Research into task design of assessment tasks for YLs

I am making available an MA assignment I wrote a while ago about the design of assessment tasks for children. In it, I examine how tasks which effectively assess the language ability of children can be designed. It was written while I was working at Cambridge English as a Subject Officer for the YLE tests and I refer to the research the tests underwent as part of the 2007 review of the YLE tests.

NB The two internal documents from Cambridge English are not publicly accessible (Guidelines for Oral Examiner Training and Coordination and Instructions to Oral Examiners) Also note that the latest YLE information is available online: 

I hope you enjoy reading my MA assignment.


YLs Teacher Training course Session 2 Classroom Management

It’s now almost half way through the autumn term in most UK schools and in schools and colleges in many other countries.

Here is session 2 of my 10-week Teacher Training course for teachers of Young Learners. It can be run with new teachers of children (and those with some experience too!) and it explores the ins and outs of good classroom management, both principles and practice. All you need is an IWB, access to the Internet and Teachers TV or You Tube, plus some fairly basic pen and paper materials.

I hope you find these materials stimulating and relevant to your teaching context.                  Do please let me know if you have any feedback or questions.

YLs TT course – session 2_adapted for blog

YLs Teacher Training course Session 1 Why children are different

It’s now very much autumn and teachers have been back at school for a couple of weeks now in most of the UK and in many other countries.

Here is a training session that can be run with new teachers of children (and those with some experience too!) to explore how and why children are different and what to do about it.

I hope you find my materials interesting.

YLs TT course – session 1

A ten-week Teacher Training course for recently qualified teachers of Young Learners

Ahead of the return to school for most teachers and young learners, I am pleased to share a ten-week initial Teacher Training course for recently qualified teachers of children and young teenagers. I wrote this when I was still working as a Teacher Trainer and have updated it to place it on my blog.

First of all, I am sharing the pre-course information that can be given to trainees either ahead of or at the start of the course: YLs Initial ten-week Teacher Training course – overview

Cognitive levelling

More than a month after my last post and I am back at my desk looking at cognitive levelling this week and the research that has been done into this area, or not, as the case may be. This seems a more recent area of research in the field of children.

As well as estimating the age at which a child can be reasonably expected to do something, say ‘Can tell the time in clock hours e.g. It’s nine o’clock.’ I have been trying to band the abilities into four areas: open (age 6 upwards), 7 or older, 9 or older and 11 or older. This is still very much up for discussion as so much happens around the age of ten when more abstract thinking and understanding come into play. For instance, when should children be expected to write a well-constructed paragraph with a topic sentence, main body and final sentence?

I hope to answer that question more expertly as this week goes by.


Well, our talk went down well at IATEFL and I am now back at my desk getting ready for the next stage of the Learning objectives for YLs project. This will be to reorder the descriptors to create a logical set and to incorporate the feedback from reviewers and either rewrite descriptors or send them for further analysis. I also need to assign a cognitive level to the descriptors, which will be quite a challenge. I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into the job, so to speak, and will keep you updated.

YL descriptors – progress update

After a week visiting family, I have settled back into the daily routine. I have now finished content mapping all seven levels of a Primary course, and have now moved into the next phase of the project which is to pull out all of the new and adapted YL descriptors I and my fellow content mappers have created. Interesting if slightly gruelling work.

It’s now just over a month to IATEFL where I will be presenting on the YL can-do descriptors project so come and see me doing my thing in Manchester on the morning of Monday 13th April.

As February approaches…

I am now splitting my time between content mapping a Primary course for Pearson and writing revised Primary test material, again for Pearson. On Monday I’m meeting my contacts at this publisher to plan my IATEFL workshop on how we have gone about producing can do descriptors for Pearson’s YL syllabus. Interesting times and I am enjoying it.

YLs content mapping

I have dedicated most of today to content mapping a higher level of a Primary course. Basically it involves looking at each activity in the Pupil’s and Activity Books and assigning them a can-do statement or creating a new or adapted can-do statement to describe what the children have to be able to do to successfully do the activities. It’s fascinating work, but seeing as it involves toggling between two spreadsheets for most of the day any light relief, like the writing of this blog, comes as welcome relief.