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    Programme 2020-2023
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    Young children's language learning pathways
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What assessment is about and why it is important

Assessment is the systematic, ongoing process of evaluating the child’s language learning. It can be used to provide an indication of current skills, knowledge, experiences, ideologies, and attitudes. Assessment can form the basis for planning the next steps along the child’s language learning pathway. These assessments can be formal or informal, summative, or formative, child-led or teacher-initiated. Teachers assessing children should situate the child in a learning path which is ongoing. It builds on past experience and learning and is oriented towards learning targets for the future. The path is marked out by curriculum expectations whilst at the same time comparing the achievements, skills, and knowledge of children with previous evaluations and assessments to identify the small and big steps on the child’s (language) learning journey. The focus of assessment should be on helping children understand this journey, their progress and the next steps along their language learning pathway which allows them to become active agents of their own learning. This means: 
Assessment of young learners should not focus on results and grades but on the process of learning and the individual progress of the child.

The importance of assessment in making language learning visible in the education system

  • It allows for an identification of the child’s linguistic repertoire – in the language(s) of the education system, additional language taught as part of the curricular guidelines, and any additional languages acquired in the home, the family, or the community.
  • It allows the progress of the children to be recorded and reported on.
  • It forms the basis for developing (future) teaching and learning experiences.
  • It allows children to become engaged in their own learning progress and become agents of their own learning experiences.

Reflective activity: Assessment to make language learning pathways visible in the classroom

Before you carry out an assessment:
  • What will I be using this assessment for? Is it a formative assessment to evaluate the child's progress on their language learning journey or is it a summative assessment that aligns with the curricular expectations and the child's progress through the education system?
  • What information will I collect through this assessment and in what format will this information be? Will it be written text? In audio-visual format? Or through other artifacts or forms of evidence?
  • For whom is this assessment - is it a requirement of the educational system? Is it to inform the teaching and learning process? Is it for sharing with the child and their parents?
Whilst carrying out the assessment:
  • Is this assessment providing me with the information about the language learning to allow me to support the child in making the next steps in their language learning journey? Are there other ways of assessing the language learning of the child? After you have finished conducting the assessment
  • Did this assessment provide the information I was looking for? What other diagnostic tools can I use to evaluate the child's language learning progress?
  • How will I be using the information collected in the assessment?
    • Will it inform teaching and learning practices?
    • Will it be used to evaluate the child's progress against a set of (fixed) criteria?
  • What is the progress of the child? How does the information collected compare to other sources of information? What progress has the child made?
    • Click here to find a range of resources and tools for assessment which can be used to make language learning pathways visible in the education system.