How can portfolio assessment develop English language teaching?
By Ream Odetallah

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Which is a better way to evaluate English teaching?
  • 1. Assessments
  • 2. Evaluations

An assessment is a tool used for grading students objectively, and the types of assessments implemented vary concretely to obtain certain goals that a teacher has set during the learning process as part of language development. To create optional assessments targeted for a certain class or group of students, there are rubrics that must be followed, and these rubrics shape the forms of evaluations.

Unlike assessments, evaluations are not scientific applications; they are actually a subjective means of testing students that depend on the accuracy of the evaluator's or the teacher's successive conducts. Moreover, it is quite impossible to conduct an end-of-a-scholastic-term or end-of-a-course assessment without having generally evaluated the students genuinely, otherwise the results would expectedly be disappointing.

Many factors affect how evaluations should be performed in an English language classroom, such as the students' cultural backgrounds, the teacher's teaching methods, the level of the students and their learning abilities. An evaluation is a prolonged process that requires patience, accurate observations and sincere results that show a decline or a progress in a certain language area to apply proper recovery plans and rubrics. Therefore, evaluations are the back-up for assessments, and they identify what assessments should be conducted and finalize how the summative assessments should be conducted.

The topic on assessments and evaluations does not end here. In fact, scientific research summons upon years of experiences in teaching the language, planning and conducting exams as well as reviewing the final results from the groups of students assessed throughout one's teaching career.

Moreover, pragmatic practices in different educational bodies add up to the identification of a teacher's philosophy in teaching. In other words, there is no end in teaching the English language. In testing, on the contrary, a teacher advances in the line of education and concretes the philosophies into classroom practices.

Ream Odetallah was born in Kuwait in 1977. She completed her education in Jordan with a master's degree in English language and literature. She is currently an English language instructor at Al Ain University of Science and Technology in United Arab Emirates.