Essential Questions:

  1. How can assessment be used effectively?

  2. When does error correction impede or improve communication?

  3. What factors affect language learning and acquisition?

  4. How do we balance accuracy and fluency?

Understanding by Design (UbD, McTighe and Wiggins 2005) tells us that there are 3 main stages to educational planning. They are:

  • Stage 1. What is worthy and requiring of understanding? (A.G.O blog post)

  • Stage 2. What is evidence of understanding? (Assessment & Feedback)

  • Stage 3. What learning experiences and teaching promote understanding, interest, and excellence? (Individual learning activities)

Welcome to stage 2!

Now that you have a plan for the course and an idea of the course objectives, you need to decide how (and when) you will know that these objectives are met.

Part 1A: Kinds of Assessments

Just as there are multiple learning styles, there are multiple teaching styles; there are also multiple types of assessments.However, it’s important to remember that while all tests are assessments, not all assessments are tests. A summary of the 4 main  types of assessments can be found below. Please note that for each there are “traditional methods” and “alternative methods.” The communicative approach we use at Dynamic tends to favor the alternative approach, BUT there is always some room for traditions.


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Part 1B: Integrated Performance Assessments (Summative)

An Integrated Performance Assessment (IPA) is a summative assessment that is comprised of three tasks. Each task corresponds to one of the three modes of communication--Interpretive (receptive), Interpersonal (spontaneous) and Presentational (planned and productive). The tasks should all build upon each other.

The three tasks are aligned within a single theme or content area, and they reflect how students naturally acquire and use the language in the real world.  Research shows that the brain learns and recalls learning through connections and relationships. The more teachers make connections,patterns and relationships explicit and accessible for students, the easier it will be for the brain to integrate and retain new information.

IPAs are designed for students at the elementary, intermediate, and advanced levels of proficiency. They are standards-based, performance-based, and developmental and integrative in nature.  IPAs are designed to be used with scoring rubrics that rate performance in terms of whether the performance meets expectations, exceeds expectations, or does not meet expectations for the task. See the Dynamic Teacher Resource Drive for more information.

***Each IPA task can replicated in shortened form for formative assessments***

Part 1C: Supporting Second Language Acquisition (SLA) Theories to Consider


  • Learning vs Acquiring (Krashen) and Noticing (Schmidt)

Learning language is different than acquiring language. Learning is concerned with explicit knowledge that is consciously studied. Many times we focus on learning grammar rules and vocabulary words, but we don’t focus enough on the context of when and how to use this knowledge. To learn grammatical features of a language, students need to first notice them. Noticing alone does not mean that learners automatically acquire language; rather, the hypothesis states that noticing is the essential starting point for acquisition. (Richard Schmidt 1990).


  • Explicit Knowledge vs Implicit Knowledge

Then, to acquire a grammar form or vocabulary word, students need to make comparisons to their prior knowledge and current life. Slowly but surely, after at least 10-20 exposures minimum, the student will begin to integrate the grammar form or vocabulary word into their implicit knowledge. This intuitive and automatized knowledge is needed to communicate effectively. Explicit knowledge that is learned can most often be monitored or edited, but this may be impede communication and make the speaker sound less native. Implicit knowledge is acquire so monitoring is less frequent and more organic; speakers tend to sound more native-like.

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Part 2a: When and How to Give Correct Student Errors

Error correction is definitely needed at some point in the learning process. There are several individual factors that affect the implementation of error correction including: the learner’s age, aptitude, stage in the language process, proficiency level, motivation, anxiety, metalinguistic sophistication, individual preferences, learning styles, learning strategies and previous achievement. It is essential that teachers are aware of these factors in order to improve the learning process.

Useful questions to decide whether or not to let an error go:

  • Does the mistake affect communication?

  • Are we concentrating on accuracy at the moment?

  • Why did the student make the mistake?

  • Is it the first time the student has spoken for a long time?

  • Could the student react badly to my correction?

  • Have they met this language point in the current lesson?

  • Is it something the students have already met?

  • Is this a mistake that several students are making?

  • Would the mistake irritate someone?


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Part 2b: Factors & Processes to Consider

  • Krashen’s Affective filter hypothesis

A learner's attitude towards the target language, their motivation to learn, and the amount of stress they experience impact language acquisition. A learner who is comfortable with their learning has a low “affective filter.” These learners are ready to learn and take in new input. Pressure to perform, negative emotions or past experiences can set the filter high, blocking new acquisition. According to Krashen, this may explain why a group of learners vary in their language progress, even when they are in the same environment

  • How to Apply to Dynamic Teaching:

Find out about your student’s past language learning experiences and their motivations for learning now. Be mindful of your student’s body language and show an interest in them as people, not only in their learning. Be empathetic, sincere, and flexible!

  • Krashen’s Natural Order Hypothesis

This hypothesis believes that there is a fixed sequence for language learning later in life that is similar to acquiring one’s first language as children. For example, grammatical morphemes appear to emerge in a particular order, no matter the student’s first language or other factors.


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  • How to apply to Dynamic Teaching:

When correcting errors, keep these hypotheses in mind to help you decide when to correct errors, and when to let them go until a later date.