Full Play FOR THE Positive Backwash Effect

Abstract: "Backwash" has usually been identified in terms of the effect of assessment on language coaching and learning. "Backwash can be damaging or beneficial", as Arthur Hughes expresses. (Hughes: 1989) This newspaper attempt to see how very good this term can be applied to the ways in which both the students and teachers can reap the benefits of language screening.

Key words: positive backwash beneficial tests determination validity and reliability

I. The Backwash Effect and the Learners

In language learning, two conditions are often brought up, "instrumental motivation and integrative motivation". Instrumental drive refers to the power value of the terms itself---the effectiveness of English as an instrument in learning, business or international communication. Screening process instrumental motivation---candidates usually take test to help expand their educational or job prospects. In the event the screening brings the positive backwash result into full play, it will motivate the candidates to learn better after they know what they have got achieved and what they need to catch up with. But if the result of the testing is merely given as 'move', 'fail', or a mark, the prospects will surely be demotivated---they do not know very well what they have to remedy. Another serious situation is that the tests are set by outside bodies which set up their own syllabuses, benchmarks and criteria---the terminology learners are trained some skills which are essential for their future learning but the lab tests do not provide the equivalent item to measure the learners' ability. That is ---the degree to which the learning required for the assessment is apparently relevant to classroom learning or the need of the learner has been limited. As Hughes described, "In case a test is undoubtedly important then preparation for it will come to dominate all coaching and learning activities"---learners are misled to pressure every nerve to get by it. Which thus impede the normal collection in both learning and instructing?

II. The Backwash Impact and the Teachers

All teachers are motivated by the assessment and angle their teaching to what is being tested. Because they consider: "Motivation of the students is one of the main factors influencing their success or failure in learning the language". (McDonough, 1986) In addition they consider that the affect that the tests has on teaching is either positive or negative. The negative backwash effect may very well be very best where teachers are inexperienced or lack of confidence. In case the teachers do not know how to educate under the binding power of the screening, nor know well to build up the materials organized in line with the subject matter, the teachers will be de-motivated and puzzle over the direction which they should mind for. If the teachers learn how to make the screening an impetus to market their future teaching, by recognition with the other teachers outside the college they know what success they have got made. It'll even drive them to place double effort into the future job. Therefore, it's important that trials should reflect the abilities and techniques of the intensifying language teachers and make better use of the screening to encourage teachers in their training. The greater positive backwash effect, the more teachers are likely to be determined by the trials.

III. The Development in the Testing

In recent years, with the introduction of the training jobs, the research in this field is coming to the improvement. Instrumental inspiration in language assessment has been retained (learning is still linked to promoting, enrolling and earning) but screening is attained an "integrative" aspect. So many changes occurring in the evaluation have been added to this sizing:

1. An alteration in the actual theory of language learning.

2. A big change in the methods to language teaching.

3. A big change in the purposes or trials.

4. A change in the criterion for analyzing a language screening.

5. A change in the screening concerning all the areas of language coaching.

When we arranged language exams, do we really test the individuals' language ability? Are we really attempting to test what can permit candidates to employ a vocabulary effectively? Language teachers we've been told, when act as a tester, must nervous about a whole number of different validity and stability factors. Certainly, in dialect testing as much as somewhere else, validity and consistency are essential. But a valid and reliable test is of little use if it does not prove to be a useful one as Weir mentioned, "This calls for questions of current economic climate, ease of administration, scoring and interpretation of results. The much longer it takes to create, administer and score, and the more skilled staff and equipment that are participating, the higher the expenses are likely to be. "(1990) Just how to achieve sufficient reliability assessments, how to enhance validity of the evaluation and steps to make the lab tests more practical have become dialect teachers' major matter.

IV. Functional Concerns in Evaluating Tests

"Checks are method of gathering information. They may be constructed according to certain conditions which are intended to safeguard the quality of these details. " as Nunan once said, and it is not hard to attain the arrangement that the teachers should test what they might need the learners to do. Nunan. D also said, "It is important that, in the look, implementation, and evaluation of a given curriculum, all elements be inter-grated, so that decisions made at one level aren't in conflict with those made at another. For instance, in courses predicated on rules of communicative terms teaching, it is important that these key points are shown, not only in curriculum documents and syllabus plans, but also in classroom activities, patterns of classroom connections and in assessments of communicative performance. " (Nunan, 1987)

In China a criterion-referenced test which is named TEM 8 (Test for English Majors Quality Eight) is talked about here for all of us to examine and discuss at length whether this test can achieve beneficial backwash and how we can improve the backwash effect of the test. Regarding to Hughes, there are eight making our ideal into realities:

1. Test the skills whose development you want to encourage.

2. Sample generally and unpredictably.

3. Use immediate testing.

4. Make evaluation criterion referenced.

5. Base success tests on objectives.

6. Ensure test is well known and known by students and teachers.

7. Where necessary, provide assist with teachers.

8. Count the price.

Let's look at the diagram below which collates the difference between the syllabus suitable for Language teaching which designed for checks (TEM8)

Syllabus created for language teaching

Syllabus designed for test TEM 8



To understand VOA and BBC program from on -the -area reporting pertaining to about the politics, current economic climate, culture and education technology, etc.


1. To comprehend a myriad of English talk and conversation, or interview, or special topic debate on the communicative occasion.


According to the editors Messina and Feng Qinghua, the practice test chosen here's entirely based on the teaching syllabus of English major and TEM8 syllabus in higher education. From diagram, we can pull a realization that the TEM8 test is actually based on the basic principle that language should be test just as as it is educated.

The listening process is split into two parts. The ex - part includes: (1) discussion; (2) chat; (3) reports broadcast. You will find fifteen multiple-choice questions as a whole. The latter part contained: (1) note-taking; (2) gap-filling.

In writer's opinion the structure of the test accords with Weir's theory. The benefits of employing multiple-choice format essentially are that scoring can be properly reliable and scoring can be rapid and economical.

The good thing about not employing multiple-choice format largely is the fact that it prevents the learners from getting the harmful backwash. Hughes also offers a comment on it: "It will hardly be essential to explain that where a test which is important to students is multiple choices in nature, there's a danger that practice for the test will have a harmful effect on learning and educating. Practice at multiple choice items (especially when, as happens, all the attention is paid to enhancing one's educated guessing regarding the content of the items) will not usually be the best way for students to improve their command of any terms. " (Hughes, 1989)

For the note-taking, as we have no listening taking of the test at hand, however, having carefully examined the tape-script and the main element answers to it, we notice that although the test focuses on if the students have obtained the rub that was intended to, the materials is not spoken test. In true to life situation, the listeners mostly have contextual signs to help in understanding, it is extremely difficult for students to backtrack and give attention to very specific feature of discourse while hearing and wanting to understand a non-interactive, continuous monologue. (Weir, 1990) Therefore, conserving the spoken wording should maintain the tester's awareness.

In "TAKE NOTE" compiled by Michael Berman, he points out that the note-taking materials should be well suited for the analysis of styles and registers in modern day English; through the process of being attentive, it is very important to be possibly assisted by questions from the speaker and the applicants should be motivated to create in their own words, to centralize on elements of major importance and use key term abbreviations or icons; they should be reminded that there surely is almost never time or need for immediate quotation. " (Berman, 1980) Look at the criterion of the scoring and the main element to the be aware taking of the test; it generally does not have this try out. Should it be increased later on? It is still a question as far as the beneficial backwash concerns.

Having consulted the sources of the reading materials of the test, they have emerged that local speakers wrote all of them. It is in accordance with Hughes' theory that the immediate testing signifies the tests of performance skills, with text messages and jobs as authentic as is possible. (Hughes, 1989) So a very important factor also deserves our attention, that is, both syllabuses in above diagrams are generally arranged for the necessity of the learners. The likely results is the fact much preparation for the test will be limited by it. The positive backwash effect will be hence in full play.

V. Conclusion

As Hughes says that the ultimate way to test people's writing capability is to encourage them to write. Hughes makes further his theory by saying that (1) We have to set writing tasks that are properly representative of the populace of tasks that we should expect the students to be able to perform. (2) The jobs should elicit samples of writing which truly symbolize the students' potential. (3) It is vital that the samples of writing can and will be scored reliably. TEM8 test is basically based on this theory. Only once we fully realized that the students and the ones responsible for teaching know and know very well what the test needs of them, and the test items made available to everyone worried about preparation for it, the test can increase its reliability. (Hughes, 1989)

Different attitudes and methods to syllabus design and testing can be placed on a continuum. (Hu, 1988) Checks exist to enable learners to make retrospective statements about the effectiveness of learning. If we are really trying to test what it is that allows a person to sue a words effectively, as a language teacher we must take into account a multiplicity of factors that involved in the testing. Thus the coaching was tied very closely, right from the start, to learners' real needs. A test made to meet these needs. A test designed to test effectively both terminology knowledge and terms skills. The most important of all is that it has been possible for the authorities to apply TEM for about three years, then your test can be further developed into a more gratifying one predicated on the linguistic fundamental requirements and the test can create more positives for the learners. It really is up to us ---words instructors' future work.

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