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Concourse 2

Paper 2: Task by task

paper 2

Nearly all the materials and guides on this site will be useful in preparing you for the demands of the Delta examination.  In particular, those that deal with language analysis rather than methodology will be of the most help.
What follows is a brief overview with some examples of what to expect and what to do.

All the tasks in Paper 2 require longer written responses.

Marking

Paper two carries half the 200 marks available to you.  The apportioning is not equal, however:

Task 1: 18 marks Task 2: 42 marks Task 3: 40 marks

That means that Task 1 is worth less than half the marks awarded to either Task 2 or 3.
Given that you are allowed only 90 minutes for each paper, it makes sense to allocate the time you spend in the same manner.
In what follows, this information is repeated with a suggested time allocation.

 
2.1 In this task you will be presented with a test or an extract from one and be asked to comment on it in terms of its effectiveness for the stated use.
Note 'for the stated use' in that line.  You are not being asked to evaluate it generally but in terms of what it is intended to do.  A perfectly acceptable test of, say, the ability to write an email to a friend will be useless if it is actually spoken accuracy that you want to test.  Obviously, the first place to go to prepare yourself for this question is the guide to testing, assessment and evaluation on this site.
You are expected to make a total of 6 points including both positive and negative ones.
This question carries 18% of the possible marks so spend no more than 15 minutes on it.  Less if you can.
Marking:
2 marks for each positive / negative comment
1 mark for each application to the learner(s)
banana Avoid these:
  • making more than six points – number your point so you know when to stop
  • neglecting to mention both positive and negative aspects – read the rubric
  • not making it clear which are positive and which are negative points – the examiner will not guess what you mean
  • repeating yourself
  • using too narrow a range of criteria – consider:
         test type
         language content
         skills content
         topics
         task types
         level
         instructions / rubric
  • neglecting to identify the test type – stating the test type will help you use the terminology
  • not referring to the situation and making it relevant to your answer
  • ignoring the particular learner

Preparing for Task 1

There are, obviously, very many possible test types but they fall into a number of categories in terms of their effectiveness and purposes.  So:

  1. Figure out from the description of the test's purpose what kind of test it is.  Try completing this table by filling in the right-hand column with the kind of test and then click on it for the answers.
    2.1 task
  2. Go to the guide to the guide to testing, assessment and evaluation to refresh your memory of testing if you haven't done that recently.  There are also guides in the in-service section on assessing the four skills discretely.
    Now try these three mini-tests to check your understanding.  The final test gives you the option to come back here.
  3. Now find a selection of tests (teacher's books have plenty but you could also look at any that you have designed) and apply the principles of testing to them.
    For example:
    1. If the test is intended to be an achievement test (measuring progress) does it actually test what is in the syllabus (content validity)?
    2. If the test is intended to test writing skills does it do so by actually testing them directly or indirectly.  If it is indirect testing, is it reliable and valid?
    3. Does the test rely on the subjective opinion of the marker (low reliability) or is it mechanically marked (high reliability)?
    4. If the test has high reliability (multiple choice, fixed answers etc.) does it have validity: is it testing what we think it's testing?
2.2 In this task, you are given an extract from a course book.
Your mission is:
  1. to work out what the purpose of the activities and stages in the material are and how they combine
  2. to figure out what the author(s) believe.  In other words, what the assumptions about language and learning are that underlie the design of the material

This question carries 42% of the possible marks so spend 35 minutes on it.  But less if you can.
Marking:
2 marks for each purpose you identify (up to a maximum of 12 marks, so stop at 6 ideas)
2 marks each for stating the way the exercises combine (up to a maximum of 12 marks, so stop at 6 ideas)
1 mark for each assumption you identify (up to 6 marks)
1 mark for each explanation of the assumption (up to 6 marks)
1 mark for each relevant exercise you refer to (up to 6 marks)
Note that only the first 6 assumptions you identify will be marked so stop at 6.

avoid Avoid these:
  • being disorderly – set your answer out carefully: Purposes – Combinations – Assumption
  • supplying too much – number your answers so you know when to stop
  • repeating yourself
  • providing more than one purpose for each exercise – you may see more than one but will get no credit for the second
  • simply stating that the purpose is to prepare the learners for the next exercise – they all do that
  • describing what the learners have to do rather than stating the purpose
  • discussing exercises you are not asked to discuss – read the rubric

Preparing for task 2

You can prepare yourself by browsing various course materials and asking some simple questions:
  • What is the purpose of the task, activity or procedure?
  • What theories have influenced its design?
  • What assumptions underlie those theories?
When you have answers to those three questions, read the introduction to the Teacher's Book.  This is where the materials writer(s) will usually set out the underlying assumptions about learning and language that influenced the construction of the materials.
For this task, you need to revise and (re-)visit the following guides on this site (all links open in a new window or tab so shut the page to return):
  1. syllabus design – to understand what sort of syllabus the material might be part of (lexical, structural, functional, task-based, mixed etc.)
  2. the history and development of ELT – to remind yourself of things like grammar-translation, direct method, audio-lingualism, behaviourism and structural linguistics and see if these theories and approaches are influencing the design of the materials and whether the tasks and presentation depend on inductive or deductive learning.  Is there, e.g., an element of discovery learning indicating inductive approaches?
  3. communicative language teaching – to see if (as is probable) there is an underlying assumption that language is a means of communication first and foremost and learners need to have the opportunity to personalise language for real communication
  4. Krashen and the Natural Approach – to see if any of his 5 hypotheses are being considered
  5. task-based learning – to see if there are elements of this approach in the materials
Try completing this table to see what might come from all this.  Click on it when you have an answer.
assumptions
2.3 In this task you get an extract or two from something such as a methodology or resource book, a lesson plan, a discussion of a lesson or tutor feedback.
Your task is to answer a series of questions about it based on your knowledge of approaches, methods, theories, resources and roles.
As you can understand, exactly what knowledge you bring to the task will depend on its type but you should not neglect to include reference to your own experience and that of your colleagues when it is appropriate.
This question carries 40% of the possible marks so spend 35 minutes on it.  But less if you can.
Marking:
2 marks for each correct point made (up to a maximum of 30 marks) plus
You get a mark out of 5 for the depth of your response and that mark is then doubled to bring it up to a maximum of 10 marks.  This bit is judged as follows, according to Cambridge:
5 A fully developed, well-balanced response to the task.
Points are consistently supported by rationale based on relevant reference to experience; and/or examples; and/or range of contexts; and/or sources; and/or theories.
Rationale is convincing and insightful in justifying points made.
4 A well-developed, well-balanced response to the task.
Points are mostly supported by rationale based on relevant reference to experience; and/or examples; and/or range of contexts; and/or sources; and/or theories.
Rationale is mostly convincing and insightful in justifying points made.
3 A generally well-developed response to the task.
Points are generally supported by rationale based on relevant reference to experience; and/or examples; and/or range of contexts; and/or sources; and/or theories. Some points may be less well supported; a few irrelevancies may be present.
Rationale is satisfactory in justifying points made.
2 A limited response to the task.
Points are sometimes supported by rationale based on relevant reference to experience; and/or examples; and/or range of contexts; and/or sources; and/or theories. Some points may be unsupported; a number of irrelevancies may be present; the response may contain more description than analysis.
Rationale is evident, but inconsistent in justifying points made.
1 A minimal response to the task.
Points are minimally supported by rationale based on relevant reference to experience; and/or examples; and/or range of contexts; and/or sources; and/or theories. Most points are unsupported; a number of irrelevancies may be present; the response contains a lot of description and very little analysis.
Rationale is minimal.
0 No development of the response.
Much of that is rather subjective but the gist is that to score well you have to identify what is relevant.  You need to refer to:
point Your experience or examples
point A range of contexts
point Your knowledge of theory and practice
and you have convincingly to justify your comments and opinions.
banana Avoid these:
  • not reading the rubric carefully and including irrelevance
  • not making enough points – you need 15 to secure the maximum marks
  • making too many points – anything in excess of 15 will be ignored
  • not developing the points by referring to methodology and theory
  • not allowing yourself enough time to address the whole task

Preparing for Task 3

All the guides listed under 2.2 above will be helpful here but you may also like to include:
  1. the teaching guides (on lexis, word formation, genre, multi-word verbs etc.)
  2. the skills teaching guides to reading, listening, speaking and writing