Saturday, 10 April 2010

Kyoto - Examiner Training

A dozen of the nation's finest EFL teachers gathered in Kyoto today to participate in Cambridge ESOL Oral Examiner (OE) training.

Today's attendees had already been tasked with a certain amount of pre-training which meant we were able to get cracking at a decent pace. I have found that providing recruits with as much info as possible beforehand saves a lot of aggro on the day, as examiners have a lot to process/manage/do, and digesting a 50+ page booklet at the same time has proved to be too much in the past. I love Dropbox!

We gathered from Okayama, Osaka, Nagoya, Matsumoto (our Tana) as well as locals based in Kyoto & Shiga.In all  would say there was over 150 years of English teaching experience in the room; quite a lot of experienced examiners (other levels) too. Great to see motivated and capable teachers pushing themselves professionally and being open to guidance/a bit of tweaking even with all that experience. It is rare that we teachers are challenged to justify our opinions and have a common framework with which to discuss student/candidate performances.Very few teachers (in Japan) are experienced enough/qualified to deliver & assess these levels (CEFR B2/C1).

Personally it was great to see OEs I have previously trained at other levels (YLE, KET, PET) in three different cities (Okayama, Kobe, Nagoya) get down to business very much "on the same page". I was even happier to hear myself quoted as OEs collaborated during the day on rubric delivery (interlocuting) & assessment. I find it very rewarding personally to see & hear teachers/trainers I respect 're-tweeting' my suggestions/sharing their experiences moulded in consistent "Cambridge-speak".

I tried a few new things before & during this session, which I hope added value. I have given up reading commentaries to the room; the 'mana from heaven' approach falls on barren ground too often :)  Today I asked trainees to assess performances alone & then discuss their scores together, before giving them commentaries without scores to fine tune their ideas against the analytical criteria. This stops everyone arguing with me! At the end of the day, here is Cambridge's mark. "Move your scoring to this benchmark!"

Tomorrow the Himalaya of EFL - CPE... The absolute pinnacle of a student's ambitions. Very rare air at this level.

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