If I may ask, what is there about the Thai educational system, that after all these years of academic development, they don't know how to write test questions for TEFL? I've only been teaching EFL for a year, and my coworkers for 15 to 35 years. But they appear to be incapable of writing a question that only has one decent answer. Now, keep in mind that I'm griping about test questions to be given to 12 year olds who are high beginners.
Here's the way I wrote the first question:
1. There are 31 students in our MEP ____. The best answer is "class." My choices were class, teacher, boys, divide, and buffalo. Okay, so that was too easy, and maybe I shouldn't even mention buffalo. So (after I'd already had her buddy review these answers for me, with minimal changes), the boss changed the answers to class, room, grade, studio, and section. "Room" is an excellent choice, about as good as "class." "Section" might be good, too.
Okay, no big deal. My question #2 was something like, "Our MEP lessons after 12:15 p.m. are in the_____" with possible answers "morning, afternoon, evening, night, toilet." The question and all but the last answer are part of the current term's curriculum, and I wouldn't have been offended by the removal of "toilet." Instead, the question has been changed to "Our MEP lessons study in English for three____," with a choice of these answers: rows, lessons, branches, subjects, chapters. None of that was in the vocabulary or curriculum. But there are three MEP subjects, each of which is taught for three lessons, periods, or contact hours per week.
Next, question 3, which I had nothing to do with, nor is it curriculum or vocab: "You should finish your ____ before you go to bed." My response, before I tried to supply an answer, was, "Who says this - teacher or mother?" Anyway, the choice of answers is: housework, homework, workshop, bedroom, bedtime." Well, to a Thai teacher, the obvious answer is only and always "homework," as if they aren't parents as well.
Then she changed both of the dialogues, giving as questions or responses in the dialogue, options that really left me wondering what the best answer is, and I've been their only English teacher all semester! And she added a new story about family, totally confusing, with mother and grandma named "Marsha" and "Masha." And two uncles both named Uncle Brown, stating that he and Aun Alicia had two children, but then again Uncle Brown was only 15 so he had no children, though he had a puppy. His sister was only described by personality, yet there was a question about her appearance.
Meanwhile ,throughout the test ,commas had a space AFTER the word and just before the next word ,like this. One more thing: one correct answer reads, "I am very appreciated" when it should read, "I appreciate it very much."
I love this school, because in many ways it's twice as good as the last one. However, as before, their test questions are shit. I was offered the use of the recommended "midyear Matayom 1 English exam" which had more than its fair share of typos, bad grammar and awkward syntax. Most frequently, there are too many reasonably good answers for high intermediates, let alone for beginners.
Finally: from the regular midyear Matayom 1 exam, please find the mistake in this sentence: "Are there some flowers in the garden?" And before you say that "some" should be replaced by "any," that won't be covered for a few more months, or next school year. That's not the only midyear exam question that covered next term's material.
And these folks have master's degrees in education, and decades of experience writing TEFL tests?
Well, you know, Thais are naturally averse to studying. MA, PhD, Thai university, US university - they just pay their way through. It's not in the culture.
when i was studying Thai for the ministry of education exam I can remember a reading comprehension paper where the questions could not be answered from the passage at all.
After that nothing surprises me.
I would agree with the posters above. This kind of substandard use of the English language is normal for Thailand and I am sure other countries. It's an imperfect world. Blame it on Satan.
By the way, what's "caca"?
"Caca" is impolite Spanish for what the French call "merde" and the Brits spell as "shite" but our President's father referred to as "doo-doo."Originally Posted by sigmoid
Good thread PB. I am just about to start writing the end of semester exam questions. So now i am forwarned and forarmed and ready for anything the teachers throw at me. I have already learned that no one is allowed to fail.
I was told in no uncertain terms that no students would fail my class. So, for the last week, I have been doing a term review using my final exams as review sheets. The students will see the exact same questions on finals day, but in a different order and with the answers mixed up. Let's see what happens with this!
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You could write the questions and answers on the whiteboard while they are doing the actual examination, and some of them would still copy the answers wrongly! This is not exclusive to Thailand, though.Originally Posted by wangsuda
Make sure all your staples are ready for the big day, ajarn dynamo.
Keep your head up and portfolio ready.
Just a thought: sometimes I think, nay, intuitively feel that testing on language is kind of meaningless...it's like we should just mark and look for the students' motivation and application to the task at hand for it is these two traits that will EVENTUALLY determine if that student will come to not only KNOW of a language but to speak and consequently feel it... this level of profeciency having been attained with a sustained, life long love and effort for the target language and its products (films, novels, chat rooms, teachers, TEFLER'S, Naughty Nicks etc.) ...a level of English which is pretty rare in this country to be short and sure...
And on an anticipated evolution of English, it must be said that one day the MOE, with our guidance must cull the numbers in their English classrooms...The most motivated, the most diligent, in effect the highest acheiving students must have all available resources concentrated on their endevours..."pass" everyone who tries to the next level, that is everyone who is respectful to the learning aims and goals of the teacher, and "pass on" the lingusitically spastic to the track to cut laps, or to the kitchen to make crepes, or to the stage to act like a prat or simply-...
They'll re-hire you for sureOriginally Posted by wangsuda
At lower levels we are not testing their English, we are testing how much they retained of what we taught. If students study somehwere else, watch movies with English soundtrack and regularly flip through their picture disctionaries we can still fail them easily on what WE think is important.
An excellent observation! Some ways that teachers can possibly get around this are:Originally Posted by Gopstop
1. Have a small reading comprehension section with an excerpt taken from a popular children's story.
2. Listening comprehension based on a small clip from a popular movie (Shrek, Nemo, etc)
3. Listening comprehension based on popular musical lyrics (although this one can lead to unforseen dangers)
4. Simple one-on-one conversation (if you can find the time)[/list]
Normally we don't have that kind of freedom with the tests.
At my school, and it should be everywhere as the new curriculum is adopted nationwide, we give 70 points out 100 for vaguely defined "standards" - there are for "strands" that subdivide further. So far it has been like this - read through the name list and assign points more or less evenly to get the total score within acceptable margins.
I, personally, collect students marks over the whole semester and then scale them down so that the best student gets 30 and the worst 15. The rest are in between. (I give 30 marks total)
The standard tests for Matayom 1 are multiple choice or matching from column 1 to column 2, so any half-brained student can grade the papers. (By the way, in Northern Dialect, the spoken word 'column' sounds like a slang word for male genitalia, though they won't tell me which one(s)). There is no followup to notice that question 9 was missed by 75% of those who took the test, and the rest just guessed correctly. Some of the questions are terribly pedantic:
The bank is _____ the corner. 1) at 2) on 3) around 4) in
And they don't want 5 possible answers, only 4, of which only 1 is the "best" answer.
If a non-native speaker tells you the bank is in the corner, can you find it?
One question that was slipped into my test, against my will, was like this:
4. Finish your ___________ before you go to bed. 1) housework 2) homework 3) play 4) television
Who's making the statement to the child: teacher, or parent? Duhhh, it's supposed to be obvious at school, that the person making the statement is the teacher. Yet, who's more likely to make that statement, after dinner at home?
Several questions on the standard test for Units 1 to 8 covered material that isn't taught until Units 9 to 16. There were mis-spellings, grammatical errors, duplicative errors. I have no idea what "strand" or "standard" was being tested, and I doubt the designer of the test did, either. Nobody goes back and grades the tester for such disasters, because then somebody would lose face.
But if the farang writes his own test questions, I could lose face.
But that's what passes for "academic" standards in Thailand - and they pronounce academic with the stress on the second syllable!