The official website of educator & arts patron Jack C Richards

Improving Interview Skills

Question:

Submitted by Dr. Sunil Sagar, India

India has a large number of Engineering Colleges. Students graduating from these colleges need to face an interview at the end of their degree program for securing placement. Majority of these students come from vernacular medium and struggle to acquire proficiency in English. Teachers of English working in these engineering colleges are constantly under pressure to ensure that students begin to articulate their ideas in English so that it ensures better placement for them. As placement affects the brand image and economics of the engineering college, teachers of English have to find a way out of this in some way. However, it is not clear as yet how teachers should approach this. Since grammar translation method is still heavily used, I wonder what you would recommend for improving the proficiency of these students with respect to English. Will direct teaching of grammar solve this? Or whether it is about Input Hypothesis, wherein we provide the comprehensible input, create the environment and they ‘acquire’ the language. It would be a great help for teachers of English across India if you could shed light on this issue.

Dr. Richards responds:

If your main interest is helping students perform better on an interview, then you should focus on helping them acquire interview skills. A focus on general English, whether taught through grammar translation or any other method is not needed, but rather an ESP approach. This focuses on the language and skills they need in a particular context.

Difference Between Testing and Assessment

Question:

Submitted by Laleh Kohandel, Iran

What is the difference between Testing and Assessment?

Dr. Richards responds:

A test is one form of assessment and refers to procedures used to measure a learners’ learning at a specific point in time and often involves collecting information in numerical form. Common forms of tests are multiple choice questions and gap-fill or cloze tests. In English classes, teachers also need to assess their students’ learning to determine the effectiveness of their teaching and of the materials they use. Assessment refers to any of the procedures teachers use to do this, which may include interviews, observations, administering questionnaires and reviewing students’ work.

Assessment covers a broader range of procedures than testing and includes both formal and informal measures.