Wednesday, December 23, 2015

the "language obstacle course"

Even though we've hired someone to replace my coworker at the Golden Goose (the new guy starts the first week of January), we're still interviewing people, much to the annoyance of my boss, who feels we don't need to expand the current cast of characters. (We're getting pressure from HR to keep interviewing; this gives you a hint of our internal politics, I think.) Because the boss isn't keen on hiring anyone, he asked me to devise a language test, which I joshingly (then more seriously) dubbed a "language obstacle course." I made the test with proofreaders in mind. Unlike the old SAT Writing section, with its focus on grammar in context, my test also includes questions to see whether the testee actually knows grammatical terminology.

Take a look. And if you see ways that the test can be improved, feel free to leave a comment.

A few remarks about the document:

1. I hate multiple-choice testing, but I used the format, anyway. Yes, I am a whore.

2. The third page of the test was my boss's idea. It's a measure of how well the testee can perform a task that we actually do as part of our textbook content creation. Personally, I think the exercise is too easy, but the boss wanted it in there, and I am but to serve.

3. If you want to give the test a whirl, please submit your answers to me, and I'll score you, after which I'll provide you a link to the answer key itself. (My email address has always been on my right-hand sidebar. Just scroll down a bit.) I don't feel like linking to it here.

4. The answer key that I made is mainly for my boss's benefit, so that he doesn't have to reason his way through every problem on the "obstacle course" unless he wants to. It doesn't contain any explanations, but I can supply those via email if you want.

5. I designed the "obstacle course" to be rigorous, but not impossible. I've set "minimal pass" at 80%; if a testee scores 95% or above, I'll be impressed. Most English teachers in Korea have no idea about grammatical terminology or why the language works the way it does; they often tend to wing it, moving on intuitive feel and justifying their teaching "method" with some vague excuse related to "teaching language in context." The Korean impression that many native-speaker English teachers are incompetent when it comes to technical aspects of English is, alas, largely correct.