The need to improve the level of English proficiency in Malaysia is becoming more and more important especially in education. With the necessity to increase language proficiency among students as well as lecturers/teacher increases, many are using online language learning to help with their language development. One of the ways to use this online learning is through Online Language Testing. An example of this can be seen in UKM’s use of IT in education from LearningCare platform, online tests for lecturers, etc. With many Malaysian educators having a base of teaching in Bahasa Malaysia instead of English, Online learning can be used to develop their English skills so that they can be better equipped to teach courses and classes using English. To measure their development, online language testing which are test which is taken online can be used. These tests can inform them of their level and improvements in their learning. However there are advantages and disadvantages to this.
Firstly, online language testing allows flexibility and more freedom. With many lecturers/teachers having a busy schedule, this test will be easier on their schedule due to the fact that it can be taken anytime as long as one has internet connection. This allows them to develop their English skills without it interfering with their classes and other matters. The faceless and impersonal interface can also make it less stressful for them. Also, they can immediately access the answers and corrections to the questions as soon as they have finished the test. This can allow them to better gauge their learning and development as well as allowing them to locate and fix their mistakes. They can also compare their results with others who have taken the tests and the data on their test can be kept for profiling.
Another advantage of online language testing is that the test can be changed and customized to meet the needs. The tests can also be customized to display different types off questions that cater to the different types of language skills like grammar, etc. The test can also be formatted to certain times as well as a time limit. They can also use randomization and shuffling of the questions so that the tests do not become too dull and predictable. Do only allow certain individuals that need to be graded in certain online tests, a password system can be used.
The first disadvantage of online language testing comes from the limitation of the technology. Most online language testing only are able to test for simple answers like true or false, objective questions, short subjective answers, etc. Due to this, certain important language skills like advanced writing as well as oral test cannot be done in most online language testing. This makes it difficult to truly gauge the development of the lecturers/teachers through online language testing alone.
Online language testing also has limitation because many do not use it seriously or often to gauge their development. These means many do not take the tests seriously as a real one. The ability to take these tests anywhere, at any time also doesn’t ensure the validity of the tests, since they can search for answers through other sources while doing the test.
While online language testing certainly has its advantages like flexibility and customization, there are certain limitation and disadvantages present like technological limitations and test validity. However, with certain tweaks here and there, online language testing can be made into a useful tool for learning English.
- Muhammad Kamarul Kabilan & Norizan Abdul Razak & Mohamed Amin Embi. 2006. Online Teaching and Learning ELT. Penerbit Universiti Sains Malaysia.