Exciting, new twist to English tests

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 March, 2000, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 March, 2000, 12:00am

A group of students gained more confidence in the use of English after taking part in a fun-packed programme of tests.

Students who finished the British Council's Cambridge Young Learners English Tests received their certificates at a presentation ceremony during which they were again put to the test.

At the beginning of the ceremony, John Fry, deputy director of the council's English Language Centre, asked the students to follow his instructions.

'Put your hands on your heads . . . Stand up, sit down!' 'Scratch your heads! Touch your toes!' Mr Fry said.

The instructions aimed to test their English listening skills and only those who could follow his instructions were given gifts.

Mr Fry then used a game to test their English comprehension.

'I'm a machine. I can fly. I have no wings. What am I?' Mr Fry asked.

'A helicopter!' shouted out one students correctly and he was rewarded a prize.

The final game had both parents and students scrambling under their seats to retrieve pieces of paper.

Each sheet had a letter on it and the students were asked to get on stage and arrange the letters to form a word.

The letters L, E, H, O, A, T and C were arranged into 'chocolate' and U, A, L, M, B, R, L and E were arranged to form 'umbrella'.

Mr Fry said using a fun and interactive approach to teaching was a more effective way of learning English.

'We believe that children are motivated to learn when the learning environment is fun and informal, so the tests are set in this way.

'The tests are not traditional grammar tests and they test children's ability to use English,' he said.

The test moni tors three levels of skills in children aged seven to 12.

The Starter, the Movers and the Flyers each consists of three sections: listening, reading and writing and speaking. The tests take between 45 and 70 minutes, depending on the level.

'Parents' feedback has been very positive,' Mr Fry said.

'They seem to be happy to discover that their children have made progress in their English - and that it has not been a painful process.' Wong Wing-yin took the Movers level tests and got full marks in reading and writing and speaking.

'I really enjoy my English being tested in a lively way because I was not nervous and performed much better in the test because there was no pressure on me,' she said.

Her father said he had noticed a great improvement in his daughter's English.

'I support children learning language in a fun and interactive way.

'With no pressure on them, they are more confident. I have seen that with my own eyes,' he said.

The students are graded on their reading and writing skills as well as their listening and speaking ability.

Mr Fry said open test sessions were held throughout the year and special sessions could be organised for school groups if they requested it.

Schools such as Maryknoll Convent School Primary Section, Kei Wan Primary School, Tai Nga Primary School and St Stephen's Girls' Primary School take part in these sessions.

For information on the tests, call 2913-5174 or visit the Web site at http//www: britcoun.org.hk