Assessment is an important issue of Modern Foreign Language Education.. The aim of this essay is to dive into a featured topic of Modern Foreign Language teaching in the UK, specifically to investigate assessment activities in the MFL schoolroom. In order to do so, this essay will focus on different research papers that have been produced on this issue. The essay will first provide the issue of Assessment with general definitions which are necessary to understand how Formative and Summative Assessment are working in MFL classroom. Then it will provide an explanation of this issue used during my placement activity. Within this part, the essay looks at my experiences, as well as the reasons they are used. Finally, the essay will summarize its finding and provide a brief conclusion on its takeaways.
I come from Hungary where I have spent many years both as a learner and a MFL teacher of mainly Russian, French and Italian. Coaching for me a profession which means that I set my ‘standards’ and share the love for MFL learning. In my opinion an MFL teacher does not have to teach students only to take an exam, however, I am a teacher who believes that studying a Foreign Language means a lifelong enjoyment in that field. In addition, I am a life-long learner, too so I can exactly understand what my young students feel when they come into in MFL classroom and try their Speaking, Reading, Listening and Writing skills.
In Hungary, we have a long experience of MFL teaching. During the assessment process students are given marks for their performance. They may be tested any time, without any previous warning to take a test, to write an essay or to answer questions in front of the class. The marks are from 1 to 5, the 5 is the best. These marks define the final mark for the whole school year for each subject they learn. Marks also decide on the secondary school entry for each student. Concerning the MFL learning, at the end of the Secondary education, students are requested to take also a school leaving exam where there is a chosen MFL exam, too. Students can get university degree unless they have a valid exam pass in an MFL at a level B2 according to European Language Proficiency Frame descriptors. Therefore marks and summative assessment, is part of the entire school system, as well as for language performances from year 4.
In the UK, as a PGCE Secondary MFL trainee I have found a totally different approach to teach and assess students’ activity in the Primary and Secondary school. The aim of this paper is to show how assessment activities are fundamental in MFL day-to-day in the UK Education, in this “changing landscape of languages” as an OFSTED report described it.
1. Assessment definitions
According to 6th point of the Teacher Standards and Associated Descriptors, an Outstanding teacher can confidently and accurately assess pupils’ attainment against national benchmarks. They use a range of assessment strategies very effectively in their day to day practice to monitor progress and to inform future planning.