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Making the most of assessment: designing multi-purpose tasks for young language learners Louise Courtney Warsaw 21st October 2011.

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Presentation on theme: "Making the most of assessment: designing multi-purpose tasks for young language learners Louise Courtney Warsaw 21st October 2011."— Presentation transcript:

1 Making the most of assessment: designing multi-purpose tasks for young language learners
Louise Courtney Warsaw 21st October 2011

2 Presentation Outline Introduction
Presentation of tasks used in transition project Presentation of tasks used in Younger=Better project Discussion

3 Introduction - Assessment
3 Types of Assessment External Classroom SLA research (Shohamy 1994)

4 Introduction - UK Context
Primary Languages Initiative Compulsory for all children aged 7-11 from 2011 (did not happen) Key Stage 2 (age 7-11) Framework for Languages incorporates 5 strands: Literacy Oracy Intercultural Awareness Knowledge About Language Language Learning Strategies

5 The transition study Success of primary languages depends upon effective transition continuity, building on previous learning, managing a mixed in-take Longitudinal case study of 26 children who learnt French in primary school. Pupils from two primary schools feeding in to one secondary school. Focused on the problematic transition period – 12 months from summer term year 6 (aged 10/11) until summer term year 7 (aged 11/12).

6 Research Questions: How does the children’s target language proficiency evolve during the transition from year 6 to year 7 and is there evidence of linguistic progression/attrition? What are the similarities and differences between the primary and secondary foreign language curricula and pedagogic practices and how do they effect the children’s language learning? What effect does the transition from year 6 to year 7 have on the children’s motivation for foreign language study and their confidence in the classroom?

7 Assessment challenges
Variability of pupil experience Reluctance to assess at primary Deter enjoyment of lessons Lack of teacher experience/confidence Little knowledge of young learner attainment in schools Incongruence of standard framework level descriptors and SLA measures of grammatical progression Developmental route/rate errors/accuracy sensitivity to progress

8 Considerations when assessing young learners
Age-appropriacy/cognitive demand Short/fast-paced Need for ‘warm-up’ Interesting/fun/engaging L1 literacy skills Content validity - UK Primary Framework and National Curriculum

9 Guiding principles for assessment
Focus on productive skills Language use Implicit knowledge More varied output Ability to measure individual achievement Assessment of progression over three rounds Emphasis on what the learners were able to produce Measurement of multiple aspects of linguistic progression Ability to analyse data on different levels

10 Evaluation of target language development
Two key areas of focus: Vocabulary development – productive vocabulary Predominantly nouns, few verbs (Cable et al. 2010, Low et al. 1995, Szpotowicz 2009, David 2008) Morpho-syntactic development (grammar) – emergent creativity formulaic chunks verb morphology nouns acquisition sequences for negation and questions (Mitchell & Hooper 1999, Rule & Marsden 2006, Myles et al. 2004) Two further areas of investigation: Interactive/communicative capability Development of L2 literacy

11 Assessment Tasks Oracy-based tasks Paired oral role-play task
Photo description task Negation Task Literacy-based Tasks Reading Aloud Task Reading Comprehension Writing Task

12 Negation Task Designed to elicit a specific linguistic structure
Well-documented path for acquisition of grammatical negation in L1 and L2 Role of chunks – je n’aime pas and je déteste in expressing negation

13 Data Processing and Analysis
Oral tasks – transcribed using CHILDES CLAN program Writing task – entered into CHILDES CLAN program Reading Comprehension – marking criteria – score out of a maximum of 36 points Reading Aloud – transcribed - rating scale 0-3

14 Advantages of using CLAN program
Vocabulary measures – lexical diversity, TTR, word counts Permits analysis of specific grammatical structures Aggregation of files for analysis across modes/groups

15 Younger=Better Project
Document the development of linguistic competence among young classroom learners of French at three different starting ages, and identify similarities and differences Compare the rates of development at different ages after the same amount of classroom exposure Vocabulary Morpho-syntactic (grammar) development

16 Younger=Better Project
73 young learners in two schools, all L1 English Year 1 (5/6 year olds n=27) Year 3 (7/8 year olds n=26) Year 7 (11/12 year olds n=18) No previous instruction in target language Part-time teacher employed by the project 38 hours of instruction over 19 weeks

17 Empirical Design: Testing
Four testing cycles: Pre-instruction tests Mid-instruction tests (after 18 hours of teaching) Post-instruction tests (after 38 hours of teaching) Delayed post-tests (2 months after cessation of teaching)

18 Empirical Design: Testing
Role Play task Story Retelling Task Elicited Imitation

19 Elicited Imitation Task
Used to investigate whether there are age differences for knowledge of grammatical structure Limitations in working memory in young children (Gathercole and Baddeley 1996) and working memory develops through childhood Adult working memory capacity has been determined by Miller (1956) as 7 chunks plus or minus 2, where a chunk is defined as either a stand-alone word or multi-word phrases So we would expect young children’s capacity to be less

20 Elicited Imitation Task
Administered the task with contextual support Stimuli of varying lengths. Up to 9 words. The participants had encountered all of the vocabulary items In this task an utterance read out and then learner asked to repeat the utterance as exactly as possible It is claimed that if the stimulus is the appropriate length the learner can only repeat the utterance if it has been processed and some understanding has occurred Learners also asked comprehension questions in English after each section – focus on meaning rather than form

21 Scoring Different codes used: 0 not produced
1 produced prosodically only 2 produced incorrectly but understandable 3 produced correctly

22 Multiple levels of analysis
Is it also possible to apply task data to national framework measures? National Curriculum Level Descriptors Would my oral tasks provide evidence to assign learners to levels? What kind of rating scheme could you develop?

23 Questions ? Contact details:

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