Assessing Oral Language and Literacy Development
In our generation today, there are various styles and strategies that teachers can use in assessing their students’ skills. It is essential to know and understand how children develop their skills in order to identify their weaknesses and strengths. However, it is quite difficult to assess these certain skills. Hence, teachers should use creative methods of assessment to determine if the students are really learning and absorbing what they teach. Teachers should also be very careful and accurate in assessing the children’s progress in school to be able to determine the areas where students excel and experience difficulty. In this way, the teachers would know which areas to focus on so as to improve their students’ weaknesses and further enhance their strengths (Mead & Rubin, 2008). This paper will discuss how teachers can assess the literacy development of their students, specifically their writing, speaking, listening, and reading comprehension skills. This paper will also provide examples for each skill that is needed to be developed.
In assessing the listening comprehension of a student, a teacher can use different styles to do it. They can use a post-listening activity to check comprehension, evaluate listening skills and use of listening strategies, and broaden the information learned to other contexts. A post-listening activity may complement a pre-listening activity such as predicting, expand on the topic or the language of the listening text, or transfer what has been learned to reading, speaking, or writing activities. Listening tests are usually like reading comprehension. The only difference is that the student listens to something instead of reading it. This would be followed by an application activity which can assess whether or not the student listened and understood the test. One good example of this is when the teacher lets the student listen to a news report, such as sports news, on television or radio. After listening to the sports report, the teacher can now ask questions to check how attentive the student was in listening to the news. To evaluate the students’ listening comprehension, the teacher can make a checklist containing specific features of the sports report or a multiple choice questions that students can answer to determine how much they remember and understand on what they have listened to previously (Mead & Rubin, 1985).
In the case of the speaking skills of students, they may be very difficult to evaluate and check, especially if the student is a bilingual. However, in assessing their speaking skills, there are different applied exercises a teacher can use to determine and evaluate the speaking ability of their students. It is said that there are two methods for assessing speaking skills of the students: the observational approach, wherein the student’s behavior is observed and assessed discreetly, and the structured approach, wherein a student is asked to present a specific speaking task (Mead & Rubin, 1985).
Using the structured approach, a teacher can assess a student’s speaking skills through certain activities such as making an oral report on a certain topic, extemporaneous speech, role play, and other activities that are related to letting the student speak. These activities that involve speaking allow the teacher to evaluate the students according to different criteria such as grammar, vocabulary or use of words, and fluency. For example, a teacher can ask his or her students to stand in front of the class and give a certain time to let the student think and say something like introducing himself or herself, or it could be a certain topic or issue that is just appropriate and will fit to the student’s level and knowledge. In this way, the teacher can see and grade the student accordingly on a given criteria, such as how fluent the student was in delivering the speech and what types of words he or she used (Mead & Rubin, 1985).
When it comes to assessing the reading skill of the students, it is very important to note that, whether silently or aloud, they understand fully the content of what they are reading. There are some instances when a student can read a text aloud and fluently. However, being able to speak clearly and loudly is not an assurance that the student understood the text. Students have their own style of comprehending. For instance, there are some students who understand more if they read something aloud while other students can fully comprehend what they are reading if they read it silently. In this case, the teacher should know their students’ styles to be able to evaluate their reading skills (Paris, 2007).
Different strategies can be used in assessing the reading skill of a student. A teacher can use different types of test. For example, the teacher can ask the students to read a short story or an article. After a while, the teacher can give exercises such as sequencing events wherein a student will be given sentences or group paragraphs and will be asked to arrange them accordingly from beginning of the story until the end. In this way, the teacher would be able to determine how much the student remembers on what he or she had just read. Another method of assessment that the teacher can use is to have the students write a summary of the short story or article that they have just read to know how they understood the story. In addition, a teacher can use a flow chart as a strategy to measure the students’ reading skill and comprehension. A flow chart would be a helpful tool for the students in sequencing the events or flow of the story. It is a simple activity that involves making a series of squares connected by lines or arrows to present a summary of the story or article. In every square, the students must write a sentence or phrase that will summarize the whole event of the text. In this case, it will be easier to assess and look how much the student comprehended or understood about a certain type of reading material (Paris, 2007).
Lastly, teachers can use different styles and strategies in grading and measuring how good a certain student is in writing. There will always be research papers, book or movie reviews, term papers, and personal essays that a teacher will ask a student to write. Through these writing activities, the teacher can see how creative their students can be in writing. In writing, there are several aspects of writing a teacher can check to assess the level of writing skills that a student possesses. First is fluency. This involves checking how creative the students are in translating their thoughts into writing. Second is the content, which the teacher checks to see if the student’s composition makes sense, has originality, and is organized, accurate, and coherent. Another aspect of writing is convention, wherein the teacher checks the grammar, punctuations, spelling, and capitalization of the content of the composition. Fourth is syntax, where the teacher can assess how good the student is in composing sentences. Checking the syntax also involves determining if there are fragments in the composition or if sentences are too simple or complex. The last aspect of writing that the teacher can check is vocabulary, wherein the teacher observes the use of vocabulary words. Specifically, the teacher determines whether the words are too simple or too advanced for the students to use, or just appropriate for the students’ level. One concrete example of this is when an English teacher asks middle school students to write three pages of a personal essay about a certain topic. With this task, a teacher can check the five guidelines mentioned above to grade the students in their writing ability. It is one simple way of knowing the students’ strengths and weaknesses in writing compositions (Stephen, 1996).
In conclusion, literacy development and oral language assessment is essential for every teacher to know. It is important to discover each and every student’s weaknesses and strengths for teachers to determine in which program or organization the student should be placed to further develop and enhance their skills. Assessing student’s skills is a very useful tool for both teachers and students so they can help each other learn and achieve self-development.
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