Category Archives: Language Test Development

Training in Tashkent and Skopje

Claire has recently returned from Uzbekistan, her third trip in six months, where she had been running the fifth in a series of NILE led workshops for teachers at the National Guard Institute, as part of a British Council managed teacher development project. This time her focus was developmental lesson observations designed to support the teachers in their work with Campaign, which was introduced in November. She was delighted to observe them in action and to see first-hand how well they are coping with the coursebook. Claire was really impressed by the amount of preparation they put into their lessons, their openness to constructive feedback, and their willingness to act upon it immediately, adapting their techniques by the very next observation.

She would like to thank the National Guard Institute for their warmth and hospitality, and the teachers for their friendship and generosity. Last, but not least, she would like to thank the British Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Mr Christopher Allan, for presenting the certificates on the final day, and the British Defence Attaché, Wing Commander Andrew Strefford for accompanying him.

Rob was also out and about last week. He was back in Skopje, Macedonia, working with the STANAG Testing Team, writing and moderating Listening items for Levels 2 and 3.

North Macedonia Signs NATO Accession Agreement

Congratulations to North Macedonia on the signing of the NATO accession agreement in Brussels yesterday. This is the first step towards full NATO membership, and now all NATO countries need to ratify the agreement. Greece will go first.

Coincidentally, Rob is in Skopje this week working with the STANAG Testing Team on their level 2 and 3 speaking and writing tests, as reliable STANAG tests scores are a key component for interoperability within NATO at all levels, and for selecting the right personnel to take part in multinational peace support operations worldwide.

On the Other Side of the Fence

Sometimes it is good to get a different perspective and to experience life as a trainee and not just as a trainer. This has been the case for Claire, who is feeling professionally re-energised having just completed Weeks 1 and 2 of the Language Testing at Lancaster (LTL) course. During these two weeks input was provided on the principles of language testing; the testing of reading, writing, listening, speaking and language in use; statistics; and setting standards. The course gave Claire the opportunity to refresh her theoretical knowledge of language testing, and to gain hands on experience of developing test items. In addition to the exceptional tutors, led by Dr Rita Green, who has been Course Director of the LTL since 2001, the course participants contributed greatly to the whole experience not only in the classroom, but after class too. So thanks to all those involved and see you in 2016 for Weeks 3 and 4! Until then Claire is looking forward to working with her colleagues at McIlwraith Education, who have a wealth of testing expertise, on language testing projects.

Lancaster Group

Iraq, Edinburgh, Kazakhstan and Serbia

The team is scattered all over the place at the moment. Alistair and I have just returned from Juba where we were training researchers in the first stage of a project to develop a National English Language Policy Framework for the South Sudan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology. The work is being managed by the Windle Trust and funded through UNICEF. He is off to London to deliver a keynote speech on English in Iraq for the British Council during which he will describe his work there over the last year or so. Mid-week, we will be running a workshop for the MSc TESOL Testing Group students at Edinburgh University. Claire is currently in Astana, Kazakhstan, delivering training for Cambridge Assessment and Rob will be off next week to continue our support in developing the Peacekeeping English Project in Serbia.

Egypt, Serbia and Bell Educational Trust

I had a very interesting and constructive two weeks in Cairo learning about British Council activity in English language education and meeting officials from the Ministry of Education. I also had the chance to see some teacher training. Alistair and I will be going back at the end of October to observe teaching in schools in Cairo and governorates outside the capital. I will be talking to employers and parents about their experiences and expectations of English language education particularly at Primary level and in the vocational education sector. The aim is that by the end of the year we will have enough information to help the British Council and the Ministry of Education develop sets of standards and levels of quality for Basic Education over the next three to five years. We have also been busy elsewhere. Claire has been working on curriculum development for the Bell Educational Trust and Rob continues his work on materials development in Serbia for staff at the Ministry of Defence. Alistair will also be leading a test development workshop in Serbia in October.

Class Picture

Language Testing Manual Delivered to BBC Media Action

Following our visit to Bangladesh at the end of last month, Alistair and I have now delivered a training manual for the BBC Janala team at BBC Media Action in Dhaka. It describes all of the elements necessary for developing and conducting the language tests that accompany Janala’s television, newspaper, mobile and web English language courses…

Alistair and Phil are on the Move

My colleagues Alistair Fortune MBE and Phil Silvester CBE are on the move. Alistair is currently in Northern Cyprus continuing his work with the Ministry of Education Youth and Sports to benchmark the Secondary ELT curriculum to the Common European Framework of Reference. Phil and I will cross paths in Algeria. He is to start a school inspector training course there early next month…