Please note: I am very grateful for all the feedback that has been kindly been left on this post. Also, best of luck to all those taking the module one exam. It would be great to include all of these changes in a new and more accurate document for everyone to use. Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time to make all of these and the current posts will have to remain the way they are.
Heads met once again for the second installment of the DELTA Module 1 Exam seminars, this time focusing on paper 2.
Paper two is divided up as follows:
Task 1 – 20
Task 2 – 30
Task 3 – 10
Task 4 – 40
With a large chunk of marks to be gained in the fourth question, there’s no surprise in saying that a large amount of of your time will be allocated to that question. That’s not to say, however, that task 1 and 2 – 50 marks altogether – should be overlooked.
In this task candidates are given a test and a student profile. They must evaluate the test for its strengths and weaknesses according to the student’s needs. The question requires you to first identify the purpose of the test, then evaluate its effectiveness according to the learner and the situation using also concepts of reliability, washback and validity. I think it’s important to underline at this point that task 1 does not aim to test how much testing terminology you have learned. Granted, a solid grounding in the concepts of testing will give you an enormous advantage but simply regurgitating testing terminology, however correctly defined, will not get you the marks.
Here is an example question we made to show you structure of task 1
Important points to remember when approaching task 1:
Of course, all the normal rules apply: Do not pre-prepare answers and give generic and seemingly regurgitated pre-learned muck, this will not obtain marks.
- Use terminology accurately and relevantly according to the student’s needs and the purpose of the test. Keep these in mind at all times, i.e., do not discuss the test’s validity overall but in relation to the student.
- Make a student needs analysis, practice at this so that it becomes like second nature come the exam.
- Include answers that look at the style,skills, and spoken situations of the language needed to complete the task and relate it to the context in which the student will be working/studying
- Use a well-organised and clear layout, making good use of titles for point (P) and application (A) and underlining key terminology when it is used.
- State the purpose of the test!
- Do not make terminology your heading, e.g. Negative backwash
- Negative backwash is not possible if you are evaluating a diagnostic test.
- Use different applications for each point.
- Use terminology judiciously and don’t be afraid of using it in the development of a point or application.
- You must include six points, both positive and negative. The balance can be 1-5, 2-4, 3-3 although we’d advise either 2-4 or 3-3.
- Avoid using generica answers, e.g. subjective marking.
- If it is a speaking test, comment on the difficulty of the role of the interlocutor in both speaking and marking at the same time.
- Evaluate the test as a WHOLE, not each individual question.
- Do not repeat motivation, irrelevance in applications. (we repeated motivation once, whoooops).
Here is a model answer that we think demonstrates the above-mentioned points:
Disclaimer: nobody’s perfect, and neither is this answer. We are mere mortals, after all!
It would be foolhardy to say that testing terminology doesn’t play a part in this task. It does. Nevertheless, it’s the understanding of the concepts of testing and their application to the test type and the learner that will help you receive higher marks. Remember, the task is graded; 14 marks (12 for positives and negatives with point and application and 2 for terminology), which means there are 6 marks available in weighting. This question has the potential to nail down 17+ marks in the first 20 minutes of the exam.
Here is another other student profile which to use as practice for the same question:
1. Dee is a ballet dancer from Pakistan who has just moved to London and is currently in the sixth week of her semi-intensive general English course. She has been tested as a low B2 level. She has expressed that she would like to learn English to communicate better with her dance company, speak to her colleagues and friends, and to find a permanent job in the United Kingdom. Her visa requires that a mid-course report is sent to the embassy and the teacher has selected this test to fit the purpose.
As we have mentioned, testing terminology helps, so here’s an exercise with what we believe the be the key testing concepts to use in task 1.
The text for the task is reproduced below. The purpose of the material in the extract is to recycle and teach the multiword verbs targeted in exercise 4.
Identify the purpose of the exercises below in relation to the purpose of the extract as a whole.
Refer to each exercise at least once.
In this section, it is important to remember that you are required to write about the purposes of a whole piece of material. This means that firstly, you are not required to write about what the student is doing; you are writing about the purpose of the material. Secondly, you need to look at the piece of material as a whole.
Some areas in particular to focus on are as follows:
- Look at the subksills on which the extract is focusing on. E.g. reading for gist, reading for specific information.
- State the target language! Having this point clear will make the purposes easier to find, e.g. focus students’ attention on the target language, check meaning/form/pronunciation of the target language.
- Stick to the exercises included in the rubric.
- DO NOT PRODUCE GENERIC PURPOSES! E.g. to prepare students for the language in the next exercises.
- Focus on how exercises progress; link back and forward – in this way you look at the piece of material as a whole.
- Aim for around four purposes per exercise.
- Only comment on the tasks they give you in the rubric. Last year there were some tasks in the rubric that were not examined in part 1, keep an eye out for this!
Here is an example that we feel demonstrates an answer worthy of higher marks:
From our experience of doing the exam and doing these seminars, one of the main complaints candidates have made about this task is that they don’t know the language to express things in the same way under exam conditions. We might suggest that, should this be the case, you might want take some of the phrases you find here, dehydrate them and memorise them to use again, e.g.
Provides practice in X subskill of X skill
Activates procedural knowledge of X or schemata of X
Provides opportunities for X practice
Focuses learners’ attention on meaning/form/pronunciation of target language (state the target language).
Learning these does not mean remembering lots of pre-learned answers. In essence, it’s the same as pre-learning terminology for the exam. As it’s not applied, e.g. provides practice in X subskill, its use will not lose you marks. Make sure you apply it though, of course.
* many of these can be found in the examiner’s report here
Comment on six key assumptions about language learning that are evident in the exercises:
Exercise 1. p. 122
Exercise 3. p. 122
Exercise 4 p. 122
Exercise 5 p. 122
N.B. I cannot stress enough how important it is to read the rubric for this task; chances are that you will be given different activities from those present in the previous part. You do not want to find yourself half way through the task only to realise you have focused on the wrong exercises.
A few tips for this section are:
- Produce more than 6 assumptions and reasons
- Label them: Assumption (A) and Reason (R) or underline the because to flag it up to your examiner
- Underline key terminology
- Use a variety of assumptions and reasons; we strongly advise you not to repeat.
Here’s a checklist of the most common assumptions present in the materials we use:
- Learning styles
- Language in context
- Activating previous knowledge or schemata.
- Integrated focus on skills (speaking, listening, reading, writing)
Nevertheless, avoid regurgitating these at the first opportunity in the exam, even if they are present. Candidates who do well in this task demonstrate that they have looked at the material as a whole, focusing on sequencing, focusing on the increase in challenge, the methods that influence the sequence/flow.
- Does the focus on meaning come before form?
- Are students required to look at the form and meaning of the language before practising it?
- Is the focus on form explicit?
- Is the material making use of a text for language input? (text as vehicle of information)
- Is the topic controversial?
- How are the rules about language presented? What do they require students to do?
- Are the materials requiring students to use their top-down or bottom-up processing skills? When?
- Is the language presented in a holistic or atomistic way?
- What kind of tasks are supporting learners and at what stage?
Here are some sample answers we made for task 2 part b
With a high percentage of marks available for this task (40), it’s important to dedicate the right amount of time to completing it. The problem with task four is the question can require you to analyse absolutely anything, which makes it somewhat difficult to revise in the old-fashioned exam preparation method; holistic revision, anyone?
There are three areas you can focus:
- Methodologies and approaches
- Second language acquisition theories that influence these
- Teacher’s role and beliefs
A certain flexibility using the concepts and terminology for these three points will give you an edge in the task 4 section.
Here’s an example question we made:
Look at the two lesson plans below:
Comment on the principles informing the teacher’s approach, the teacher’s role and the appropriateness of the lesson in different teaching contexts.
The second lesson plan was adapted from http://www.willis-elt.co.uk/
And here are the answers:
What you might notice is that many of the answers are similar to the reasons and assumptions in task 2. This is true, and the answers you are likely to give should reflect task 2 in some way, albiet on a more ‘macro-ELT’ tangent.
For a bit of extra practice, have a think about what theories of second language acquisition are behind the following quotes:
All language – 1st or other – is socially constituted. Dogme is about foregrounding the way language is used & learned in the here-and-now.
“Native-speaker teachers – even if bilingual- cannot put themselves into the shoes of L2 speakers of English”
Without grammar, little can be conveyed; without lexis, nothing can be conveyed