How to evaluate your foreign language students online?

Nov 27, 2020

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How to evaluate your foreign language students online?

During the confinement, we had to learn to work and take classes online. Whether we like it or not, it is a way of working that with time and different circumstances is gaining ground and that little by little it is expanding in language teaching. One of the fundamental questions that have arisen for teachers is how to evaluate in this new situation. Perhaps the time has come to give a fundamental turn to the procedures and tools, to the teaching and learning methodologies. Because, as all teachers have realized, this new way requires another way of approaching classes and working with students. That is why today we are going to give you some tips that will surely help you to work your classes online and, especially, to evaluate your students, something that we know can worry you a lot.

Some tips for the online assessment of foreign language learning

- You have to get used to the idea that an online class cannot be exactly the same as a face-to-face one, but with a screen in between. If that were the case, we would all be very bored, from the teachers to our students. It is essential that an adaptation be made in which students can acquire the skills of new technologies and learn from here. Therefore, the traditional evaluation is not supported by this new methodology. So you still have to rethink the traditional way of scoring with written tests constantly.

Attitude, a good evaluation tool. Do your students connect when you propose some kind of interaction? Also see if they deliver what you send them, if they do what they have to do, etc. Evaluate, put points also to all these parameters and from here you can start to obtain interesting grades.

- It is essential that if we work through an online format, that the learning and evolution of students in managing programs, applications, etc. is also measured. You have to ask for exercises and assignments in which the students have to use this type of program or tools. It is very important to be flexible in this aspect, as in all of them, since for many students internet connection is impossible or scarce and with them we will have to think of alternative means. We also have students who have a learning rhythm  much slower than the rest, who do not like it or find it more difficult to adapt. It is also essential to take into account the age of the students because if they are young, the most normal thing is that they are used to living with these tools, much less if they are adults and older.

- Use or create audiovisual materials for this new way of learning, since it is essential that they listen and see. It is the most revolutionary step you may have to take to prepare your classes from now on: leave the master classes behind and make possible a more dynamic, more visual and interactive type of explanation. Therefore, the activities that you do to evaluate will have to be of the same type: that the students prepare videos, visual presentations, podscats, etc.

Internet is the great encyclopedic dictionary of today. This means that they can do many searches, and that can be beneficial and interesting for them, those that you as a teacher consider appropriate to do. They will learn a lot. But do not make it easy for them to copy and paste, but rather make them search, extract information and think a little and elaborate the answers.

- It may be time to create a blog of your own or create a collective blog that you as a teacher control. In this collaboration space you can upload grammar pills created by the students, translations, reflections, etc. It can be intense and interesting and it can be a lot of fun and motivating for all of them. It is necessary that it be managed throughout the course.

- Use a platform like Classroom in which you have all your students included, you can pass them activities, they can give you the things they do and in which you can create a folder that is like a kind of library in which you limit yourself to uploading books that can help them, dictionaries, etc. It is a very good idea to work on readings or searches. You can also rate some type of work related to reading some of these books, it can help you a lot.

- And to make sure that your students study and control what they have learned, or internalize it, take better oral exams. Everything will depend on the number of students you have in groups, but what you can do is personal interviews, interviews in pairs or very small groups, have two or three speak, etc. You have many platforms in which your students can interact and you can rate in this way the most rote learning they have done.

In summary…

All the above proposals are scored, that is, that you establish some evaluation criteria the first days of class and that you expose them to your students. In this criteria, you will explain everything you are going to work on and how it will be scored. This will allow you to obtain a score of the students' work without the need to resort to techniques that are not adapted to new technologies. These basic ideas can help you to carry out activities that go more with this new format. However, time and experience will take you to other possibilities and resources and you will create your own means and methods to work in this way. Remember that you always have to think about how students can learn through new technologies, but in a way that allows you to rate them while the evaluation has to be done using a numerical grade.