Assessment for learning in modern foreign languages: an investigation into strategies to develop pupils' abilities in speaking and writing with special reference to pupils' study of French at KS4.
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This action research project is concerned with Modern Foreign Language teaching and "Assessment for Learning". The first aim of the research sets out to establish which of the four skills of listening, speaking, reading and writing are the most difficult to master. This is achieved through survey of student opinion and an analysis of examination results, drawing the conclusion that speaking and writing are the key areas where students encounter the most problems. The literature review examines the nature and general aims of assessment, finishing with a consideration of what is meant by "Assessment for Learning": a type of formative assessment which is designed specifically to empower students and promote learning. It involves a focus on the processes of learning; with learners having ownership of their learning and an understdnding of the goals for which they are aiming. It is about teacher and student interaction and using feedback to modify the teaching and learning that goes on in the classroom. "Assessment for Learning" literature revealed some interesting strategies among which I focused on "using comments not marks to feedback" and "peer and self assessment of learning, because I felt they would have very real potential to address issues of learning in speaking and writing. The investigation lasted some eight months with a main group of thirty students. During that time various activities were used to make students think about what they were learning, how they were learning and what more they needed to do to improve their learning. In short, we talked about learning a modern foreign language using mother tongue, with the specific aim to improve their potential for using the target language. The activities were well received and feedback from students was gathered by means of questionnaires and interviews. The conclusions reveal that "Assessment for Learning" and the metacognitive approach, albeit in mother tongue, do have a very positive effect on achievement in both speaking and writing in the target language.
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