Languages - National Moderator's Report March 2019

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The following report gives feedback to assist assessors with general issues and trends that have been identified during external moderation of the internal Languages standards in 2018.

It does not clarify specific standards but provides further insights from moderation material viewed throughout the year.


Volume of Evidence Produced

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Some students produce an excessive volume of evidence. Students are not required to submit evidence beyond the criteria of the standard. It is appropriate for teachers to guide students to produce succinct evidence in response to the achievement criteria of the standard.

Particularly in spoken presentations, student evidence sometimes goes well beyond the time expected. Evidence submitted to moderators suggests students are able to produce concise, organised presentations that clearly show evidence of their ability in the suggested time frames.

In Languages, the guidelines suggested in both the Clarifications and the Conditions of Assessment are a good guide to expected evidence. A minimum of two pieces of writing and two interactions are required to be submitted for moderation.

Excellence at Level 3

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There is some inconsistency in awarding Excellence. When making assessor decisions regarding Excellence, consideration needs to be given to the overall quality of the evidence. This is critical when making a judgement at the Merit/Excellence boundary.

In the Interact Level 3 standard there is a requirement for spontaneity. This, together with the criteria of successful selection of a repertoire of language features and strategies to maintain the interaction, means that for Excellence at this level, students typically show flexibility to use the language they have learnt in a variety of ways and at the appropriate times.

Evidence seen in moderation suggests long pre-rehearsed ‘mini presentations’ do not allow the above to occur. Elements of the unexpected are essential for students to be able to show that they have the language strategies necessary in an interaction that is not a scripted role play. For this reason, an interview, especially with the teacher (where the student is likely to cede control of the conversation), is rarely seen to produce sufficient evidence for the ‘repertoire of strategies’ criterion; asking and answering questions is evidence of only one strategy.

Students reaching Excellence at Level 3 also show that they are able to analyse, interpret, challenge, explain, evaluate etc. They move beyond simply giving information or describing. In order to explore and justify perspectives, showing evidence of language at the expected level, successful tasks ensure that there is enough substance to enable this. In some instances, tasks have been seen that are set at a level below what is needed.

At Excellence there will be a high level of mastery shown of lower level language. For example, while a student may have some very complex sentences used correctly, errors such as continual verb errors of a basic nature, prevent an indication of the required ‘effective’ level.

Group Work

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Group work is an acceptable form of assessment, if appropriate to the standard. When submitting group work for moderation, the teacher needs to ensure there is evidence that each student has met the standard.

The contribution of each student can be tracked and presented in a variety of ways, such as written record of teacher observation, the division of workload into clearly defined tasks, a student worklog or video diary, recordings of teacher/student conferences, etc.

Group discussions happen in languages and, occasionally, group presentations. In many instances, the third speaker takes a very passive role. Where there are more than 2 people in a task, students need to be reminded of the appropriate time requirements so that they can ensure their contribution to the interaction will provide sufficient evidence for a grade.

Integrated Assessment of Standards

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This refers to assessing multiple standards via one submission of student evidence. The assessment of standards may be integrated either within a subject or across subjects.

For external moderation, if the assessment is across subjects and the student evidence is physical, it can be sent on to the next subject moderator/s if required. If it is an online submission, the student evidence can be uploaded for each standard being moderated.

Languages lend themselves well to integrated assessment across subjects, as tasks can be adjusted to suit most contexts, e.g. one school integrated an Accounting and a French standard.

Within the subject, a learning context can provide language for more than one standard. As each standard also involves a skill, the purpose of the task will change, and hence the language will not be exactly the same (e.g. the text of a presentation will not become a writing piece unchanged). However, much of the language will be able to be used in a task with a different purpose, e.g. a student may do a presentation on the environment and the Interact standard task may be the students discussing environmental issues in their town.

Feedback and Feed Forward

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The Writing and Presentation standards allow crafting and the use of resources. However, these resources should be used to assist the learning, not to provide complete chunks of language which are used unaltered and which the student would never be able to reproduce. Moderation has shown a rise in the amount of work that is almost error free, and native speaker-like in sentence structure. This is not indicative of second language learners producing evidence of their own ability to write in the target language.

Feedback for this standard should be general in nature and not error-specific, e.g. referring to a specific criterion that may need more focus. More than one opportunity for feedback may mean that authenticity is compromised.

The work submitted needs to represent the authentic ability of the student. A guide to this may be to reflect on whether this student could reproduce a piece of work on the same topic if you were to sit them down at a table with no help. If the student has learnt from the resources, they would be able to reproduce high quality work.

The Interact Standard

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This standard is producing some high-quality examples of students using the target language they are learning to express themselves and to interact with other people.

In some moderation there is still an inclination towards role plays, interviews or interactions which have clearly been practised to the specific task. These do not produce natural evidence to support the criteria or intent of the standard.

There is no expectation that students will speak without practice of the language involved, as students will be learning the language in class and practising using it in a variety of ways. However, the specific assessment task should not be practised either with different students before the task, or with the partner before recording. Successful assessment tasks/activities seen in moderation allowed opportunity for students to provide natural evidence of the strategies required by the standard, rather than rehearsed material.

The most successful student evidence typically demonstrates genuine reactions to what has been said, rather than moving to the next prepared question. Students who demonstrate successful outcomes for the Interact standard come into an assessment having thought about the language they will be using, which may include some focus questions they may ask if the opportunity arises, while taking the interaction in natural directions. Providing questions beforehand is unlikely to allow evidence of the interactive intent of the standard to be demonstrated.

Typical characteristics of natural use of language includes features such as seeking clarification, self-correcting, reacting to what is said rather than moving to the next prepared question, making mistakes, pausing for thought, prompting etc. 

Moderation shows that sometimes the task needs to be adjusted to ensure language at the appropriate curriculum level. For example, talking about family by naming family members, saying their ages, etc., reflects language at Level 3 of the curriculum. For Level 6, there needs to be some added complexity; for example, in Spanish, by the use of a variety of tenses across the evidence to show mastery of language to communicate beyond the immediate context, more complex sentence patterns, giving reasons and explanations, etc. This is applicable to all of the internal standards.

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