Investigation of final language assessment for pre-service teachers of English in the Russian educational context: a case study
This research explores the final assessment of language competence of future foreign language (FL) teachers (university graduates) in the Russian educational context. Foreign Language teacher training has always been an essential part of Russian education and its importance increased in the 1990s. Later however, with significant educational reforms at primary and secondary school level, teacher training became an area of least attention and interest from the Ministry of Education of Russia and local education authorities. This research is based on the belief that no school reforms are possible without investing in teachers and, therefore, in initial and in-service teacher education, with assessment being one of its key dimensions. The study aims to describe optimal methods of assessing language competence of novice teachers of English as a FL in Russia. For this purpose, the following objectives have been achieved: - a description of current notions of FL teacher language competence, based on analyses of previous theoretical and empirical research; - design of exam evaluation tools – 3 questionnaires and an interview framework, and their use in data collection from various stakeholders in a Russian state pedagogical university; - identification of strengths and weaknesses of the current Final language assessment; - description of possible alternative options for the Final Language Examination and discussion of their impact on different stakeholders. The research follows a mixed-methods design with both qualitative and quantitative data collected and discussed. The study involves various stakeholders at different levels and from different backgrounds – university students, Final Exam takers; Exam designers and administrators, and also teachers of English who provided their valuable vision of the current Final Language Examination and its possible alternatives. The data obtained through surveys and interviews allows for tentative conclusions on the current Language Examination’s appropriacy and relevance, and provides ground for a multi-faceted analysis of the Exam’s strong points and weaknesses, and for development of alternative assessment tasks. The research concludes by viewing possible changes in the Exam as likely and less likely to happen in the near future, based on analysis of the Russian higher education context.