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Universidad Nacional Aut´onoma de M´exico

Centro de Ense˜nanza de Lenguas Extranjeras

Curso de Formaci´on de Profesores en Lenguas - Culturas

Sistema Abierto

Tutor: Mtro. Joaqu´ın Meza Coria Estudiante-Profesor: Mar´ıa Guadalupe Fern´andez V´azquez

Definition of Concepts about ”Testing for Language Teachers (CUP)”

Huges, Arthur, 1989

August 29, 2010


Testing as a way to measure the results of student performance is generally concerned with enumeration, that is, turning the performance into numbers. According to the reading, the challenge is to create tests which can actually be practical, valid and reliable and which effects on the learnig process would be of any use for both the teacher and the student.

The author states that tests are used to get information and that we classify tests according to the kinds of information we are looking for. Next I will mention the four types discussed in the reading.

Proficiency Tests. These tests are disagned to measure the ability in a language inde- pendently of the “training” the speaker my have had in that language There are two kinds:

“Specific” test.

It is based on a specification of what candidates have to be able to do

in order to be considered proficient,meaning by proficient the possesion of succicient com- mand of the language for a particular purpose.(i.e. Measure the ability to translate for an specific organization such as the United Nations)

General. The concept of proficiency here is more general. The function of these tests is to show if the candidates have reached a certain standard with respect to certain specified abilities. Both have in common that they are not based on courses the candidates may have previously taken.

Achievement Tests. These are directely related to language courses. And measures the achievement of objectives by the students or the courses themselves. There are two kinds:

Final Achievement tests. These are administrated at the end of the course and there are two approaches mentioned by the author:

Syllabus Content Approach. Based directly on a detailed course syllabus or on the books or other materials used. But the disadvantage is that if the syllabus is not well disegned or the books are badly chosen the results may be very misleading.

The alternative approach is one based on the objectives of the course. This will provide more accurate information about individual or group achievement.

Progress Achievement tests. These are intended to measure the progress that that students

are making and the author suggests that they should be related to well defined short-term objectives.

Diagnostic Tests. These are used to identify students strengths ans weaknesses and are intended to ascertain what further teaching is necessary. The disadvantage is that a com-


prehensive diagnostic tests would be vast and the size of a test like that would make it

impractical to administer in a routine fashion constructed for purely diagnostic purposes.

is the reason why not many tests are


Placement Tests.These are intended to provide information that will help to place a sudent at a stage.of a teaching program most appropiate to their abilities.the author says that the most succesful placement tests are those constructed for particular situations.

This article also deals with two approaches to test construction:

Direct testing. It requires the candidate to perform precisely the skill which we meant to measure. The tasks and the texts used should be as authentic as possible. These are eas- ier to carry out when it is intended to measure the productive skills of speaking and writing.

Indirect testing. Measures the abilities which underlie the skills in which we are inter- ested. In here we learn something of what the candidate can actually do in the language.

Finally two methods of scoring are mentioned:

Objective testing. In here no judgement is required from the scorer.

Subjective testing. If judgement is called then the scoring is subjective.


In my opinion tests are tools that could be used to get an idea of what has been achieved, but not the only source of information about the learning process because it would be unfair to classify a student or a group guided by some arbitrary standard.