Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Simulating the iBT (TOEFL) with limited technology

I'm teaching the iBT TOEFL course again. When I taught at UCSD's English Language Institute, I handled one of the two classes that covered the Listening and Speaking portion of the test. The university has a great language laboratory which allows instructors to simulate test conditions for these two parts of the iBT. Since I'm at a private language school now, I need to be more inventive and creative in simulating the iBT since we lack the space for a dedicated computer lab.

One of the challenges and pleasures of having a wiki is finding ways for my students to use it profitably. Since our computers (9) are not equipped with the expensive software of the university and we don't have a staff of computer techs to handle any glitches, I am having my students do one part of a writing test online, using my wikispace. To see some of their products, you can click here. Each student has his/her own page that (s)he can add to or correct as (s)he likes. Since the students' work is public, I've suggested that they make editing changes and corrections. That seemed to get their attention, but I'm waiting to see if they will correct themselves online.

In the future, I will try to load our computers with Audacity and purchase some headphones with mics so that iBT students can do online recordings. However, at present, I plan to record test-takers with a regular tape recorder or my digital hand-held recorder. The advantage of the digital recorder is that a student can see the seconds going by and know when to stop. This method would approximate the online experience. We'll see....

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