ASSESSING PUPILS’ LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY IN A BILINGUAL EDUCATION PROGRAMME: INSIGHTS FROM TWO PRIMARY SCHOOLS IN MALAWI

Andrew Chimpololo

Abstract


Assessment in bilingual education is fundamental as far as cognitive academic language competence (CALP) is concerned. Teachers have to continuously evaluate the level of their pupils’ linguistic competence to accordingly tailor instruction towards the attainment of CALP (Cloud, Genesee and Hamayan 2000). This paper presents the findings of a study that investigated the assessment techniques used by teachers at two primary schools in Malawi’s transitional bilingual education programme. The results indicate a monotonous use of standardized assessment tools such as written exercises, oral assignments and end-of-term tests. The teachers seem not to realize that performance evaluation is an on-going process that constantly provides important feedback on pupils’ academic language proficiency. The teachers also ignore the focus on high-level cognitive abilities in their assessment. Furthermore, there is little variety in their choice of assessment methods to accurately measure different aspects of the pupils’ linguistic competence. To the contrary, research advocates that varied and continuous assessment techniques are the best ways of evaluating pupils’ academic performance in bilingual education programmes.


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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5750/bjll.v3i0.20

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