Czech EFL

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Thursday, October 13, 2005

Business English - Setting measurable goals

In my previous post I pointed out that I would focus on long-term goals but now I'm facing a task of setting such goals that would be measurable!

I understand that any business spending lots of money on their employees' education wants to see some measurable ROI. Prior to breaking into EFL I specialised in e-marketing and in that area almost anything could be defined, measured and analysed. BI software such as SAS can do wonders. On the other hand, some time ago I came across a harsh social critique of our endeavour to turn to numbers and measure anything and everything.

Where does EFL stand here? The usual (and the easiest) thing to do is to give 2 tests over a set period of time and compare the two scores. It's clear though that the bulk of such tests is all about grammar...

Now, how do you measure that a learner is able to:
  • engage in small talk,
  • answer/make a phone call,
  • hold a conversation on a business topic or
  • deliver a presentation?

6 Comments:

  • At 11:29 PM, Blogger Cleve said…

    Boy, that is indeed The Question. Much of the HR / training and development community is focused on this issue as well (for training in general), and they've invested a lot of energy on it - I've been meaning to read through a few of the better books on the techniques used to see how they could be adopted by language teachers, but haven't found the time yet. Much of what they do revolves around Kirkpatrick's "Four Levels of Evaluation" schema, which is worth googling.

    What I end up doing for corporate clients (for what it's worth) is a multi-dimensional "whatever-we-can-come up-with" approach (by "we" I mean the student, the teacher, the HR / training manager, and the student's manager). For progress assessment we use as many of these as we can:
    1) teacher evaluation, and/or
    2) teacher's "tests"
    3) student self-evaluation
    4) peer evaluation
    5) manager's evaluation
    6) standardized tests (BULATS, et al)
    7) portfolios esp. email and .ppt's
    8) performance reviews, usually via #s 3, 4, and 5 above

    For measurable goals, we use:
    1) hours in class
    2) attendance %
    3) self-reported self-study
    4) standardized tests #6 above

    We've also used error counts on real emails, separated by several months' time, with some students, and that often works well, but it is time consuming. Recording classroom performance and comparing over time can be done as well. Once we recorded real conference call production in month 1 and month 6 and the accuracy and interaction improvements were dramatic, so we always try to recommend that, but many clients shy away from what is sometimes intrusive.

    Anyway this issue is somewhat of an obsession with me so I'd love to see more conversation here on it - count me in.

     
  • At 5:40 AM, Blogger EFL Geek said…

    I don't really focus on the programs goals, but rather I get my students to make their own language goals. These goals can range from passing my course to something large such as becoming a translator but they must make goals.

    I previously wrote about this on my blog: goal setting and goals presentation.

     
  • At 1:10 PM, Blogger Czech TEFLer said…

    Cleve: Great comment, thanks! I'll definitely check it out.

    You touched on progress assessment and it dawned on me just now that it is, of course, an intrinsic part of the whole training process. All my students seem highly motivated for one thing there is a promise of promotion in the sales department right now and another the whole training scheme offers lots of incentives encouraging the participants to take charge of the results because the incentives are directly related to the progress and commitment score on the end report and I'm toying with the idea of passing responsibility for 50% of this score on the students (student self-evaluation) while keeping the other 50% for the other points on your list. What say you?

     
  • At 3:35 PM, Blogger Cleve said…

    I just realized I didn't answer your question, but it's hard to say without knowing more...there are so many variables that without being on the ground it's tough to recommend anything. (I've done the fly-in fly-out consultant thing enough to know that it usually doesn't work very well!). But if you want to shoot me an email we could discuss it further, or maybe via skype.

     
  • At 3:11 PM, Blogger Cleve said…

    Oh man I wrote a long comment preceeding my last one and it disappeared. Maybe you thought it was spam ;)

     
  • At 3:20 PM, Blogger Czech TEFLer said…

    Eh? I've got nothing to do with it.. As far as I know if a comment is deleted here there's at least a little note left about it. Any chance you could recover that one?

     

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