Testing in language teaching and learning is worth being cautiously taken consideration in Vietnam. Our group will just deal with two issues related to standardized tests and examiners for teaching non-major English students at tertiary education in Vietnam. Both problems and solutions will be presented respectively.
The first problem lies on the test itself. In almost every course syllabus of General English, the course objectives always include the target of developing all four language skills: Speaking, Listening, Reading and Writing. However, the final test for those courses is just to assess two or three skills or even just one written test. Furthermore, most of our universities do not have copyright of standardized test, so the test designing process is copying and compiling from different sources, which are not valid and reliable.
Secondly, examiner training has not been paid much attention in Vietnamese universities. Different oral tests have their different evaluating criteria, i.e., PET, FCE, IELTS. Also, there is no sample marking for writing examiners. Moreover, there is only one-round marking. Thus, examiner’s assessment is often subjective.
What should be done to solve these above-mentioned problems? Both human and technology can help. The first step is changing test format which can assess our students’ language proficiency. For listening test, a studio or lab can be useful for test design. The reading texts should be evaluated by software in terms of difficulty level. Voice recorder can be of great support for more objective and accurate assessment on oral tests. The second tough job is how to design and develop standardized tests. The answer is evaluating and adjusting the test after trial carefully. SPSS can be used to measure the validity and reliability of the trial test, and then a better one should be produced. Last but not least, training workshop for examiners should be held regularly. Sample video clips on sample oral tests can be evaluated separately then teachers can share their own oral assessment experience with their colleagues. Googledocs is also an useful tool for writing examiners.
To sum up, our solutions for improving testing and assessment system in Vietnamese tertiary education are just personal recommendation. Lots of effort and investment from the government, especially Project 2020 are aimed to change the situation of EFL teaching and learning step by step. Hopefully, we are part of the project success.