Click here to access the Session Notes as well!

Jeff is preparing for the Cambridge Delta. 

In this (slightly improvised… :D) session we talked about the following topics, among others:

-item writing standards in ELT

-fairness, validity

-L1 interference (e.g. Konglish)

-teacher-induced errors

-imitating/accidentally accepting or even reinforcing incorrect language use ‘to fit in’ in a cultural context

-mercy, kindness, generosity, giving (item writers) the benefit of the doubt while still noticing issues in a piece of material/exam

-Table of Contents in course books: 

            • redundant phrasing of core content

            • lack of (language) exemplification

            • lack of clarity/specificity of themes

            • lack of specific sub-skills

            • overuse of fancy meta-language to describe grammar areas

            • issues with layout affecting accessibility

-the hegemony of grammar items (over e.g. skills ones) 

-the hegemony of form items (over e.g. CLT, i.e. focusing on meaning)

-the hegemony of MCQs (multiple-choice questions) and the practical reasons behind this

-how to write items that actually test meaning

-the importance of only including lexis that is on level in an item

-the importance of only including lexis that is coming from the original material

-the importance of modeling correct language use when writing an item (stem AND distractors)

-the importance of writing answer keys that are unambiguous

-the importance of bearing in mind pragmatics in materials writing (not just semantics)

-writing open-ended questions and why they are challenging

-prescriptive rubrics (e.g. ‘You must use the passive voice’) and what’s wrong with them

-items that don’t test the TL that they intended to (construct validity)

-the problem with overlapping TL areas within the same item

-how broad the scope of an item’s topic should be (e.g. ‘your hometown’ vs ‘one thing you hate about your hometown’)

-the importance of writing clear instructions

-the importance of writing instructions in English only

-the problem with obviously wrong distractors

-accidentally fossilizing wrong (e.g. L1 interference, e.g. Konglish) use by ‘demanding low’

-issues with distractors:

            • surreal (obviously wrong) options

            • not of the same grammatical category/form/word count

            • not of the same lexical set

-misuse/ambiguous use of terms in an item or instructions (e.g. ‘appropriate’ –?!)

-noticing multiple layers (and issues) in the same material/test

-being receptive to feedback/feedback as a ‘love language’

-institutional constraints, rigid policies

-ranting means reflecting!

P.s. Gozo also makes a guest appearance! 😉 <3

Any comments? Let us know here, or on LinkedIn!

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Hi. I’m Fatime. I’m an IELTS Teacher Trainer, helping CELTA-qualified English language teachers become better at teaching SKILLS, as opposed to just testing them. 

Check out my courses here:

How to Teach IELTS Listening:

How to Teach IELTS Reading:

How to Teach IELTS Writing:

How to Teach IELTS Speaking: