How do you place more literate students?
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Once you find out that you have a group of students somewhat literate in English, then you may need to evaluate their literacy level. There are a number of ways to do this. You may want to administer a cloze procedure, or a dictation test.
A CLOZE TEST
One test that has proven successful in determining written English ability is the cloze test. This test consists of a written passage that has missing words. The student is asked to supply the missing words.
Choose a passage of 100-150 words from the text that you commonly use for beginners in your classroom. Try to get a passage that does not use many uncommon words or many proper nouns (names of specific people, places, etc.). A paragraph from the Reader's Digest or a 7th or 8th grade textbook might be appropriate if you choose an article that deals with a subject most adults would be acquainted with. Leave the first sentence of the passage as it is, but eliminate every seventh word in the rest of the passage and put a blank of standard length wherever a word is eliminated. Put a number in each blank. (See Appendix B for an example.)
Have students read the entire passage silently without writing anything. Then have them read the passage again and write a word by each number on their paper that would be appropriate for the blank with that number. After they have done this, they read the passage again to themselves with the words they have chosen and then hand in their papers. When you correct these papers, give one point for every word that the student supplies that is identical to the missing word from the original passage. Other words may seem appropriate to you, but experiments have shown that your placement will be essentially the same if you only accept the original word. Scores should be computed and the students divided into groups according to scores. Those with low scores would form the beginning group. Those with perfect or nearly perfect scores should be screened out to form a more advanced class.
A DICTATION TEST
Choose a passage of about 100 words from a commonly used text in your classroom. Tell your students to listen carefully. Read the passage out loud to them at a normal speaking rate to give them an overview of the passage. After this first reading, let students ask questions about the passage and write one or two of the most unfamiliar words on the board. Now, tell your students to write what you read. Tell them that you will read slowly, but that you will not repeat anything. Read the passage again pausing every 5-9 words (at places for normal speech pauses, such as at the end of phrases) so the students have time to write. Do not repeat any phrases. Finally, read the passage a third time at a normal speed and have the students make any corrections or additions they desire and then have them turn in their papers. To score the papers, simply put a check for every word left out, every error in grammar. Count the number of checks and give the paper that score. You can then divide the class according to scores. Those with the most checks would be in the beginning group. Those with fewer checks would be in the intermediate group. Any with very few or no errors would be in an advanced group. (Quite often you will discover that the students fall very naturally into groups.) If you are offering more than one class, you can divide the students into separate classes. If not, you can simply use the scores to help you make grouping choices within the same class. (This does not always mean that you automatically put the beginners with beginners and the advanced with advanced. It is often to the advantage of all to have mixed groups of higher and lower ability students.)