Set the Language Ball Rolling!

“Ugh, tests!”

This is the normal, human reaction to any graded assessment. Surely, tests are not good news for students!

However, at MIS, the Language Acquisition department begins every academic year with a BANG! through their language proficiency tests. Students never complain about these tests. So, what makes these tests so special?

Students do not have to prepare for the content of these tests; these only assess their skills. As such, students are given the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in a stress-free environment, and can enjoy exploring the different domains of Reading, Writing, Listening and Speaking after a long summer break. Moreover, students are happy to receive clarity vis-a-vis their levels of proficiency that these domains reflect. This in turn helps their teachers better support their instruction. This also provides a strong platform for students to identify their strengths and weaknesses and to set goals for their learning in their French, German, Hindi and English language acquisition classes.

One such proficiency test which the English Language Acquisition teachers use is the WIDA (World – Class Instructional Design and Assessment). MIS has been a member of the WIDA consortium for more than two years. The true value of administering a WIDA test is the real-time data it provides. This is used to guide instruction, monitor student language growth, predict student performance on summative assessments, and help not only the language teachers but also other subject teachers to make informed decisions about curriculum and programming. This data ensures students are receiving proper instructional supports and helps differentiate instruction to better serve each student’s needs.

WIDA is not only about assessments. It also provides tools that enhances language learning. Its framework for language development complements the philosophy of teaching and learning inherent in the IB curricula, which advocates an inclusive learning environment for all learners and views language development as an integral part of teaching and learning. Moreover, WIDA believes in an asset-based approach, where students are valued for what they bring to the classroom rather than being characterized by what they are lacking or by areas they might need to improve.

This wide range of data available to teachers at the beginning of the year initiates smooth sailing and accelerates the growth of learning languages.

So, aren’t placement tests an excellent way to begin the academic year?

Taskeen Sheikh

HOD Language Acquisition