Test Taking Skills and English Language Learners
The road to becoming proficient in speaking the English language can be a vibrant and life-giving experience. Bilingual learners are typically exposed to a myriad of creative learning opportunities that include theatre, music, cooking, comedy, books, videos, games and social projects. However, much of this acquisition is informed by regular examinations and proficiency tests. This has the potential to be the source of much frustration and anxiety. Students who are expected to participate in this endeavor can find themselves in a place of vulnerability and apprehension. Likewise, this anticipation is felt by parents who feel helpless about testing results. Understanding how to prepare for testing events and how to process the results are key steps toward feeling confident about the task.
Did you know that bilingual learners are more aptly disposed to take tests?
Studies have shown that those who are learning to speak more than one language demonstrate a higher level of performance across all subject areas. According to the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, these students will also score significantly higher on standardized tests than their monolingual peers due to the neural pathways their brains have established. This is encouraging data since standardized testing is a reality of higher education and most career paths!
Good test takers know that the best preparation is an interweaving of the material in everyday life. ELPAC holistically tests in the areas of reading, speaking, listening and writing. Proficiency in academic language is an important area of focus since it is more descriptive and formal than conversational English. In addition, parents ought to emphasize literacy skills. This will increase the learner’s exposure to academic language and integrate actual concepts and questions they will see on the test.
Parent Today provides some fantastic tips to bring your English learner more confidence in a testing situation:
- Use the language as much as you can at home and in everyday routines.
- Attend events where the language is reinforced in authentic social situations.
- Collect multimedia, books, and music to support acquisition in creative ways.
- Use repetitive strategies and differentiate the ways they are being learned.
- Try to learn in shorter blocks of time more often, rather than cramming in a lot of information in a session.
Reviewing the results is almost as important as preparing for them! If given the opportunity, reflect on the questions that fell flat in an effort to address knowledge gaps. Determine what techniques might be helpful, and plan for how they will approach the next test. If the results aren’t what you were hoping for, celebrate that every test is a learning experience and an opportunity to improve. It is meaningful enough that the child is engaged in the process at all. Every experience truly contributes to the growth and future excellence; test-taking is a key part of the journey!
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