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Testing and assessment of linguistic-communicative competence in schools: thoughts on L1 and L2 Linguistic Education. Monica Barni, Carla Bagna, Sabrina Machetti Università per Stranieri di Siena (I) EALTA Conference, Krakow, 19-21 may 2006. Objectives.
Monica Barni, Carla Bagna, Sabrina Machetti
Università per Stranieri di Siena (I)
EALTA Conference, Krakow, 19-21 may 2006
Work in progress: project in cooperation with the Municipality of Florence.
Starting point: the problem of assessing linguistic and communicative competence in Italian L2 of children and youngsters from families of foreign origin entering the Italian school system,
Broader objective: to induce the teachers to reflect on the topics of assessment within the domain of language education, be it L1 or L2.
there is a lack of knowledge on language testing and assessment
partly due to the fact that the subject is scarcely considered during the training of future language education teachers
or, if it is,
the focus is very much on the psycho-pedagogic domain, paying more attention to methods and techniques than to reflections on language
increasing presence of pupils who are the children of immigrant workers
the arrival of foreign students is having the consequence of leading reflections towards the question of teaching, learning and assessing Italian not only as L2, but also as L1
are in a disadvantaged position: attention is focused only on the lack of adequate competence in Italian.
Surveys of the Ministry of Education (2005) show that
the average percentage of positive results is lower for foreign students than for Italian students
criterion used: pass rate criterion
two different criticisms
- firstly it is not subject to standardised criteria in all Italian schools, but is decided through assessment that vary according to individual classes and individual teachers
- secondly it does not provide us with any explicit information as to the degree of competence achieved by students
are not only restricted to foreign immigrants and their children and to their learning process of Italian L2
international surveys such PISA show us that Italian students’ reading abilities decrease as they progress through the school system
urgent need for the education system to engage in some in-depth reflection on the theme of language education and the continuous development of the four basic skills
The Municipality of Florence
has established a strong policy for the support of pupils from foreign families
has set up five literacy centres within its territory, one in each of the city’s five administrative districts
teachers specifically assist foreign pupils in learning Italian L2
there is a discrepancy between the work carried out by the literacy facilitators and curricular teachers
the sphere in which the lack of communication between the work of the literacy teachers and the school teachers appears to be more evident is in the consideration of linguistic and communicative competences acquired by the pupils in assessment procedures
The Municipality of Florence, in collaboration with the CILS Centre at the Università per Stranieri di Siena, designed a general training programme on language testing and assessment.
In-depth discussion on the questions of assessment in a school context, the need for coordination between assessment of language competences and knowledge of curricular subjects, and the need for good and ‘ethical’ practices during assessment (phase 1).
History was then selected as a sample subject, taking a basic-level (A1 – A2) learner profile for reference.
The ability selected was reading comprehension.
Teachers divided into two groups, according to their teaching range, creating one working group for primary schools (age range 6-11) and one for secondary/middle schools (age range 11-14).
Specifications for reading comprehension were discussed and texts were selected.
Teachers reflected on the importance of the textual dimension in learning and assessment processes, and on the identification and application of criteria for the selection of texts, regarding factors such as readability, density of information, linguistic complexity, discourse structure, length of text, etc.
Common and shared basis for literacy facilitators and teachers, so that they could work together to create instruments and ‘products’ for use in class.
History tests were written and presented to the classes of various schools in the Municipality of Florence as from April 2006, and still under trial.
By the month of June we expect to collect all the tests and perform a detailed analysis of the results.
If the hypotheses are confirmed by the results, this should lead to the approval of models and protocols for the production of assessment tools and criteria for primary and secondary schools, which could then involve a greater number of teachers, schools, curricular subjects and abilities