Assessment and evaluation is not an easy feat when teaching English as a Second Language in general, and it can be even more challenging when teaching one-to-one ESL lessons.
Assessing the student’s level and abilities in a one-to-one lesson can be easier than assessing several students in a larger class since the teacher is in constant contact with one student per lesson. However, sometimes the lack of other students can become a complication if the teacher and the student do not share expectations or benchmarks as a point of reference for the assessments. Keeping the teacher-student relationship as professional as possible is highly recommended to ensure that communicating evaluation results happens as smoothly as possible.
Assessment Tools – Testing One-to-One ESL Students
It is very important that the teacher is fully equipped with the proper assessment tools from the very beginning of the series of one-to-one lessons. What’s more, it is also recommended that the teacher makes the student aware of these tools from the beginning so that the student can be aware of them and agree. In addition, the student should let the teacher know what his or her expectations are for these lessons.
Benchmarks and rubrics are essential tools when assessing and later evaluating one-to-one students. For instance, Canadian Benchmarks for Adult ESL lessons can be found at http://www.language.ca/. These can be extremely helpful as an objective reference point to assess and evaluate students and communicate these assessment results to them as well. [Note: that these benchmarks or expectations can be adapted or changed for younger students if needed].
Even though the teacher and student spend almost all the time of the one-to-one lesson interacting, there needs to be time set for assessments and evaluations either weekly or biweekly to make sure the student can also feel himself/herself progressing. Furthermore, these assessments will certainly inform the next steps in the teaching process as well.
Communication – Testing One-to-One ESL Students
Another significant challenge that one-to-one lessons presents is that of communicating the results to the student.
There are, of course, advantages to be considered when teaching one-to-one lessons. The rapport that often develops between the teacher and the student can sometimes make this communication of assessment results easier. When it comes to communicating evaluation results and whether expectations have been met through, the students can develop a clear resistance if they are not satisfied with the results they are getting.
The best way to prevent and / or solve this common problem, is to make sure communication is clear and professional from the beginning of the lessons. Also, the expectations for each lesson need to be clear and shared between the student and the teacher to avoid disappointments and misunderstandings later on.
When providing feedback on activities or tasks, the ‘sandwich approach’ can be used. The teacher begins by praising or pointing out something the student has done that is satisfactory or above the expectations if possible. That comment is followed by a clear, practical comment on what needs to be improved and how. It is very important that the teacher offers practical advice on how to improve at this point. Finally, if necessary, the teacher should close the conversation with another positive comment or a suggestion for next steps to follow with a hopeful and cheerful tone.
In conclusion, if expectations are clear from the onset of the lessons and communication is kept at a professional and practical level, assessment and evaluations in one-to-one lessons should be an overall positive experience.
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