Examination Test Paper: What Does it Check?

Janna Hakobyan

As it is known the main aim of teaching Russian as a foreign language is a practical one: promoting the learners’ communicative competency, their skills of oral and written communication in the language taught, developing the learners’ abilities and readiness for nonstop self-study of the foreign language that leads to self-education by using the foreign language in other spheres of knowledge which enables the learners to self-assess by means of observing their own speech in the mother tongue and in the foreign language taught.        

The state standards for foreign languages presuppose the priority of activity approach to the process of teaching, which develops cognitive and communicative competence. In modern lingua didactics     communicative approach means mastering language as means of communication.     

It is supposed that during the lessons the formation of understanding the system of the modern Russian language should be developed in the learners' minds; that is to say, understanding  the interconnection of phonetical and morphological phenomena, reasons of wide varieties of language means, and also some peculiarities of Russian orthography.  This is stipulated by the state syllabus of the Russian language for public schools. The state text-book, the only or the main widely used resource for teaching the Russian language in our traditional schools, suggests rules and exercises which are standard and well-known in the methods of teaching Russian as a foreign language: finding language units, substitutions, filling in gaps, explanations of the phenomena being observed and others. The basic school leaving examination test papers are based on all these.  These are exercises on the text, requiring to distinguish the semantic structures in the text and to understand separate facts in the text, to establish semantic connection among the separate facts in the text and to combine separate facts in the text into whole semantic groups; tasks on reading for gist and on developing the skills of expressing evaluating considerations about what has been read. These are good tasks  for developing the reading comprehension which is so necessary for the learner in the whole course of his educational activities. We know that one of the key objectives of teaching Russian at public secondary schools is to develop the practical skills of using the Russian language as a tool for acquiring new knowledge in different school subjects. These tasks also enable the learners to develop their abilities to recognize, make analyses, and classify the language facts; to carry out information search, find and transform the necessary information. The test tasks are intended to check the basic school learners’ language competences in Russian after having taught them the whole course of it.           

While doing the tasks the learner is: to determine the communicative speech in the real life situation; to use adequately the language means in appropriate situations; to turn the direct speech into indirect and vice versa; to define the meanings of words in a given text; to find synonyms and antonyms to underlined words; to use correctly the basic lexical, grammar, orthographic, punctuation rules of the Russian language.        

However, we teach our learners only the language skills which are necessary language competences in real life. The project based method, creative and research activities, innovative methodology are in the centre of attention of our author pedagogy. Developing research skills presupposes learners’ independent work in not complicated research work. Inter-subject problems, which are considered to be basic in project based education, are very rarely practiced in traditional public schools although they do exist in real life. In fact there always have been contradicting opinions in the history of pedagogy concerning priorities of knowledge and skills. Although very often they combine these conceptions: knowledge-abilities-skills, but in reality the question is knowledge or skills.  And at our school abilities have long been given a priority. We appreciate and expect the learners to use their knowledge so as to solve some practical problems. This ability is considered language competences.  While teaching school subjects we create real life situations when it is important to think and find solutions to practical problems. So we teach the skills which they will need in real life.  These are communicative qualities, organizational skills, general cognitive skills, computer skills. Having all these skills one can go further by self education. So we solve a very complicated methodological and technological problem: modeling the process of collaboration among all the members of teaching-learning process and assessing how effectively the learner can collaborate. Project work takes a lot of time. It demands that the teacher and learner concentrate on their work. Thanks to our author pedagogy the learner develops the ability to listen to his/her interlocutor and conduct a dialogue, to hold on the conversation by asking questions and answering them, not to violate the rules of etiquette, to be able to plan verbal and nonverbal speech behavior, to be able to work in a group, to be able to come to an agreement, to respect the partner and oneself.  

German teacher of the XIX century Friedrich Disterveg said, “Where there is knowledge there should be skills to apply it.” It is quite obvious that our learners are learning to apply or to put into practice what they know. Their numerous projects, presentations, articles on the school website are striking illustrations to this statement. It is only important that knowledge should be searched for not granted to us. It should be the result of huge work, and that is why we should take our time to manage what has been foreseen by the modern teaching-learning process.  

 

 

 

 

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