Teachers' use of communicative language testing techniques in selected Secondary Schools in Lusaka District

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Zulu, Joshua
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University of Zambia
The communicative approach to language teaching recommended in Zambian schools entails that communicative techniques should be used in testing the learners. This is so because the techniques used in testing learners’ and the teaching approach should be in tandem. Using the recommended approaches in language testing is important because it helps teachers to set clear objectives that relate to what should be tested and how it should be tested in the learners. This helps in regulating both the teaching and the learning processes. However, it was not known whether teachers were using communicative techniques in testing learners’ language abilities at secondary school in Lusaka district. It was against this background that this study was undertaken. The purpose of this study, therefore, was to establish whether or not teachers were using communicative testing techniques when preparing language tests. The study used a concurrent mixed method design and data was collected both quantitatively and qualitatively. The instruments used to collect data were questionnaires, interview guides, focus group discussion guides and a checklist. The target population was all the teachers of English language in Lusaka district. The sample consisted of 7 secondary schools, 31 teachers of English and 7 heads of department. The statistical package for social sciences (SPSS) and excel were used to generate graphs/charts for quantitative data while qualitative data was categorised into themes. The findings revealed that teachers were not using communicative techniques because they were not familiar with communicative techniques. Quantitative data revealed that 71% of the teachers were not familiar with communicative techniques, 10% were familiar while 19% indicated that they had average understanding about communicative testing. Most teachers said they were not familiar with communicative language testing and were not familiar with characteristics of communicative tests. Additionally, the heads of department revealed that most of them were equally not familiar with communicative testing. The end of term one tests mostly tested linguistic and not communicative competence. Learners produced less to no language at all because most of the questions were multiple choice especially for comprehension and structure. The tests were not about real-life communication. Composition v was omitted from tests at grades 10 and 11 and was rarely used at grade 12. Further, most teachers indicated that communicative testing was not attainable because teachers knew very little about it and colleges were not doing enough in terms of training. In view of these findings, the following recommendations were made; colleges of education should offer adequate training to teachers in communicative teaching and testing. Apart from that, language testing courses that will expose teachers to the recommended techniques should be developed by colleges of education. Additionally, colleges of education should come up with professional development programmes aimed at keeping in-service teachers abreast with the recommended trends.
Psychometrics , Psychological tests , Language and Languages-Ability testing