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DIALANG. www.dialang.org Accept its limitations in order to appreciate its beauty …? Kevin Haines, RUG. DIALANG. Some Limitations Feedback is “ general ” or “ vague ” No “ reporting ” function – teacher has limited record of student performance

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Accept its limitations in order to appreciate its beauty…?

Kevin Haines, RUG


  • Some Limitations

  • Feedback is “general” or “vague”

  • No “reporting” function – teacher has limited record of student performance

  • There are problems with certain questions

  • There are technical difficulties at times

  • The database of questions is limited


  • But…

  • Feedback and advice in CEF terms (all levels)

  • There are ways around copying results, although the students are better at it than me!

  • Problems with questions are few and they are consistent and therefore predictable

  • In our last pilot, we had no major technical difficulties (with 7 x 15 students)

  • The questions have been thoroughly validated


  • Recommendation 1:

  • Pre-test training or acclimatization

  • “It was like basically the same as going to McDonalds”.

  • Student B October 2003


  • Recommendation 2

  • Follow-up is needed to make advice “real” and relevant to context

  • In my opinion we have not worked on the results of the DIALANG test.

  • Student A 21 October 2003


  • Recommendation 3

  • Practical exercises are needed to deal with the deficiencies defined in the test

  • I could already imagine what my weaknesses could be, but DIALANG made it visible for me.

  • Student C 21 October 2003


  • Recommendation 4

  • The test should take place within the context of a course rather than preceding it – a systematic lead from DIALANG into the tasks on the course

  • So that you know a little bit about how to relate the DIALANG test with the English course.

  • Student B 21 October 2003


  • Recommendation 5

  • The link made to the Common European Framework should be consolidated (through the European Language Portfolio?)

  • Students do come up with learning objectives, so perhaps that is the real gain.

  • Teacher journal September 2003


  • … is a formative assessment tool

  • … is not a summative assessment tool

  • … is not a stand-alone tool

  • … can be integrated into a reflective language learning process


  • … when you take the test you also know it’s not just a test but it’s also something that can help you over the year or even over the years to improve your English.

  • Student B 21 October 2003

Reflective portfolio benefits
Reflective portfolio: benefits

  • Students are empowered through greater awareness of their own learning: increase in confidence

  • Students are better able to judge the value of their language courses by looking beyond the language classroom and into the wider context: increase in motivation

  • Teachers gain a better understanding of their students as individuals: engagement

  • Teachers can more effectively evaluate the relevance of their materials: reflexivity

Reflective commentary
Reflective commentary

  • Definitions of portfolios emphasize the collection of work which includes a reflective commentary (Arter & Spandel 1992; Forster & Masters 1996; Baume 2001)

  • Klenowski et al 2006: 267

An integrated reflective portfolio
An integrated reflective portfolio

  • Criteria:

  • (i) Train students in a common language through which they can reflect e.g. language descriptors, terminology from personal skills training or sociolinguistics

  • (ii) Be clear about the purpose of the portfolio from the outset

  • (iii) Combine the ‘written’ portfolio with verbal (face-to-face) feedback from teachers - and peers

  • (iv) Make consistent use of assessment scales and descriptors

  • (v) Integrate the portfolio into the wider curriculum (and beyond)

  • (vi) Encourage students to draw on meta-cognitive strategies (goal-setting, assessment, planning)

Some useful e portfolio links
Some useful e-portfolio links

  • Council of Europe Portfolio

  • http://culture2.coe.int/portfolio/

  • The Eaquals-ALTE eELP Guided Pathway

  • http://www.eelp.org/eportfolio/eELP_Guided_Pathway_web_en_GB.pdf

  • The Europass Language Passport

  • http://europass.cedefop.eu.int/

  • Swiss European Language Portfolio for Higher Education

  • http://web.fu-berlin.de/elc/portfolio/

  • And for initial familiarization of teachers with the CEF standards:

  • http://www.ceftrain.net/

  • An interesting colloquium report on use of the ELP by David Little

  • http://www.britishcouncil.org/brussels-elp-colloquium-david-little.pdf

  • Initial source: Lut Baten: University of Leuven

Student motivation
Student motivation

  • With the growth of awareness and

  • knowledge learners are increasingly empowered, and with the growth in their ability to self-monitor

  • and self-assess they become more confident

  • David Little 2004