How Can we Assess Grammar Effectively?
By Zarela Cruz
When it comes to grammar, students have the strong belief that its assessment consists of a long list of rules to be memorized, word categories, content words, function words, multiple choice exams and the cherry on top: the passing or failing grade. This is a big misconception. Grammar is a set of rules, but it does not mean that it is not possible to broaden our scope during assessment.
It is true that students must learn a set of rules. That is the starting point of course, but not the only goal. We must, for example, give them the chance to use and apply what they have already or just learned in class, through role plays, presentations and interviews among other well-known activities.
What are we teachers more willing to use? A gap filling exercise, a transformation sentence, error identification, a multiple choice test, an online quiz, and a cloze test are definitely a must. Why? Because they are easy to make and most of all, faster to check.
Let’ stop for a while and check our objectives: What are we assessing grammar for? To master a grammar topic? Good. And what is the next step? To use it effectively and/or efficiently. Why not considering asking them to prepare a True/False quiz with the grammar points seen so far? You will be surprised to see how creative students can be. You can include some of their questions in a coming evaluation. You cannot imagine the sense of achievement they feel when they see some of their questions as part of your monthly evaluation. You have more advance students? Ask them to prepare a Portfolio. This is not a short-term assignment, but you can monitor it in steps and provide feedback so that they can refine their papers.
An activity I use quite often is writing peer correction. We use an Error Correction Code everybody is aware of and use it when checking a classmate’s writing. At random. At any time. But of course, it is important to show them how this Error Correction Code works with a writing sample. If students are not able to find the mistake, it is simply because they commit the same mistake. Once they have identified their faults, they will be more careful from then on.
And last, but not least important; use a rubric. Students do want to learn from their mistakes, but most of all, appreciate a teacher who is fair, and not only uses the top standardized tests.
Now is your turn:
How do you usually assess your students regarding grammar? Would you try a different approach in the short term?
Let us know what you think! Keep in mind that our purpose is to interact with the teachers’ community members and to share our experience and thoughts.
How to make the assessment of grammar skills more efficient? NOZADZE, Alexandra. Journal of Education. ISSN 2298-0245
Zarela Cruz graduated from Ricardo Palma University as a translator. She also finished her master’s studies in Linguistics and took some specialization diplomas in English and Spanish. She has also completed a number of online certificates: Teaching the Working Adult, Online, Hybrid and Blended Education, among other self-study courses. She has taught different courses, programs and levels and has been a teacher trainer, a lecturer and online instructor. This article aims to reflect on the assessment of grammar.