We have had a discussion on the ask Steve Forum about getting a Certificate going for our members. We do intend to introduce a variety of tests, but in the meantime we could have a certificate based on evaluations done by one or more of our tutors.
The certificate could look something like this. ( I just modified a form I found on the Internet)
To see it properly formatted check out this link.
LingQ Online Language Academy
Certificate of Completion
This is to document that
has successfully completed 6 months study and has achieved the level of
English Intermediate II
areas of specialization: Business, History, Information Technology
Words and phrases studied 7,500
Hours of listening 500
Words of reading 20,000
Hours of online discussion 30
Words of writing 6,000
Date Sept 10, 2010 Known Words: 15,000
Presented By: Janet Smith ,
Signature of LingQ Tutor
Steve Kaufmann Director
Members can ask for an evaluation leading to a certificate at any time.
Tutors can offer evaluations as part of a 1 month course.
The description of the content areas of specialization will be agreed upon between the tutor and learner.
Anyone seeking a Certificate would have to meet certain requirements for the evaluation to have any meaning.
minimum period of study at LingQ perhaps 6 months
minimum number of online discussions
minimum number of writing assignments
minimum activity level
Evaluation would consist of a 60 minute discussion with a panel of 2 tutors.
Tutors would review the member’s writing assignments ahead of time.
Tutors would read a short paragraph of content and then ask the learner to answer questions about this content.
Intermediate and Advanced learners would be asked to make one or two five minute presentations on a subject chosen by the tutors.
This would be followed by a question and answer exchange.
The cost in points for this evaluation would have to be determined.
I would like to hear people’s comment on this. I look forward to suggestions and criticisms. How useful do you think this would be.
Bear in mind that we will be adding testing modules but this is in the future.
I like the idea of having a certificate. Personally I don’t need it at the moment but perhaps it will be useful in the future.
The above plan sounds good but I have some things to suggest:
I think it would be very hard for the tutors to create content for every different discipline on request. The best thing is that the student will choose the content to be tested which will be either from the library or any other source as long as it can be found in electronic form (so the tutors can have access to them).
The student who wants to take the exam will submit a list with the items they want to be examined. There will be a minimum of words and hours of the total of those items according to the level. For example:
Begginer: Min words: 50.000 Min hours: 10
Intermediate: Min words: 100.000 Min hours: 20
Just to clarify, these minimums won’t be taken from the profile of the student but they will be calculated from the items like that:
Item A: 1500 words, 15 min
Item B: 3000 words, 30 min
Total: 4.500 words, 45 min
The profile statistics will be also mentioned on the certificate as overall work of the student. (I just think that they shouldn’t be the only requirement for being eligibe for taking the exam. They are not very specific)
Tutors would read a short paragraph of content taken from the articles that the student has choose to study and also another paragraph wich will be from other unknown source.
Perhaps there should be also a written “real time” test through skype, same fashion as the above. The tutors will give a written paragraph and the student will answer questions etc But I m not sure about that, maybe it’s becoming too complicated…
Oops… I meant “Beginner…”
I’m a bit rusty on the techniques of assessment, but as I remember it there are 3 basic ways of assessing proficiency:
You track the time and effort a student has put in (at the given level), and give a certificate based on that, e.g. John Smith has successfully completed a 6 month intermediate 1 French course, learned x words, etc etc. As on your example certificate Steve (which I like, and I want one!). Employers seem to like this approach as I’ve been on a lot of work courses where all that matters is that you complete the course, not how proficient you have become at the end of it!
You assess the student’s proficiency at the end of the course, with, e.g. an exam. The student could have been in a coma during the course, but as long as they perform well on the day then they pass. Oxford and Cambridge universities like this sort of assessment, it’s easy to administer but a lot of pressure on the student. The main sort of cheating you need to worry about is the student paying someone to take the assessment for them.
You require the students to prove their competence by amassing evidence, in the form of a portfolio. So many pieces of written work, so many recordings of discussions, etc etc. Favoured by employers in the UK in the form of NVQs (National Vocational Qualifications). Hellish to mark, but do have the advantage that as well as their certificate the student them has their portfolio of evidence and can show it to employers or anyone they like.
An approach which combined all three would be a true “belt and braces” approach and should satisfy everyone.
Written tests don’t need to be real-time. The main advantage of a real-time examination is that you can actually watch the students and see that they don’t cheat, but once you let them take the test outside of the examination room that advantage is lost. On my master’s degree we did a lot of weekend assignments. The short time-scale put you under pressure and made cheating more difficult, but if your printer broke or you had a power-cut over the assessment time all was not necessarily lost.
Spoken tests are better done in real-time. None of us are at our best speaking into a tape recorder.
As far as providing specialist topics goes, the tutor could pick the material from a pool of materials agreed with the student. E.g. I could provide an e-copy of a book I have read and the tutor pick a page at random. That prevents me from memorising a translation of the text before-hand. We did something along those lines in our Latin exams at school.
First of all any employer can join LingQ and see the profile of any student that is subsidized by the employer.
We could develop a form that prints directly from the profile, that the student can send to an employer.
We are going to develop tests, and a portfolio system later when the programmers have time.
For now, we will instruct our designer to come up with a certificate. I want to simplify things as much as possible.
a) Certificate at the end of a course.
A 4 week course gives the tutor a good chance to evaluate the learner. Remember that when you buy a course you only pay for the writing and speaking. You can ignore the Lessons suggested by the tutor, and study ot her subjects.
b) Evaluation without course
The learner can approach any tutor for an evaluation via email or on her wall if the learner has been writing and speaking to that tutor for a minimum of 5 writing assignments and 5 discussions.
The evaluation will be a one on one discussion and should take 30 minutes. The tutor is free to use the 30 minutes however she see fit. To simplify things we will not require a second tutor to be present. I think that 30 minute discussion is plenty of time to place a learner in one of the 6 categories.
The tutor will have a set form to fill out similar to my example.
The statistics will be the all time statistics.
A learner can have an evaluation as often as he wants, every three months, or every time a new milestone is reached (5,000 words etc.)
Please get your input in now. Would yo want this? Any other ideas. We plan to implement as soon as possible.
I think you should keep in mind that we pay monthly and that we expect to send this payment to an employer every month. So, I think the certificate should cover 3 months for example, in order to have the time to reach our goals and having the exam. In that way it is easier to reach our goals by doing less one month and more the next month.
As I have no longer any need for certificates, I wouldn’t be taking the proposed professional track. Helen wrote about the importance of recognition of any certification programme. The link-in of students and employers/educational bodies seems vital for the programme to gain acceptance. I have a question as to membership status. Would free and basic members necessarily be excluded from the certification route or would there be a certification membership grade?
I think that our certificate would gain in recognition once we introduce some testing of the claimed “known words” etc. but that is for later. Meanwhile I think an evaluation by a tutor has value, and the record of the learner’s activity has value since it shows an employer that the employee is using the service that the employer is paying for.
Since the certificate would be tied to an evaluation by a tutor and a minimum number of discussions and writing samples, only paying members could obtain a certificate. They may only be paying members during the period of their evaluation, however, and that is not a problem.
I have posted some images of a certificate for LingQ.at the LingQCentral Blog. Please have a look and tell me what you think.
The idea is that a learner who wants a certificate after a certain period of time at LingQ will have to sign up for a 4 week course, or request his/her tutor to offer a 4 week course.
The lessons for the course can be up to the tutor or at the suggestion of the learner.
The cost of a course is exclusively for the writing correction and online interaction with the tutor. The lessons, (content items) are, in fact, free. We need to make sure that a learner has at least 4 online discussions and 4 writing submissions in order to enable the tutor to evaluate the learner.
The certificate shows the total cumulative achievements of the learner.
The tutor will evaluate the level of the learner.
The certificate can be emailed by the tutor, or for a handling fee we could print it at our head office and mail it to the learner.
I think the most important thing is about its authentic. How could my employer know whether this document is authentic or not?.
It depends on what you mean by authentic. The certificate reports on your learning activities at LingQ, the time you have spent, and what you have done. It also contains an evaluation of your level by a tutor. This is not TOEIC or TOEFL but it is something.
We will in the future be introducing testing modules. For the time being this is what we can offer. I believe that this is a more valid reference than TOELF since it includes significant interaction with a native speaker tutor.
I look forward to more feedback.
I was meaning about fraud, that is very normal on the internet, therefore my employer will not know if this certificate was made for Lingq or if I created it by myself.
Normally a certificate issued by a web site has some number that give the possibility for others people to consult if that document is veridical.
I hope you understand what I mean.
If that is a concern Flavio I can sign each certificate and mail it from our office. We would just charge the handling costs and postage.
I had a confirmation from my employer that the proposed certificate should be enough to receive the same credit as if I take a course outside. Now, when the phase one of the certification can start? Would you detail the procedure somewhere in the website? I don’t need a testing modules for now but I agree with other comments about that and will be very interested to use them in the future.
I will get back to you in a few days. Which tutor do you want to do your evaluation?
We are going to simplify things. I do not know which language you wish to receive a certificate for. In any case, you should choose the tutor(s) whom you want to evaluate you.
You should contact them on their wall, but also let me know who they are. You should let them know that you wish to be evaluated for your certificate.
You then will have to sign up for 2 30 minute discussions, one on one, and prepare to submit 600 words of writing on a subject that your tutor will assign. During your first online discussion you can work out with your tutor the kind of subject that you want to write on.
Your second online discussion will come after you have submitted your writing. Your first online session will consist of simple conversation, questions and answers and the like. The second session will consist of you preparing presentations on subjects picked by the tutor. This is new ground and the nature of the tests will depend on your level.
I will be in touch with the tutors so that we can get a uniform approach to this evaluation.
Would you want the certificate emailed to you or do you wish us to print it and mail it to you.