... Influenc of the CET test on teaching communicative English? Well, my approach is to ignore it altogether. Anything else would seriously undermine theMessage 1 of 6 , Mar 10, 2002View Sourcewilliam donnelly <chengdunow@...> wrote:
>For a Chinese journal, I am writing an article questioning the validity,Influenc of the CET test on teaching communicative English? Well, my
>reliability, fairness and widespread influence of the CET test on
>teaching communicative English.
approach is to ignore it altogether. Anything else would seriously
undermine the teaching of communicative English!!
I lost patience with CET after almost failing the Band 1 and 2 exams
for non-English majors myself. The Australians on the list will
probably quite enjoy imagining a New Zealander failing an English
competency test, but I was less amused!
The CET is not a test of English. It's a test of something; but I'm
not quite sure what. My main problem with it is the reading
comprehension sections: the last one I looked at, and I'm sorry but
I can't remember which exact exam it was, had very scientific articles
to read. The questions were obscure and to infer the answers you
needed a high level knowledge of not English, but the topic of the
article itself (igneous rocks, for instance, about which I know two
things: they are igneous, and they are rocks).
Rant rant rant rant rant. Sorry I must sign off or I'll rant forever
and overload my yahoo email allowance, and everyone else's too.
... Thanks so much. I ll add your complaint to the chorus. You are right about the corpus being tested as scientific and business articles. Could this beMessage 1 of 6 , Mar 11, 2002View SourceKaty Miller <katyinchina@...> wrote:
>Influenc of the CET test on teaching communicative English?Thanks so much. I'll add your complaint to the chorus. You are
>Well, my approach is to ignore it altogether. Anything else
>would seriously undermine the teaching of communicative English!!
right about the corpus being tested as scientific and business
articles. Could this be because they don't want their folks reading
ideas from elsewhere? Is that why there are no American (or Kiwi)
books at the Foreign Bookstore?
In a message dated 3/11/2002 2:45:58 AM Central Standard Time, ... I worked extensively with my students (college English majors) on CET 4&6, TEM 4, and to aMessage 1 of 6 , Mar 11, 2002View SourceIn a message dated 3/11/2002 2:45:58 AM Central Standard Time,
> I lost patience with CET after almost failing the Band 1 and 2 examsI worked extensively with my students (college English majors) on CET 4&6,
> for non-English majors myself.
TEM 4, and to a lesser degree on TEM 8. Like most (if not all) standardized
tests these have been reduced to a formula. They test the students' ability
to recognize set patterns rather than having much to do with language
The way that I approached studying for these tests was to have my students
bring in their study materials and ask questions about the ones that they
were curious about. The panic engendered by the quest for the sacred
certificate overrode the tendency to avoid asking questions <g>. The first
thing I taught was that the answer which translated most directly into
Putonghua was probably wrong (at least it was in all the tests that I worked
through with them). The next thing I taught was the same method we used for
the bar exam -- "these tests are written to confuse you and thereby waste
those precious test taking minutes, so rule out the answers that do not fit,
because it avoids many of the traps intended to make you wonder if there is
some rule that you've forgotten."
The problem that I encountered most often was that the test designers (and I
was working with released copies of previous tests) often use a pattern of
one bad answer, one answer that doesn't really fit, and two answers that are
separated by a fairly fine distinction. It isn't an uncommon way to design
such tests, but (especially at the lower levels) the person writing the test
did not know English quite as well as they thought they did.
Now, to quote one of my students "we spend so much time study for our
certificate that we have no time to prepare for our classes." That pretty
well sums up the pattern that I saw. The class grade had some meaning to a
few of the students who where in the running for scholarships, for the rest
it was the certificate that mattered. English majors in my previous school
were not allowed to take the TEM 8 until their 4th year. When I asked my
third year students why they were so worried about the CET 6, one finally
explained that although CET 6 was considered to be no more difficult that TEM
4, they had to have very high scores. Why? Because they would not have
their TEM 8 certificate at the time they began their job search, meaning that
they would be looking for work with the same credentials as a non-English
major -- except without anything other than English to offer as a job skill.
Thus, the problem with the standardized tests is that they test a student's
ability to take a test in an artificial environment, with little regard for
the student's actual ability to get an idea across. Because of the
disproportionate weight the certificate carries in comparison to the
student's studies (or at least the weight the students believe it to carry)
the standardized testing program not only fails to provide a useful
measurement, it actually takes time away from their actual study of English.
I know of too many students whose test scores indicate that they should have
a fairly good understanding of English, whose ability to use the language
without the crutch of multiple choice was at best very limited.
Of course, perhaps this was only at my school. As another on this list
admonishes "your mileage may vary."
Jonathan P. Dotson
If we stay in China long enough AND keep reading these posts we MIGHT eventually understand what drives our students. We could say peer pressure, parentalMessage 1 of 6 , Mar 11, 2002View SourceIf we stay in China long enough AND keep reading these posts we
MIGHT eventually understand what drives our students. We could
say peer pressure, parental pressure, money and fierce competition
-- but those same things apply in the west and yet the students
are so different. Perhaps it is the difference between individual
effort in the west and group effort here.
Our English majors and presumably all the others do the band 4
exam -- I think. The sophomores desperately want to do the band 6
exam but are not allowed to because the dean is worried that many
will fail and the reputation of the department will suffer. They
then have to do the band 8 later to gain any advantage -- as
Jonathan says. Again -- I think.
If we -at this college -- could get a clear idea - or better still,
definite knowledge -- of what the kids were up against we could
approach the bosses and perhaps get things changed.
Foreigner driven change is possible -- we had this totally unfair
system where students used to run over to the library at 6am, smash
the glass doors (literally a couple of times) and fight to reserve
a seat for the whole day even though they had classes until 7pm.
Two letters to the president and the problem is fixed - well sort of
- for now anyway - until they think I'm not monitoring the situation.
Now I am working on having contemporary (ie say written in the last
20 years) English novels in the library so they can read at their
own level just for fun (I brought back 250 romance, SF, adventure -
kids to adult - when I went home a month ago but this is only
enough for my two reading classes)
Our main frustration is that when we are absolutely certain that we
have asked ALL the right questions and received ALL the answers from
students, staff and administration -- and we are about to take action
-- we find that somewhere in the middle of the process one of us has
completely misunderstood the other and the conclusions are all wrong
and the proposed actions would have had the opposite effect than intended.
Tony & Betty LEE
Zhengzhou Henan PRChina
Thanks to the Lees and to Falkenburg for your replies re: CET complaints. I ve been working on this for a couple of months, reading the articles by the testMessage 1 of 6 , Mar 11, 2002View SourceThanks to the Lees and to Falkenburg for your replies re: CET
complaints. I've been working on this for a couple of months,
reading the articles by the test makers and critics. Your
comments were so valuable to any newly arriving teacher that it
is a pity it isn't Fall. As to the "two right answers" dilemma,
try this. According to an American critique of standardized
testing, two right answers provide a way of being sure that the
unduly talented will get half of them wrong. Only the test makers
can know which right answer is "right." It's arbitrary, and
designed to keep the extremely bright minority from creating an
unsightly bulge at the right side of the bell shaped curve,
prioritizing ranking over actual rating of expertise. Seems
pretty sleazy to me, and creates a nightmare of "One right answer"
for us: constant quizzing on identical synonyms to the exclusion
of more significant questions from our students. As if the
ability to distinguish betwween "devoted" and "dedicated" were
going to be crucial to communicative ability in the real world.
Is there somewhere your responses can be more permanently posted?
As you know, Geocities is off limits here.