Assessing Writing Skills in a Communicative Paradigm: an Evaluation of the Ssc English Examinations in Bangladesh

Topics: Language education, Teaching English as a foreign language, Language acquisition Pages: 24 (6927 words) Published: February 15, 2013
Assessing writing skills in a communicative paradigm: An evaluation of the SSC English Examinations in Bangladesh

Md. Zulfeqar Haider
Teacher Trainer, ELTIP

Communicative Language Testing is intended to assess learners’ ability to using the target language in real life situations. Its now ten years since Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has been introduced in secondary English curriculum of Bangladesh. Therefore, the test of English at the SSC level is now facing the challenges of assessing learners’ communicative skills. This study looks at the existing model of the SSC English test and explores the possibilities of incorporating a more communicatively based test format. The study is carried out on the basis of an evaluation of the test items on writing skills set in the SSC test papers. It also explores the views of Bangladeshi secondary English teachers and internationally renowned Language Testing Experts. In this paper, it is argued that, though secondary English education in Bangladesh has stepped into a communicative era ten years back, the current SSC test is not in accordance with the curriculum objectives. It is found that the test items on writing lack both validity and reliability. Suggestions made for improving the current SSC test include: defining the purpose of communication in English for SSC level learners, drafting test specifications, setting test items which are more relevant to a communicative purpose, and developing a marking scheme to mark the subjective items.

Assessing writing skills in a communicative paradigm: An evaluation of the SSC English Examinations in Bangladesh

Md. Zulfeqar Haider Teacher Trainer ELTIP

The concept of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) has had much influence in the fields of English language teaching, curriculum and test design. Since the 1970s, there have been considerable developments in the area of language testing. Various theories and practical testing models have evolved following the concept of communicative competence. Bangladesh has introduced a communicative English curriculum at its secondary education sector. However, the aims and objectives of the communicative curriculum can never be achieved without a testing system that assesses the communicative ability of learners. This paper looks at the existing Secondary School Certificate (SSC) English examination to identify the elements of communicative testing in it and examines the suitability of this testing system to the curriculum goals. The study involves a critical analysis of the current SSC test. It also explores the views of Bangladeshi secondary English teachers and two internationally renowned language testing experts on the SSC test and investigates the ways of making it more communicatively based.

Background of English Language Teaching (ELT) in Bangladesh
The teaching of English in Bangladesh has a long history that traces back to the colonial era. However, the British models of teaching English continued to influence the ELT scenario of post-colonial Bengal even after the colonial rule was over in 1947. Since then the grammar translation method continued to influence the ELT scenario as the most dominant teaching method in the Indian subcontinent. After the independence of Bangladesh (1971), several attempts were made to re-design ELT sector with little or no success.

In 1990, a four year ELT project called Orientation of Secondary School Teachers for Teaching English in Bangladesh (OSSTTEB) was jointly launched by the Government of Bangladesh and DFID, UK to improve English Language Teaching and Learning at secondary level. This project revised, adapted and...
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