English Teacher Article Do exams have a negative impact on learning?

| | 7 Comments

Critics of language exams often say that they force students to learn an artificial form of standard English that is often at odds with the language used by many native speakers. Is this necessarily a bad thing?

If the purpose of international language exams is to ensure that a student has reached a sufficent level to communicate successfully, then the exam has served its purpose and in a market increasingly dominated by students driven to get qualifications to enable them to get better jobs or access education, this seems perfectly acceptable.

It also doesn't seem appropriate to expect exams to be the cutting edge of linguistic thought- it is their job to test what is commonly accepted today and not what might be the case tomorrow.

Categories: Tests and Exams

Tags: ,

7 Comments

Dear *Tdol*,

Your thoughts on language examinations are very interesting and provide a lot of aspects to be discussed.
I very much agree with you - a language examination should aim at assessing how well a person can communicate.
This means the exam has to focus on real life situations rather than on theoratical linguistic knowledge. There are more people worldwide who speak English as a second (not foreign) language than their are native speakers of English.

So, English is not just an important language - it's the international means of communication. There is one English language test that evaluates a person's communication skills - the TOECI test. I think this test will become the standard for international businesses, schools and other organizations.
One of the major advantages of the TOEIC test is that you can't fail it. That removes the psychological pressure you under when taking conventional examinations.
What do you think?

Torsten, your comments are very welcome and very insightful. Have you thought about taking part in our forums here at usingenglish.com? You would be an interesting addition and could contribute a lot! ;-)

Many of the critics of exams focus on a rather narrow view of native speaker use, which is not the goal of many learners. There is a lot of competition for which exam will dominate, if any emerges as the single front runner.

A test that can'y be failed, just scored, makes perfect sense to me. ;-)

PS- Torsten, I wasn't sure if your site was in our links database, so I've added it. ;-)

http://www.usingenglish.com/links/Exercises_and_Online_Tests/

Dear TDOL (what is your real name by the way?),

Many thanks for adding our site to your base - we'll visit your site on a regular basis now as it is very resourceful and user friendly.

Dear TDOL (what is your real name by the way?),

Many thanks for adding our site to your base - we'll visit your site on a regular basis now as it is very resourceful and user friendly.

PS: Yes, your forums provide a very good platform for people to share experiences and get new impulses and I'll take part in them.

Hi, my real name's Richard. Nice to meet you. ;-)

Leave a comment