Spanish Tests . . .

Why don’t we give an online grammar test?

Some schools offer an online grammar test and some students think that such tests are one of the marks of a professional school. At Yanapuma we work hard to provide the best Spanish instruction using the most effective methodologies and methods. We understand that learning Spanish is much more than just mastering syntax and grammar,; that language is central to communication, to personal expression, and carries the culture which it expresses. The process of learning to speak a new language is a complex process that goes way beyond learning the grammatical rules. So many students come to us saying that they have studied some Spanish and they can read Spanish and know the grammar, but they cannot actually say much of anything!

If you would like to take an online Spanish test there is one FREE test that we recommend. This will give you some idea of your current level. But please read the comments below on Spanish tests to learn why we do not generally recommend them.

The test we recommend is offered by the Instituto Cervantes of Spain. It takes about 20 minutes and adjusts itself to your level based on the answers that you give. You can find it here: Test

Here's why we don't offer an online grammar test:

Any test must take into account all 4 aspects of the language – reading, speaking, writing, and listening. Thus, a short and purely grammatical test will never accurately reflect one’s true understanding of the language. Such tests are like a “pop quiz,” with little real value. A grammar test is the equivalent of a written driving test – passing it does not mean that you can actually drive a car.

We believe that students should be evaluated by criteria that are relevant to them as individuals within the context of their own lives. This implies first understanding the student’s needs for learning the language, and on that basis defining the most appropriate form of testing their current knowledge as well as subsequent progress. At Yanapuma we take an integrated and holistic view of each student and their particular past experience and needs with reference to learning Spanish, as well as their learning goals. On this basis we can evaluate their progress during classes, rather than through an abstract and generalized category of knowledge of grammatical rules.

Each student brings to a test their own cognitive structuring of their understanding of the language that may help or hinder their particular ability to complete the test. A student may have learned partly through direct experience rather than through formal language study, and thus possess understanding of the language that will not be evaluated properly by a test. Thus each test should be a unique reflection of the needs of the particular student who is learning the language rather than a universal and uni-dimensional test of grammatical ability.

A short grammatical test of a student’s ability will reveal only a limited amount of information about their grammatical knowledge of the language. A student may know a great deal about the grammar when given time to think, but be hesitant to speak, or may not understand what is actually being said. Thus, a grammar test can only be at best a rough guide to a student’s actual ability, and only a rough guide to their level of grammatical knowledge too.

As a student of a new language there are a range of relevant factors that will affect learning – verbal abilities, social interaction style, personal psychology, previous experience, learning potential, adaptation to new circumstances, etc. All these affect the learning process and need to be taken into account. A purely grammatical test will not give an accurate reflection of a student’s abilities and limitations.

Evaluation is a continual process. It should not be limited to the beginning and end of classes, but be an ongoing process of mutual reflection by the teacher and the student as they work together towards a specified learning goal, and with ongoing adjustments as necessary.

The teacher can assist, through experience and knowledge, in the choice of appropriate forms of testing a student’s advancing knowledge of the language.  Our teachers communicate with each student at the start of classes to assess a much broader spectrum of language skills than is revealed in an online grammar test, and on that basis define and monitor a learning program that will achieve each student’s learning goals.

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