade levels. Should assessing the English proficiency level of Early Childhood students be added to this battery of testing? Although schools are sometimes hesitant to test students at this young age, it is not as complicated as one might think, and there are valuable benefits to be gained.

While schools routinely administer lengthy tests to young children to determine their suitability for admission, they are often wary about testing their English language levels, thinking that it is not necessary or feasible due to their young age. In their eyes, it’s just a waste of time and effort. The exact opposite is true.

Testing English language levels provides valuable data that can be used in a variety of ways. For example, teachers will find this information useful when creating lessons, deciding on the type and extent of scaffolding needed for the lessons, and making up the class placement lists for the following year to ensure a good mix of English proficiency levels in each classroom.

In addition, test data allow ESL teachers to quickly identify the students needing ESL services, so that these can be offered immediately, thus avoiding a breach in oversight when students are just left to fend for themselves. This greatly assists in keeping students from falling into a deep state of desperation with regard to learning English.

While a trained ESL teacher can perhaps offer an educated guess as to the proficiency level of a student, having a concrete test score is much more effective. Knowing the English proficiency levels of students also enables the ESL teacher to offer very specific advice to classroom teachers when it comes to strategies for working with each student.

It is of utmost importance that testing of students at the early childhood level be done with an assessment tool appropriate for their age and based on topics appealing to the students—such as questions about school, family, etc.—to grab and hold their attention during the test. The test should be as brief as possible: 15 minutes or less for speaking and listening. The assessment tool should offer the tester the option of immediately ending the test if the student cannot answer several questions in a row, since questions are usually listed in a hierarchical pattern from easiest to hardest, thus students will not feel totally stressed out by not being able to answer questions.

By monitoring the scores, the language growth of the students can be tracked from year to year. This will help both teachers and administrators to assess the effectiveness of the school’s English language program. Teachers will also be able to see the language growth of the students while in their classes through a comparison of student entry and exit scores. This is an excellent way to motivate teachers to use scaffolding techniques in their teaching and/or to seek assistance in learning how to teach second-language learners. Therefore, the testing will have multiple benefits for students, teachers, and administrators, thus making it well worth the time and effort.

Bonnie Billak is an ESL Specialist at the International School Nido de Aguilas in Santiago, Chile. She also does consulting work in the field of ESL teaching, program design, and/or evaluation.




Please fill out the form below if you would like to post a comment on this article:

Nickname (this will appear with your comments)
Email
Comments


Comments

There are currently no comments posted. Please post one via the form above.

MORE FROM FEATURED ARTICLES
Demand for international education is going from strength to strength in many countries of the world ..more
A recent report from the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) based on data collect ..more
TIE’s Brittany Betts talks with Homa Sabet Tavangar, keynote speaker at AAIE’s annual Leadership Con ..more
COLLEGE COUNSELING WITH MARTIN WALSH
GORDON ELDRIDGE: LESSONS IN LEARNING
Are One-to-One Laptop Programs Worth It?
By Gordon Eldridge, TIE Columnist
03-Jan-18
The Benefits of Practice Testing
By Gordon Eldridge, TIE Columnist
17-Nov-17
IN THE SPOTLIGHT
In Memoriam: Dr. Elsa C. Lamb
By Yolanda Murphy-Barrena
02-Feb-18
THE MARSHALL MEMO
Carving Out Time for Teacher Team Collaboration
By Kim Marshall, TIE columnist
14-Feb-18
What's the Role of Schools in Teaching About Sexual Harassment?
By Kim Marshall, TIE columnist
02-Feb-18
THE PRINCIPALS' TRAINING CENTER
The Servant Leader: A PTC Pearl of Wisdom
By Janine Stegall
19-Oct-17