Formative Assessment for Asking Questions in World Languages and ESL

Speaker and Listener with Formative Feedback

World Language teachers (Spanish, French, Germany, Chinese, Italian, etc.) and ESL teachers want their students to become fluent in the language. However, often they have no easy way to measure the students’ fluency nor the time to listen to each student. A solution is to have students practice in groups of two with their partner providing some formative feedback according to a checklist or collection form.

1. A student is to ask ten questions about a picture in a minute while her/his partner counts the questions. At the end of a minute, the partner gives feedback to the speaker such as “You asked nine questions. What else could you ask about …..? The partner points to a place, object or person that the speaker did not ask a question about.

2. A student is to ask all the question words about the picture. Her/his partner checks off each question word on the list as the partner says it. At the end of a minute, the partner gives the feedback such as “You used all the question words.” or “You used all the question words except Why? What is a Why question for this picture?”

3. A student is to ask and answer all the question words for a picture. His /her partner checks off each question word on the question column and checks off the answer-the-question column. At the end of the minute, the partner gives the feedback such as ” You asked and answered 4 questions. You did answer the question “When..” but what other answers are possible for that question?”

4. A student is to ask complex questions about a picture such as “What color is the table that is next to the door?” or “How many people who are standing have red shirts?” within a minute. Her/his partner checks off the question word column and the complex sentence column and gives feedback such as “You said four complex sentences about the picture. One question ‘Where is the girl?’ was not a complex question. How could you make it one? or “I did not understand your question about the food, could you please say it again?”

5. A student and his/her partner have a conversation about a visual. The first student is a reporter and the second student is a person in the visual. The second student jots down a slash for each question that the reporter asks and one for each answer he/she responds to. At the end of the minute, the non-reporter reports back on how many questions were asked and answered. The two students brainstorm how they could generate more meaningful questions about the visual. Then they do the same activities, after switching roles, for another visual.

How else can students give each other formative feedback on their speaking? Please share your additional ideas on how students give each other formative feedback in your subject area. I’m writing a book and would like more examples than the ones I generate.

(My 365th blog)

Harry Grover Tuttle©2007

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1 Response to “Formative Assessment for Asking Questions in World Languages and ESL”


  1. 1 vernice January 8, 2011 at 6:28 pm

    loved your ideas !
    have you published your book?
    i teach french and spanish
    thanks


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