Assessing beginning readers

We were talking at work about the items we write for beginning-level students. How hard do they have to be? How easy is too easy, even for a beginner? As an example for discussion, one colleague shared a reading multiple choice item in Korean that had one numeral in it, and the response options were all numbers; the idea was that a non-Korean speaker can match the number to the number, and find the right answer without having any language proficiency at all. My feeling is, that’s too easy even for beginners. I would expect to see something more like this:

У пијацу, хлеб кошта 10 динара, јаје коштају 15 динара и млеко кошта 25 динара.

Колико кошта хлеб?

(1) 10 динара
(2) 15 динара
(3) 25 динара

So, if you don’t know Cyrillic: Can you find the answer? If so, do you think that shows some kind of emerging language proficiency, or is it more about language-nonspecific test-taking ability?

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3 comments on “Assessing beginning readers
  1. Meaghan O. says:

    #1! Also, are we having french toast for dinner?

  2. Marshall P. says:

    I guess #1, based on proximity of “хлеб” and no linguistic knowledge of even how to pronounce that, much less what it means. Though I do suspect that “хлеб кошта ” versus “кошта хлеб” is word order reversal to indicate a question, so maybe that counts as using some kind of meta language proficiency…

    • Daniel says:

      That’s it. I was thinking you don’t actually need the declarative/interrogative syntax – it’s enough to see that хлеб is closest to the number 10.

      Would it be easier if I wrote:

      U pijacu, hleb košta 10 dinara, jaje koštaju 15 dinara i mleko košta 25 dinara.

      Koliko košta hleb?

      (1) 10 dinara
      (2) 15 dinara
      (3) 25 dinara

      If so, does that mean anything about the broader questions?

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