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What do you do to prepare your EFL students for state or standardised English tests?

Diary submitted by Julia A, Erasmus+ internship in Valencia

Through the language school at the which I was interning I quickly realised that the most important thing for students when preparing for a standardised English test when they are at B and C1 level is practice! This seems obvious but to me it seems the most important thing. They have to prepare for tests with 4 areas which are common for language learning: speaking, reading, writing, and listening and I found that the classes in which they had to practice through these mock tests were showing great results through steady improvement. This Is because three main reasons.

    Within these 4 areas of language study, taking the tests as practice reveals the ones in which they are struggling the most and the ones which they have under control. A student can be very comfortable with speaking out loud and doing dialogues and monologues, but can have a tougher time with the listening, and so on. In my opinion this helps the teacher to identify the abilities of the student (which at level B2-C1 are more specific than at earlier stages of learning). Revealing where the student needs to improve the most is crucial and the student can therefore go to more classes which deal with that and focus on improving. Without practice there is no improvement!

    The mock tests help the student to feel more comfortable with the format and the questions which can appear on the real test. Understanding the structure of the exams is key to perform well and to be prepared. In fact, the students which had come to the most practice tests were visibly more comfortable with the process and could even help others in the corrections. Standardized tests have very clear parts which have clear goals in mind and being familiar with the questions and topics definitely puts a student a step ahead. It can also help reduce anxiety if students are not comfortable in an exam setting. 

    Lastly, the correction of these mock exams is also very important and really produces all round learning. In some particular cases I have seen that it can knock down a student’s confidence, but that is when the role of the teacher comes in to encourage and to help out how they can. It produces all round learning because the corrections reveal questions about grammar, syntax, vocabulary structure, and use of English.

    Therefore, practicing the mock tests and correcting them is a key aspect of teaching that I have learned from my language school. It was hard to adapt initially as the questions that would come up could literally be on anything, but once I got the hang of it I really started to notice the great benefits that it brings to a student.

Bibliography:

-“Language Practice Is Necessary- Discover How to Do It Effectively.” Strategies in Language

Learning, 18 Apr. 2019, www.strategiesinlanguagelearning.com/language-practice/.

-Testbook.com. “Why Take Mock Tests before the Final Exam?” Testbook Blog, Testbook.com, 22

Jan. 2019, testbook.com/blog/why-take-mock-tests-before-the-final-exam/.

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