Lesson Transcript


Chigusa: Welcome to a special Inner Circle Audio Lesson! I'm Chigusa and I'll be your host. My co-host today is the founder of InnovativeLanguage.com... Peter Galante!
Peter: Hi everyone! Peter here.
Chigusa: In this Inner Circle, we’re talking about…
Peter: Testing and Assessment. A Brutally Honest Way to Improve Your Language
Chigusa: You’ll Learn...
Peter: ...One, Why Tests Are Crucial for Language Progress
Chigusa: Two, How Peter Using Testing and Assessments to Improve
Peter: ... And Three, How You Can Put Yourself to the Language Test
Chigusa: So you can master your target language and reach your goals!
Chigusa: Listeners, welcome back to the Inner Circle.
Peter: Last time, you learned all about talking points...
Chigusa: ...and how they get you speaking more of your target language,
Peter: You also learned how to “build” your own talking points.
Chigusa: And Peter, you also set a 10 minute goal last time.
Peter: 10 minutes of French conversation. No problem at all, Chigusa, I hit it.
Chigusa: And, are you still using talking points to speak more?
Peter: I am...but I’m also combining it with testing and assessment...
Chigusa:... Ah, that’s something we rarely talk about. Testing.
Peter: Ah, the T word, yes, but it’s crucial to your language progress...
Chigusa: ....especially if you value honest feedback.. And want to know where you stand.
Peter: So, let’s get into this month’s Inner Circle.
Chigusa: Testing and Assessment. A Brutally Honest Way to Improve Your Language
Peter: Let’s jump into the first part.
Chigusa: Part 1: Why Tests Are Crucial for Language Progress
Peter: So, Chigusa, if you remember, 2 months ago, I enrolled in an actual class
Chigusa: Yes, I remember that.
Peter: And, aside from providing structure, there’s another thing that schools do rather well.
Chigusa: They cost you a lot of time and money?
Peter: Yes, they do that well too. But, they provide assessment. Which is usually in the form of a test. So, when I enrolled, I had to take a placement test.
Chigusa: ...and based on your results, they placed you into an appropriate class.
Peter: Exactly.
Chigusa: Yeah, that’s fairly standard procedure for all language schools.
Peter: But it is an important step. Plus, there's the ongoing assessment that schools give you..
Chigusa: You mean like weekly quizzes and tests every month?
Peter: ...that and ongoing feedback from your teacher.
Chigusa: Okay, Peter... you’re going to have to convince me... why tests are good. I’m not a fan of school tests.
Peter: I know the feeling, Chigusa, I’m not very good at testing either, but, here’s the thing. Tests give you a honest assessment of your language skills... in SOME ways.
Chigusa: If you fail the listening part.
Peter: ...you know your weakness. You know you need to focus on it now.
Chigusa: And your teachers know your weakness too.
Peter: Exactly. If they know you’re bad at listening....
Chigusa: ...they will work with you to get you up to speed.
Peter: But if you were learning alone, you don’t get such an opportunity.
Chigusa: And, you may not even know where you’re going wrong.
Peter: Also, there’s another hidden benefit. As a self learner, noone is going to push you to do your best. It’s up to you.
Chigusa: Right, it’s all up to you.
Peter: But tests give you that challenge. That urgency to improve.
Chigusa: Ah, I think that’s why a lot of self-learners, especially Japanese learners, aim to take the proficiency test.
Peter: You’re right. It gives them a way to assess themselves...and gives them a challenge. Something to aim for. I actually took ... and failed... the Chinese proficiency test, I think that was last year.
Chigusa: Did you really? Wow!
Peter: And I’ll admit, having that deadline. Knowing I have to take the test ...
Chigusa: ...it gave you urgency?
Peter: Exactly. It’s funny. It's a lot easier to get motivated and take action...
Chigusa: ...when someone else puts you to the test. Now Peter, you quit your classes last month. How exactly are you applying “tests” and assessment.
Peter: Well, Chigusa, Let’s jump into the second part and see if I can clarify.
Chigusa: How Peter Using Testing and Assessments to Improve
Peter: Actually, this approach is not new at all.
Chigusa: Yeah, you’ve been learning with my Premium PLUS teacher for quite a while...
Peter: ...and the assessment is built into our program. So, I’ve been doing this for a while.
Chigusa: So, let’s get into it.
Peter: So, my goal is to speak more French.
Chigusa: And you’re using the lessons and the Premium PLUS teacher... but how exactly do you get tested and assessed? And how does that help you speak more?
Peter: Great questions, Chigusa. The Premium PLUS plan is our guided learning program.
Chigusa: Right. You get a teacher to learn with.
Peter: The way it works is, when you join, you get an assessment test.
Chigusa: Ah, I know. They grade it and give you a learning pathway that’s appropriate for you.
Peter: That is the initial assessment. But there’s ongoing assessment too.
Chigusa: Oh?
Peter: So with every FrenchPod101 lesson I take, I’m expected to practice the dialogues and send in my recordings to my teacher
Chigusa: For every lesson?
Peter: Every lesson, Chigusa. I’ll record myself speaking the lines out loud.
Chigusa: Wow! Now, do all Premium PLUS students do this?
Peter: Well, it’s up to the students. Our more active students send up to 3 recordings a day. I fall into that group because I want more feedback, so I take advantage of that opportunity.
Chigusa: Okay. So you practice speaking. You record yourself...
Peter: I pass it to the teacher. She gives me feedback. I re-record and apply her corrections... and re-record
Chigusa: And in the process, You’re mastering conversations... and learn more things to say.
Peter: Exactly. But the point is... I’m getting assessed on a regular basis. She tells me what’s wrong, what’s right, where my pronunciation is off...
Chigusa: Yeah, that kind of feedback is crucial for fast learning.
Peter. It is. There’s also the weekly assignments that test me on speaking...
Chigusa: ...and the teacher reviews that too.
Peter: And finally, there’s the Language Portfolio. Every four months, students submit 4 assignments on reading, speaking, listening, and writing. Your teacher evaluates your language skills overall. Since I’ve started, I’ve only done it twice. I wouldn’t say this is extremely important to me because I’m focusing on speaking...but the fact that the portfolio is assessed by a teacher, this is the critical part. I learn where I stand and if I’m getting better or need more work.
Chigusa:But listeners, if you want to focus on all areas of the language....
Peter: ...Definitely take advantage of the Language Portfolio.
Chigusa: Okay, Peter, your routine is pretty simple. Do you do anything outside of the recommended lessons?
Peter: Outside of the program that my teacher gives me... I also come up with talking points.
Chigusa: Yes, we talked about that last time.
Peter: I come up with lines that I want to use in a conversation and do the same process. I record and send them for assessment.
Chigusa: And then you’re ready to use them with your skype teacher.
Peter: Exactly.
Chigusa: Now some of our listeners are not Premium PLUS users. What can they do?
Peter: Let’s jump into the next part.
Chigusa: Part 3: How You Can Put Yourself to the Language Test
Peter: Now that you’re in your 9th month of learning....
Chigusa: ...you’re probably interested in knowing how far you’ve come.
Peter: This where assessment comes in.
Chigusa: So, tests give you an opportunity to see where you stand...
Peter: ...how good your language is...
Chigusa: ...and what you need to work on. Similar with getting assessments from a teacher.
Peter: They’ll tell you what your strong and weak points are, point out your mistakes...
Chigusa: So that you can improve.
Peter: And listeners, this is super important: before you worry about failing or not understanding anything, remember... it’s not about passing or failing...
Chigusa: ...this is about getting honest assessment of your progress.
Peter: That’s it. So, how do you do it?
Chigusa: If you’re a Premium PLUS user, we recommend that you follow the program that your teacher gives you.
Peter: They’ll give you a recommended Learning Pathway...
Chigusa: And based on those lessons, you can practice speaking and writing...
Peter: ... by recording yourself, and sending writing to the teacher.
Chigusa: For listening and reading, you also get weekly assignments that test your skills..
Peter: ...and after, your teacher can provide you with feedback.
Chigusa: Outside of this, take part in the Language Portfolio. Every 4 months, you’re asked to submit assignments on reading, speaking, listening, and writing...
Peter: ...your teacher evaluates your language skills...
Chigusa: ...and gives you a comprehensive assessment of where you stand...
Peter: ...and how you’ve improved since the start.
Chigusa: Now, if you’re not a Premium PLUS user...
Peter: Here’s how you can self-test and self-assess your language skills.
Chigusa: Once you’re done with a lesson or a pathway, download the dialog tracks...
Peter: ...and review them at a later date. See how much you can understand.
Chigusa: This tests your listening, plus your vocab and grammar.
Peter: For speaking, record yourself with our voice recording tool and compare yourself with the native pronunciation.
Chigusa: And for reading, access the Lesson Notes or the Dialog tool...
Peter: ...and see if you can read the dialog.
Chigusa: The next strategy is... test yourself with a harder lesson.
Peter: You can do this for reading, speaking and listening.
Chigusa: Simply go to a higher level, like Intermediate or Advanced... and try a lesson..
Peter: With reading, you can also try our higher level Extensive Reading Books.
Chigusa: Listeners, remember, with all of this, the goal here is NOT to pass...
Peter: ...but to simply get an honest assessment of your language skills.
Chigusa: If you realize that you’re mispronouncing a certain word... now you know how to correct it.
Peter: If you can only understand 50% of a lesson, well that means is... you should review it...
Chigusa: ...until you get to 100%...
Peter: And if you can’t read as smoothly as you had hoped....
Chigusa: All it means is that you should give it a few more tries..
Peter: ...Until you’re better.
Chigusa: Alright Peter. Let’s get back to your goals. You hit 10 minutes of conversation.
Peter: Alright, three months left in the year. Let’s aim for 13.
Chigusa: Sounds great! Deadline?
Peter: October 31st. Hopefully, I can reach 20 minutes by the end of December.
Chigusa: Listeners, how about you?
Peter: What’s your small, measurable monthly goal? And what’s the deadline?
Chigusa: Let us know.
Peter: Email us at inner dot circle at innovative language dot com.
Chigusa: And stay tuned for the next Inner Circle.


Chigusa: Well, that’s going to do it for this special Inner Circle lesson!
Peter: Bye everyone!
Chigusa: Thanks for listening, and we’ll see you next time.