How to Assess English Language Learners Without Testing? 


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Assessment plays a pivotal role in educating English-speaking learners and bilingual children. Teachers usually use assessments to monitor language development in students’ first or second language and monitor the quality of their daily learning.

In addition, evaluations are used to place students in special programs and provide information for accountability and policy analysis purposes But, how can we test English language learning without conducting tests? 

This article enlists few techniques of assessing English language learners without actually taking any test.

Teacher Assessment 

Asking students questions is an ancient, proven and tested method where teachers check the children’s understanding. We can also refer to it as the “oral interview”. For appropriate testing, we should ask a relevant question at the right time. It can help reveal how children’s understanding is developed and what should be done to help them achieve a particular standard.

You can also conduct an interview session with your students to get a clear sense of their listening and speaking capabilities. This may be done in front of the class or in private, as per the needs. Asking questions that use the grammatical structures and vocabulary your class has studied will help you to know exactly what every student has grasped by far. If your students commit any mistake, do not punish them; help them understand the mistakes.

Class Presentation 

An in-class presentation assesses a different aspect of the spoken English language. If a kid is passionate about the topic and gets an opportunity to present something in front of the class, he will show how much he has learned from what he presents and how he presents it. He can also research information on his topic. Class presentation opportunities also encourage children to think about their learning and make them more aware of how they have learned it. Most importantly, it helps children develop their articulation and explanation skills. 

Role Play 

Another fantastic way to assess your students’ English language speaking abilities is by having them perform role-plays in front of the class. You can give them situations and roles to act out. Listen to their content and grammar, and assess how creatively they use the language.  

Cloze Exam 

A new buzzword, a cloze exam, is uncommon testing that helps understands your student’s grammar knowledge. You can begin the test by writing an original paragraph or picking it up from any English language lessons. Then replace any word in between the paragraph with a blank and ask your students to fill in the blanks with suitable words which they find most logical and grammatical. Hence, you will witness various answers among your students and have a clear knowledge of their language understanding. 

Writing Sample 

As the name suggests, this form of testing involves writing practice. You may have your students write an original paragraph or an essay in the classroom as a sample to assess their proficiency with grammar. This could be given as homework, but it runs the risk that they may get help from their parents or sibling, and it will not give an accurate picture of the student’s English writing. However, this writing assessment will get you an accurate look at their grammatical and writing proficiency if done in class. 


By portfolio, we mean a collection of work samples that cover several aspects of the assignments your students have completed by far and referring to the digital era we are in, considering portfolio/digital portfolio is a great choice. We can have students build their profiles, develop a CV, showcasing their achievements, compiling a collection of works to grade. You can also ask them to include a specific grammar homework assignment, a writing sample and a vocabulary exercise, as well. It will help you assess your students and also encourage students to improve themselves and get graded on their strengths.


There are an extensive collection of online and offline resources for ESL students; you can have your students spend time at home or in a language lab period working on exercises and quizzes offline or online. If your kids take online quizzes, they can get feedback on their work and knowledge; and if offline, you can grade and guide them.

Rather than asking long subjective questions, quizzes with multiple-choice exams or true/false can be a short and crisp way of assessing their knowledge. You may ask a question based on English grammar or the ongoing lesson. Also, ensure that all the answer choices around are the same length.

However, when you take the true/false type of test, make sure you do not give tricky questions that focus on minor details. Also, include questions that allow your students to correct the questions that they say are false. It will help you have a better understanding of their language understanding.

Personal Development Plans

A classroom is full of students from diverse capabilities; some are very bright, but some need to be guided to learn better. In this case, you can work with individual students to agree on what they want to achieve or what improvements they require. It is often related to their passions and keen interests and can help shape their future careers. It is a very personalized form of self-evaluation, which can be facilitated by the teacher as an informal method of evaluation. It indicates to what extent students are progressing in a variety of subjects, but ultimately it is their preparation for responsible positions in society.

Project-Based Learning

Project-based learning can take many different forms, depending on what most interests the student. Some projects may last one semester or even an entire academic year. While doing so, students develop several organizational competencies such as resource and time management, and if the project is collaborative, it may also lead to the establishment of negotiation, decision-making, and leadership competencies.

What form of assessment do you use? Do let us know in the comments?

About the Author

Author: Saniya Khan

Saniya Khan I am Saniya Khan, Copy-Editor at EdTechReview – India’s leading edtech media. As a part of the group, my aim is to spread awareness on the growing edtech market by guiding all educational stakeholders on latest and quality news, information and resources. A voraciously curious writer with a dedication to excellence creates interesting yet informational pieces, playing with words since 2016.

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