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Vol 35 No 2, April - June 1997
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Editorial

Teachers have often felt that the demands of examinations conflict with their goals as educators. As educators, we have long felt that tests should reflect, and in fact, contribute to learning. As members of educational institutions we have felt a need for accountability, a need which tests have served all too well. For this reason, the examination has been viewed as an imposition by some or as a necessary evil by others, an assessment which does not effectively demonstrate or reflect the actual learning in the classroom. Too often teachers have taught for a test which they thought did not adequately reflect the real language needs of the learners or which favored students with a particular learning style while putting others at an unfair disadvantage. The articles in this issue address some of these problems while attempting to bridge the gap between teaching and testing.

 


 

Continuous assessment as described by Carol Puhl gathers information about the students from different sources throughout the course. Puhl contrasts continuous assessment with more traditional forms of testing and provides a variety of tools teachers can employ to implement successful assessment programs. Santos and Baack describe portfolio assessment, showing how portfolios can foster a positive classroom atmosphere while encouraging reflective activities in the classroom. The relationship between testing and teaching is investigated further by Irvine-Niakaris, who describes a new standardized competency examination. The particularly thorny issue of oral assessment is addressed by Chaudhary, Hingle and Linington. Chaudhary focuses on features of spoken English which affect intelligibility, while Hingle and Linington describe a humane approach to testing children’s oral production. De Lopez, Marchi, and Arreaza-Coyle outline a taxonomy for classifying and developing tests in reading, while Rand advocates turning the tables so that tests test the teacher as much as the students. Our Teacher Resources page reviews several books that teachers who wish to delve further in this area may find useful.

The subtheme of cats is brought to us by Cuņado and Sally, who explain how to teach phonetics and dramatize a poem using “Cats” and “The Owl and the Pussycat.” This same theme is picked up in our Idiom and Lighter Side pages. In order to be fair to dog lovers, we have allowed a few dog phrases to creep in as well.

The theme of this issue and solicitation of articles is due to the unique efforts of Dolores Parker, who managed to edit the Forum and contact contributors while juggling a myriad of duties in Washington. We owe Dee our deepest gratitude for her creativity, enthusiasm, and knowledge of the field, which she unflaggingly mined to our benefit.

Future issues will explore content-based instruction, another way of making classrooms more relevant to students’ needs. We welcome articles in this area, and hope to have the Summer issue devoted to drama in the classroom in your hands by July. We plan on offering a new section in the July issue, entitled Civic Education, which will include activities promoting civic education. Since we are not receiving questions on English grammar, we assume that our readers no longer see the usefulness of that page, which will be dropped in our next issue. However, if we receive a flurry of letters, we will be happy to resuscitate the Q & A page and expand our letters page, which depends on input from our readers. We plan on expanding our teacher resource page as the flood of useful books appearing on the market warrants more space. The Forum occupies a unique niche in the field in which readers can learn about developments in TEFL/TESL and education in the United States while informing our international readership of developments in their countries. We welcome your letters, articles, questions, and suggestions, which make our periodical a true Forum.


 

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