Saturday, March 22, 2008
The fun part about teaching this iBT preparation class is the multi-cultural composition of our group and the fact that we cover four language skills. It means that Monday/Wednesday/Friday afternoons are devoted to a mix of reading, listening, speaking and writing activities. Though at least one student suggested that I follow a schedule, such as 'Fridays are for writing practice,' I purposely don't follow such a fixed routine. Because we do not give grades at our school, one way that I can ensure that I get writing or speaking samples from every student is to spring it on them. In the past, when students knew that on Fridays, they would have to write for a half-hour online, they would often be absent.
Currently, I'm experimenting between online writing and paper/pencil writing to see if fewer spelling errors are generated this way. I've discovered that several students are not skilled typists. Thus, it is hard to tell if their errors are primarily an outcome of typing mistakes or if they need help learning how to spell words correctly.
I am a strong typist, so I think it's a great idea to have an internet-based TOEFL. However, I now understand why some students feel handicapped having to do the TOEFL test online, especially the hour-long writing component. I've queried Cambridge students about the idea of doing Paper 2 (Writing) online, and many of them also said they'd be at a disadvantage because of their poor typing skills.