Assessment of English Language Learners

Assessment of English Language Learners

Assessmentof English Language Learners

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Assessmentof English Language Learners

Introduction

Thesociety has been changing in terms of language minority students,increasing in terms of their number in schools. It has in turn becomecritically essential that the collection of the assessments that aretaken by the ELLs be valid and fair. However, this isn’t an easycase, but it is essential towards improving the educationopportunities for the so called language-minority students. Thetremendous increase in Asian, Hispanic, and other language speakingstudents has led to the institution of instructional programs thatbetter serve these new groups (Colorincolorado.org,n.d.).English Language teachers have the responsibility to decide the besteducational program to place different learners in. To do this, theyneed to conduct assessments and interpret the findings.

Theassessment results have been a major source of information and havehad key impact on the academic career to the English languagelearners (ELL). This is due to the fact that, the assessment outcomescan influence learner’s promotion, classification, as well asgraduation. On the other hand, the outcomes of these assessments arealso used in cases of accountability, and may impact the academicperformance of the learners. Assessments are, therefore, an integralpart of best teaching practices (Gottlieb, 2006). Proper assessmentof English Language Learners helps the teacher to make an informeddecision on the appropriate educational program to place them formaximum learning to take place. This essay explains the purpose ofdoing assessments on English Language Learners before placing them ineducation programs. It also identifies some of the challenges duringsuch assessments and cites solutions for each of the identifiedchallenges.

PurposeAssessment Serves When Placing English Language Learners inAppropriate Educational Programming

Goingthrough chapter IV of Assessment and Placement of English LanguageLearners, the pivotal role of assessments becomes evident in teachingEnglish language learners. To begin with, assessments promote studentlearning by helping the teacher to understand the learning needs ofthe learner. They lead to the identification of the learners’strengths, weakness, disabilities, and any special needs that thelearner may have (Gottlieb, 2006). This information is used by theteacher to improve instruction so as to support learning anddevelopment of the English language. It also helps to design programsthat address the specific needs of the learner as an individualdepending on his/her weakness.

Assessmentsare also used to evaluate a certain program promoting accountabilityand improvement of academic achievement. It is only through priorassessments that teachers can know whether a certain program ishelpful to a certain group of learners with particular weaknesses ornot. Programs that have evidence of improving specific learnerachievements are highly recommended for a similar group. Assessmentsensure that the teaching program is not too complex for the learnerto understand or too cheap to motivate the learner (Gottlieb, 2006).They ensure a balance between the learners’ abilities and thedegree of difficulty, such that learning occurs as per the level ofthe learner.

Assessmentsprovide critical information pertaining to the student such as thestudent’s literacy proficiency levels in English. Such informationis important as it provides baseline knowledge of the student whichis used as the learner progresses to determine the level of learningthat has taken place from a particular program. Assessments are alsoimportant as a monitoring tool for the progress of English languageproficiency and academic achievement. The results determine if thechild is benefiting from a particular program or not. Therefore, theteacher can choose to change the program for the learner to a betterone after doing an assessment or promote him/her to the next level.

Challengesemerging during the assessment of the English language learners

Despitethe enactment and the execution of the assessment process of theEnglish language learners, there are diverse challenges experiencedin the process. Teachers encounter some challenges while assessingEnglish Language Learners. The Language barrier is the leadingdifficulty that English teachers encounter while conductingassessments (Colorincolorado.org,n.d.).As a result, communication with the students becomes a big challenge.English language students come from different linguistic backgroundswith little knowledge and proficiency in English. Therefore, most ofthem learn English as their second language and pronounce wordsdifferently in a way that is hard for the teacher to understand.Besides, some of the English learners may not have knowledge of thecommon English terms leading to challenges in communication.

Dueto differences in language background ELL students, there is always aproblem with communication as different language has differentpronunciation of words. This in turn results in poor communicationduring testing can lead to confusion and provide inaccurate resultsleading to wrong diagnosis of the student’s weaknesses. Teachersstruggle when assessing students with limited proficiency sincestandard tests do not accommodate such learners (Colorincolorado.org,n.d.).In addition scoring constructed responses from students may bedifficult for the teacher. Such responses may be confusing to theteacher, off-topic or difficult to score. This could be because ofthe problem the student has an expression in a secondary language. Asa result, the student may be placed in the wrong educational programthat is not addressing his/her needs.

Solutionto tackle the problem of poor communication, the school should employtrained interpreters to break the language barrier and assist theEnglish language teachers in assessing the students. Both the teacherand the interpreter should administer the assessment together toimprove the accuracy of the results. The interpreters should beproperly trained on proper communication skills and how to deal withstudents as well as how to translate assessments accurately. Theteacher should also pay attention to the non-verbal cues used by thestudent as they provide important information and help inunderstanding the student better. The teachers should also be trainedto identify what the examinee is communicating. Effectivecommunication is one of the aspects that contribute to the successfullearning process. Through devising of an effective communicationchannel, there would an increased success rate with reference to thenumber of learners that goes through the English language learningprocess.

Anotherchallenge faced during the assessment process of the English languageis the lackof adequate resources for assessment.Resources for testing and teaching the diverse group of Englishstudents are limited. The teachers lack strengthening support such asinterpreters when dealing with such diverse learners(Colorincolorado.org,n.d.).Students come from different social backgrounds were differentinstructional methods are used to teach them. These instructionalmethods are not available in all schools making teaching difficult.Other students have various disabilities that make learning difficultand need specialized equipment for them to learn effectively.

Solution:to tackle the problem of inadequate resources, learning should beprioritized in the budget. Households should be encouraged to investin the necessary equipment for learning to take place. Schools shouldalso seek additional funds from donors and well-wishers to assist inthe purchase of these resources especially for the disabled Englishlearners. Availability of adequate funds can lead to the procurementof the expensive equipment used for testing. Such equipment includescomputers and stationery which make testing easier. Computers alsoincrease the degree of accuracy of such tests, helping identifystudents’ weaknesses better and devising programs to assist them.In addition, the inadequacy of resources can greatly hamper theeffectiveness of the assessment process, hence the need to providethe relevant input towards the assessment process. This would help indevising relevant kind of interventions and instructional strategies,which would promote literacy development for the ELLs.

Inconclusion, there has been an increase in the number of Englishlearners. Teachers have the mandate to ensure that they deliver theinstruction in the best way for the learner to benefit maximally.They should therefore conduct the appropriate tests before decidingthe learning program to enroll the learner in. The assessmentprovides the necessary information on weaknesses and strengths whichhelps in determining the best instructional method and program todeliver information. Assessment of learners, therefore, promotesinformed decision making by the teacher on the most appropriateprogram for the student to benefit from, enhancing learning. However,the teacher should be proactive rather than reactive by anticipatingchallenges while conducting assessments. He/she should then devisestrategies on how to handle these challenges prior to commencing theassessment so as to ensure the smooth flow of the testing process andincrease the authenticity of the test results.

References

Colorincolorado.org.,Assessmentfor English Language Learners | Colorín Colorado.Retrieved 24 September 2015, fromhttp://www.colorincolorado.org/school-support/assessment-english-language-learners

Gottlieb,M. (2006). AssessingEnglish language learners: bridges from language proficiency toacademic achievement.Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin Press.