English As A Foreign Language Essays

English As A Foreign Language Essays

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It is no secret that much of the educational world has spent quite some time now wading blindly through the drudgery of preparing students for the near universally implemented high-stakes standardized test. In the United States, the English Language Arts content area has been targeted by the high-stakes tests to much greater extremes than most. English is now the world’s de facto lingua franca, having infiltrated global trade and academia to an almost unbelievable degree. As such, high level English language skills are necessities for success in an increasingly globalized world, both for students in the United States and students from non-English speaking countries. In many countries, the study of English as a foreign language is an increasingly more and more important field whose assessment practices are being looked at with great scrutiny. Standardized tests were once the norm in assessing students’ English foreign language skills, but many school systems around the world are slowly coming to move away from these high-stakes tests in favor of new assessment strategies. An analysis of current trends in English as a foreign language assessment reveals that, despite the United States’ reluctance to do so, putting assessment back into the hands of the teachers may be beneficial for the students after all.
Hong Kong and mainland China are often seen as the forefront of English foreign language (EFL) instruction, as together the two separate education systems have a lot invested in EFL assessment. For many years, both mainland China and Hong Kong used high-stakes standardized tests to place students in secondary and tertiary level schools. However, in the 2000s both systems decided that assessments based solely on testing was “no lon...


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...d many people are skeptical of placing too much of the assessment responsibility back into teacher hands. The roles of bias, teacher motivation and other personal issues must not be ignored. Such a large-scale paradigm shift takes time and may require EFL educators to spend many years tweaking a new system and see some students suffer in the transition process. With that in mind, many education officials in Asia and the Middle-East are looking more and more at formative assessments. Alternatives to high-stakes testing are appealing as confidence in them wanes. Even in Hong Kong, the SBA system has been in effect for less than a decade, but the positive response cannot be ignored. Formative, school and teacher driven assessments, which encourage genuine and true language learning, are to be here to stay and most EFL educators agree that this is a change for the better.

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