Exam, Assessment, Anxiety

Robert Märcz

Exams, including language exams as well, are part of every students’ life. Regardless of whether there is a language exam at the end of their studies, students are required to reach a certain level of proficiency in the language they are studying. Being aware of what exactly they need to know – to pass a language exam or to get a good grade – can significantly improve their motivation to study and the effectiveness of their learning. This awareness or knowledge refers to two separate fields:

  1. knowing what content knowledge, skills and competencies are called for, and
  2. knowing the ways how to reach these goals.

Regarding the first field, i.e. language learning, it is the CEFR which guides teachers (and learners) in getting to know the different reference levels and helps them set goals to be achieved. The other field, however, is in the hands of the teachers, as it is the quality of their teaching methods which can make a difference.

Anxiety is inevitably connected to learning and taking exams. Researchers have found that speaking in a foreign language produces a high level of anxiety because a language learner may not be able to express himself clearly, which then leads to a decrease in his confidence and an increased level of anxiety. If the anxiety a learner experiences reaches a certain threshold it can make learning less effective.

The workshop, presenting concrete examples, treats the various ways of involving the methods of formative assessment in teaching a foreign language. It is discussed how the application of formative assessment tools – “assessment for learning” – can reduce the level of anxiety learners may feel, and help clarify the goals to be reached.

The findings of FAB Erasmus project will provide a background to understanding.