English Preterit and Perfect
Testing Techniques
Boryana T. Ruzhekova Rogozherova,
Todor Kableshkov Higher School of Transport, Chair of
Humanities and Languages, Sofia
Summary:
 The
article treats some general issues
related to the importance of language
testing, types of tests, criteria testing
materials should correspond to as well as
more specific topics as to particularities and
implementation of English preterit and
perfect new testing techniques. Suggested
innovative procedures concern the use of
graphs, pictures, poetry, fiction texts, storytelling, text elicitation and editing.
Importance of testing 1
 In
Introducing Applied Linguistics
Corder regards tests as “ measuring
instruments” as they “are designed to
measure the learner’s “knowledge”,
or “competence in” the language at a
particular moment in his course …”.
Importance of testing 2
 However,
tests supply much more
information to specialists assessing
the “relationship between the
teaching materials and their
exploitation, and language learning.”
(ibid.)
Importance of testing 3
 Tests
provide information as to teaching /
learning styles; learning / acquisition
problems; learners’ personal
characteristics (background knowledge,
qualifications, age, sex, native as well as
other previously or simultaneously studied
language(s), interference or interlanguage,
emotionality, etc.) relation to curricula,
teaching techniques and lecturers’
professional knowledge and skills.
Importance of testing 4
 Tests
can be also used as a teaching
tool due to relevant feed back,
explanation and remedial work, on
the one hand (they can be
implemented at final grammar
teaching stages), and on the other,
test materials can “teach” in the very
process of sitting the test.
Types of tests

Tests (Cohen, A. 1979: 332,333) fall into
the following main categories: prognostic
tests (aptitude tests and placement tests),
evaluation of attainment tests, normreferenced, criterion-referenced, listening,
reading, speaking, writing, fluency,
accuracy, different age groups,different
ethnic or language groups, fixed format,
structured format, phonology, grammar,
vocabulary, pragmatics, mechanics,
stylistics.
Criteria testing materials should
correspond to
 Bachman
and Palmer (2004: 9)
define tests in terms of their
usefulness, “consisting of several
qualities (reliability, construct
validity, authenticity,
interactiveness, impact and
practicality)”.
Taking into account grammatical
features of tested categories
– crucial in test design
 Grammar
features analysis + error
prediction (see Ruzhekova
Rogozherova’s articles on contrastive
teaching), interlanguage analysis
determine types of test tasks,
number, sequence, resources and
scoring of activities.
English preterit – basic temporal
characteristics
→ lack of current relevance,
single or a series of non-current
relevant event(s) = narration;
sometimes simultaneous, nonchronologically presented events, all
entirely pertaining to the past
 deicticity
English preterit – basic
aspectual characteristics
 inchoativity
– beginning of a finished
process
 duration – length of a finished process
 repetition – repeated finished process
 punctuality – punctual finished process
 termination – end of a finished process
English perfect– basic aspectual
characteristics
 perfect
of result,
 of an activity with explicitly marked or
understood beginning continuing up to the
present = “correlation deicticity” (term of
ours),
 omnitemporal, not-yet – perfect,
 of experience,
 superlative,
 of a recent activity
Innovative suggestions for
preterit and perfect test items
(partially inspired by Celce-Murcia, M. and
Hilles, J. 1988 and Strutt, P. 2000-the graph)
1. Story telling
 Story telling – tests preterit’s
characteristic narrative use,
 Story telling - sharing experiences +
expressing opinions + commenting
results of activities and achievements
– tests perfect meanings.
2. Pictures use
 A sequence
of presenting consecutive
or jumbled activities images could
represent the basis of a written
account, thus testing preterit use.
 Pictures presenting changes, results
or acquisition naturally test perfect
use.
3. Charts, tables and graphs use
 Preparing
a CV - describing
consecutive employments and
fulfilled duties during a fixed
period tests the preterit.
 Preparing a CV - describing
acquired knowledge and
experience so far tests the perfect.
Using a CV
Education,
years, start
from the
most recent
Employment, Duties
years, start
from the
most recent
Acquired
knowledge
and
experience
so far
Marketing
General
research,
and
plans,
specialized
promotions, knowledge
advertising in…
Foreign
Research,
languages
sales
at
levels…
planning
1995-1999PhD in
accountancy
and trading
Advertising
and sales
manager,
Bosh, 20022007
Business
School,
1989-1994
1999-2002sales
manager,…
Price changes of zinc
1750
1700
Price by tonne [$]
1650
1600
1550
1500
1450
1400
1350
1300
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
Month
8
9
10
11
12
now
4. Poetry or fiction texts use
 A poem
or a fiction text could be typed
leaving blank spaces at some verb forms’
positions. However, we should not
“deprive” test takers of all preterit and
perfect forms; we should pick up some to
remain in the purpose of making context
more evident.
 Test takers are asked to fill in the blanks;
suggestions are discussed and motivated.
The Road Not Taken 1 (Text
selected by Celce-Murcia and Hilles 1988 )
 Two
roads ……………….. in a yellow
wood,
 And sorry I …………….not travel both
 And be one traveler, long I
………………
 And looked down one as far as I could
 To where it ………………in the
undergrowth;
The Road Not Taken 2
 Then
………….. the other, as just as
fair,
 And having perhaps the better claim,
 Because it ……….. grassy and
wanted wear;
 Though as for that the passing there
 Had worn them really about the same,
The Road Not Taken 3
 And
both that morning equally
…………..
 In leaves no step had trodden black.
 Oh, I ………… the first for another
day!
 Yet, knowing how way leads on to
way,
 I ……………. if I should ever come
back.
The Road Not Taken 4
I
shall be telling this with a sigh
 Somewhere ages and ages hence:
 Two diverged in a wood, and I –
 I ………… the one less traveled by,
 And that has made all the difference.
Robert Frost
5. Text manipulation
 Test
takers will have to transform a
written in the present simple text into
the preterit and introduce slight
contextual changes if grammar
context requires it.
 Slager (1973 in: Celce-Murcia and
Hilles 1988) suggest ordering random
presented sentences belonging to a
paragraph in the purpose of forming a
sensible sequence.
6. Text elicitation
 This
task consists in creating some
imaginative context appropriate for
the use of studied categories.
 Test takers should develop a short
paragraph providing required
information as proposed, correctly
using the preterit or / and perfect.
7. Text editing
 This
test task focuses on
correcting deliberately wrong
grammar items.
Conclusion
 Quality
testing is bound to have not
only its personal, related to language
competence enhancement effect, but
also, it can influence the teaching /
learning process as a whole, curricula
as well as overall FL studying
motivation in its capacity of
measuring and teaching tool .
THANK YOU
FOR
YOUR
ATTENTION!
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English Preterit and Perfect Testing Techniques