Why I Don't Do Language Tests, Drills or Quizzes.
Hi there, Steve Kaufmann here, and today I wanna talk about drills, quizzes, tests.
Essentially, I'm against them and I'm gonna explain why.
Now, I'm not entirely against them.
I think some enga...
any engagement with the language is a good thing.
However, if the drill or the quiz or the test leaves you scratching your
head, trying to think of the answer, you know, reaching back into your
memory, trying to remember rules, trying to remember endings, those are bad.
The only test that you should be doing or drill with regard to languages should be
those that are easy, can't get them wrong.
And to me, a prime example is the matching pairs that a number of sites have.
We have them on LingQ and also the sort of reassembling of a sentence that we
do and that other sites probably do.
The reason they're good is you can't really get them wrong.
So the matching pairs, let's say we have three pairs, and you're supposed
to link up this word with that word, but it's done on the computer screen.
You pick a word, it becomes blue.
You look for the corresponding word in the target language, or if it's in the
target language, you look for your own language or some other language, and
if you connect them and if that is the correct answer, they both turn green.
If it's not the right answer, they turn pink.
So if it turns pink, what do you do?
You retreat and you try to match that word with something else.
So there's no great harm done if you get it wrong.
You don't have to wait for the answer.
Uh, and I find that very gratifying.
I'll get 'em wrong.
It's no big deal.
I'll go back and and I, and it's made easy.
So if there are three pairs and I get two of the pairs, I know that
the other pair, that's who they are.
And also not too many: easy, not too many, quick.
Those are the only kinds of tests that are worth doing because they, they might help
you remember the words, but beyond that, they give you a sense of satisfaction.
I'm not beaten up.
I don't take 10 questions and get six of them right, and four of
them wrong, which is discouraging.
In fact, when I have, uh, in the past had language textbooks with, you know,
all kinds of exercises and drills in the chapter, I won't do them.
But instead, I will go to the back of the book where the answers and I'll go
through the answers, because typically in these language textbooks, they'll try and
drill you on a specific aspect of grammar.
So the answers will provide you with 10 examples, concentrated examples
of that particular pattern in use.
So I don't mind looking through 10 examples of that pattern, but I won't do
the drill where they ask you to, you know, fill in the blank or whatever it might be.
I don't want any part of that.
I find it's discouraging.
It's a waste of time.
I don't think it's helpful.
Uh, the other thing that I find useful as a, as a, an exercise, as I say,
is this reassembling of a sentence.
Again, because it's fun to do, if you get it wrong, you don't get that little
smiley telling you that you did it right.
You have to keep playing with it until you get it right.
That, to me, is easy and it doesn't have the same stress or negativity associated
with it as, you know, doing 10, uh, providing 10 answers to something, filling
in the blanks, uh, 10 exercises fill in the blanks or for everyone, you gotta
flip to the back of the page and stuff.
This way you play with it until you get it right and then you get a little
smiley, sense satisfaction because it's very important in any endeavor to have
a sense that you actually succeeded.
And it's surprising how even small successes in whatever activity put
us in a positive frame of mind.
Not only for that activity, but generally we have this feeling of wellbeing if
we accomplished some task and we did it, and we did it with some difficulty
and perhaps a little bit of, you know, the odd minor hiccup, but we did it.
And to the extent that we can create that kind of a feeling, we are
encouraging the learner even though the bulk of the learning takes
place from listening and reading.
The idea that some kinds of activities, you know, the matching pairs, the
assembling of the sentences that they are in themselves enjoyable.
So it's an enjoyable form of engagement with the language and it's something
that I'll spend 10% of my time on picking up the nuts and bolts, uh,
recognizing that the bulk of my learning is still gonna be through the
listening and reading, but I don't mind doing those kinds of call them drills.
As long as they are easy, there's not too many of them.
Uh, I don't have to scratch my brain.
And typically I'll do them immediately after studying a piece of content.
So when I do the matching pairs or the assembling of the sentence in LingQ,
I do it after having studied that particular sentence in sentence mode in
LingQ so that the, uh, exercises that I am doing are relevant to content that
I'm actually listening to and reading.
To me, the worst kind of drill or, or exercise or or quiz is when you are
quizzed on random lists of vocabulary or random rules of grammar, not related to
specific content that you are listening to or reading so that it's completely
disconnected from meaningful input.
So again, my rules are do stuff that's easy, not too many at the
time, connected with content you're interested in, and let that be 10,
15, 20% of your learning activity.
But as a general rule where those conditions that I described don't exist,
don't do drills, quizzes, and tests, unless you're told to at school of course.
Thank you for listening.
Bye for now.