The first week of my seventh semester, I was presented a lecture regarding language assessment. My position as student of English literature which certainly studies language as primary course, and simultaneously a freelance teacher who occasionally got confused in testing my students makes this course very interesting to heed.
When my teacher explained the course, my memory was suddenly thrown to the time when I frequently found difficult to instruct and test my student. During this time, when I had to assess my student I only imitated the way my teachers in my college tests their students, such as discussing the course together to get the idea, quiz, or other kinds of formal test without studying it formally. That time, I thought it was no problem with that although sooner or later I shall find it necessary to learn as it will cope difficulties related to such things.
Regarding to my experience, it was right that I need to learn this course as its aim is to make us a good language instructor, so that soon at least I can be a good teacher to my student and help them understand the course with proper tests. Its objective is also in accordance with the definition of language assessment, that is: any ways to help learners develop and gain maximum knowledge and skill regarding language use by evaluating it with many ways.
Many ways to evaluate one’s achievement in language use, and it divided into formal and informal assessment. In accordance to its name, formal assessment tend to be conducted with formal ways, such as: make journals, portfolios, and tests. Hence, it can be said that formal assessment is planned and systematically prepared. Otherwise, informal assessment is unplanned, unprepared, and spontaneous such as: give either oral or written comments. The formal and informal assessment can be given during the process of learning as an effort to help learners gain maximum knowledge and skills. Such way called as formative assessment. Beside formative, there is also summative assessment which is conducted in the end of the learning process in order to summarize the ‘end’ result of the learners. Final exam is one of example of summative assessment.
Learning language assessment, basically, we learn to test one’s language ability. Throughout my life, I know several conventional tests e.g. examination, interview, TOEIC, TOEFL, and comments. I just have known that those tests belong to different types. There are tests which according to their purposes, such as language proficiency tests in order to know someone’s language proficiency. Thus, TOEFL and TOEIC are kind of the test. Regarding to proficiency, there is also tests according to language proficiency concept that divided into discrete-point tests that evaluate specific skill (such as, listening test, reading test, or pronunciation test) and integrative test that integrates all skills, so it evaluates more than one skill. For example: You’re given a text, and you’re demanded to answer some questions related to the text, then summarize it, thus, the skill that is evaluated is reading and writing. Not only that, there are tests according to their scoring. This kind of test is divided into norm referenced test or usually called as objective test like common tests ( mid test, final test), and criterion-referenced test or subjective test that has its own criteria to score people. Music contest such as Indonesia Mencari Bakat is criterion-referenced test. There are still two more kinds of test, namely: communicative language test which essentially a performance of language use that related to real life, and performance-based test that evaluate you to explain something, such as: IELTS speaking test.
Those things are the concept of language assessment that gives me deeper insight in evaluating and testing language use. Directly, it teaches me how to cope with such hinder. Now, I am not confused anymore and I know that in fact, there are many ways to test and evaluate someone’s language proficiency. Therefore, it helps me a lot to give proper test to my student.