TILA Task assessment
Languages are used in face-to-face situations but nowadays they are also used in computer-and-mobile-device mediated communication. So, it seems reasonable that the use of the foreign language should be promoted in these two contexts.
The TILA project is based on the use of telecollaboration (TC) and we believe the best way is through a task-based approach. This in turn, means that teacher and student in TC need to change –although many of the more modern approaches to the teaching of languages have already been implemented in non-virtual classrooms.
Autonomous learning is promoted by having the pupils carry out tasks and solve problems in pairs or small groups. For us it is essential to promote negotiation of meaning through participation and to enhance participation and dialogue between pupils who are geographically distant.
Tasks in TILA are divided into three phases. The pre-task phase involves explaining to one’s own pupils what they have to do and, if needed, supplying them with the vocabulary and structures they will be using. In the main phase, pupils carry out the tasks using video conferencing, virtual words, chats, etc. In the post-task phase the teacher gets and offers feedback.
The preparatory phase activates background knowledge and prepares pupils to make predictions. Those are the two basic aims of any preparatory phase in a good lesson plan and that way we help pupils to promote schemata which is an essential part of the comprehension process. At the same time, by reviewing some of the vocabulary and grammar sturctures that pupils will be using in the main phase, we are also anticipating possible problems and we are preparing learners for the actual telecollaboration session.
During the main task phase, which is when pupils actually carry out the telecollaborative activity, pupils play the main role and the teacher is a mere facilitator. This part of the task promotes autonomous learning and collaborative work.
Finally, the aim of the post-task phase is to provide pupils with feedback (on their possible linguistic, communicative and intercultural problems), but also to receive feedback from them. We are interested in finding out what things they found more interesting, what they liked least, their appreciation of the level of difficulty, their view on intercultural aspects and so on. We can use this part of the lesson as an expansion activity. We can work with the whole class by asking the pupils that took part in the exchange to report to the other members of the class or by getting them to carry out other types of activities related to the topic used in the task that involve the whole group of pupils (for instance, a writing task, a speaking activity, a reading lesson, etc.). That way, apart from consolidating what they have learnt in the two previous phases, we will also be able to raise awareness of some important intercultural aspects.
Assessement, as we all know, is an essential part of any learning process. In the case of TC is sometimes difficult to measure results, especially regarding intercultural communicative competence. It is therefore very important to design and implement special tools to assess these aspects.
Assessment can be carried out throughout the whole telecollaborative process, that is, our approach is holistic, continuous and summative. Feedback is essential for teachers, but for pupils, too.
The assessment tools we have produced in the project are designed to guide teachers and to measure results. There are six:
- Assessment interview
- Assessment portfolio
- Assessment questionnaire
- Assessment rubric
- Assessment teacher report
We are now going to briefly describe each one of them. If you want to see them in detail: see Teachers' corner > Teacher training materials > Assessment & evaluation.
- Assessment interview:
It allows teachers to gain insight into both the knowledge and attitudes of an individual pupil. The questions included in our interview are related to intercultural communicative competence as well as with telecollaboration. The interview can be conducted before the actual TC activities start, after they have finished, or both.
- Assessment portfolio:
This document includes evidence of the skills that pupils have been assessed on and can take the form of: a journal in which pupils write down instances of their progress, a collection of texts, of all sorts, that show the pupil’s communication skills in the foreign language, a series of personal comments on the telecollaboration activities.
- Assessment questionnaire:
This questionnaire is designed to find out how participants deal with intercultural communication. In it we highlight the fact that there are no wrong answers and advise participants to provide the answers that suit them best.
- Assessment rubric:
This tool allows teachers to indicate where in the Intercultural Communicative Competence spectrum the performance of a specific language learner is to be situated.
- Assessment teacher report:
This allows teachers to measure an individual pupil’s skills in the field of Intercultural Communicative Competence. In the document, the following crucial aspects of intercultural communication are focused on: tolerance of ambiguity, behavioural flexibility, communicative awareness, knowledge discovery, respect for otherness and empathy.
- Assessment teacher report (telecollaboration):
This report allows the teacher to keep track of the progress, of both the entire class and each individual pupil, in the field of intercultural communicative competence (ICC) during online telecollaboration activities.
Teachers are welcome to modify any of these tools to suit their needs or purposes.