How to turn an inspirational dream into reality?
In language classrooms, when the gaps in students' proficiency levels are too wide, it is a challenge for teachers to create unique learning opportunities for the students. Students start feeling lost and disengaged. There are many simple ways to build a personalized approach to language teaching. However, the most important step is to build a strong foundation.
First of all, we should keep in mind that assessment is a part of good pedagogy, not just something that happens at the end of a course or school year. It should be seen as an opportunity to gather information in order to make judgments which provide the basis for further action.
And actually, it is quite easy to realize! Two schools of OPO Hof van Twente started by letting their classes take the TOEFL Primary Test. The wide range of level differences within an age group demonstrated by the TOEFL Primary Tests created by ETS paved the way for a 180-degree change in the English language for starters at obs Stedeke and obs Brookschole. monitoring progress over time in order to help learners understand where they have been successful in their learning and what they need to work towards achieving their goals.
In the near future, more schools from the Twente region will join them and hopefully, many more will follow from all over the world.
What did we do?
All children of the 4th, 5th and 6th grade took the TOEFL Primary Test. This large scale assessment placed all children on the CEFR grid. And the level differences among the children turned out to be huge.
The best thing about these assessments is that those wide CEFR levels are divided into detailed scale scores. To these scale scores, concrete learning objectives are connected. This way, all children know exactly where they are for each English skill and what they need to learn in order to take the next step.
This detailed and practical information enabled the teachers of the schools to place the children in level groups. Realizing this was easy! Simply plan the English hour at the same time.
The board (OPO Hof van Twente) invested in expanding the libraries, new learning books and in challenging online learning environments, linked to the outcome of the assessments. Now, children learn autonomously, exactly on the right level, and as an extra on a subject of their liking!
Additionally, the TOEFL test provides each child with a Lexile score for reading. The schools organized their English libraries according to the Lexile system. Now children can pick a book that matches their reading level and is challenging enough to expand their vocabulary.
What should you know more?
TOEFL Primary Tests belong to a family of assessments, provided by ETS (Princeton, USA). TOEFL Junior is available for secondary education and TOEFL ITP can serve as an assessment for late secondary or higher education.
As a primary school board, we are now seeking close cooperation with secondary and higher education institutes, to develop a continuous learning path for the children for personalized English language learning.