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marking reading comprehension

Discussion in 'English' started by purpleflamingo, Mar 16, 2011.

  1. I hope someone can help please. I am teaching English to high-level students of English as a foreign language and I have to teach literature. I struggle a bit with this and especially with marking reading comprehension. I am not teaching to the UK curriculum as I am in another country but I am from the UK (although used to teaching foreign languages rather than English literature).
    WE have a book with stories (for age around 15) with comprehension questions and there is the answer book but I don´t feel too skilled in this area and they argue the points with me. They say oh but it says what do you think so it´s just my opinion for that kind of question and also they don´t write in full sentences which I find frustrating although I am forever telling them they need to.
    Any suggestions to help ease the burden of marking reading comprehension? It takes me hours and I feel like I am not even sure what is right and what is not!! Advice needed and much appreciated!!!
     
  2. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Refuse to mark it unless they do.
    Quite right - it is. But absolutely useless unless they also say why they think it and find textual evidence to support their view.
    Never accept 'to make it more interesting'. This is never the right answer.

     
  3. Why not get past papers and answer schemes from UK exams? If it's not what the mark scheme says you don't get it a mark. Do they need to answer in sentences? None of the READING exams here require it.
     
  4. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    If the questions really need main clause answers (as opposed to phrases) then yes - but if comprehension answers can be put briefly with phrase structure then that's fine.
    Examiners marking answers to reading questions like to see answers as concise as can be - not in sentences just for the sake of writing in sentences.
    Question: What does purple flamingo struggle with?
    Answer: Teaching literature and marking reading comprehension.
    It's no improvement at all to put as the answer: purpleflamingo struggles with teaching literature and marking reading comprehension.
    (The first three words are a waste of time in answering a comprehension answer. Six word answer is better than nine word one from an examiner's point of view.)
     
  5. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Fair enough, markuss, but these are EAL students and I reckon the practice is useful. I have an antipathy to responses which begin with 'because'.
     
  6. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    One reason that it's taking you more time than you think it should could be that you are marking writing (and correcting non-sentences) when you don't need to. You may feel that you do need to because you want the students to be in the habit of always writing in a certain way, of course. However, if it's just comprehension results that you want, then the writing is irrelevant as long as the answer is clear enough.
    If your students really are "high level", then they might understand about writing in different styles for different purposes.
    When I'm marking comprehension, it's just to give the correct reading mark. Because I'm marking the work of candidates, not my own students, I don't have to spend any time at all on correcting writing or commenting on grammar - or anything else, for that matter.
    (As said before, if a question is so straightforward that it can be answered with a short phrase, then a short phrase is what you want to see. Examiners don't want to see the question copied out or repeated at the start of the answer. Nothing at all wrong with starting the answer to a "Why" question with "Because".)
     
  7. markuss

    markuss Occasional commenter

    And of course, you can have main clause sentences that begin with "Because" - there's one two paragraphs above. I've sometimes had students tell me that that sort of structure is wrong because "Miss XXX said never start a sentence with "Because"".
    I've also had students who've been told it's grammatically wrong to start a sentence with "And"!
     
  8. Thank you folks, you are all very helpful!
    I also had the training of not start a sentence with because or and so that´s why I cringe when I see it but I think I am going to take a different perspective since after all, these are also students whose second languge is English.
    So you don´t correct or comment on grammar either....I speak their original language so I understand their mistakes immediately but I sometimes put myself in the shoes of an English.speaking person who wouldn´t and if wrong grammar confuses the sentences too much ie it is not almost immediately understandable, I tend not to give the mark.
    Would you agree with that too?
    I also sometimes give them a grammar mark in addition to the reading comprehension mark, Maybe I shouldn´t do this.
    Anyway I want to simplify things as I detest marking reading comprehension at the moment because it takes so long...I keep putting it off... (this is also why I don´t give the mark if an answer is not almost immediately understandable...I can´t be there all day deciphering bad grammar...)
     
  9. gruoch

    gruoch Occasional commenter

    Well, quite. I mark A2 Eng Lit and one of the criteria is about the quality of writing. If it hinders meaning, that's bottom band, no matter what the content.
    markuss, I didn't say you can't start a sentence with 'because', I simply dislike answers which read 'because she is only 17'.
     
  10. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    I'm even more confused about what you mean by 'high level' now. I don't think you are talking about A' Level or even top GCSE equivalent students. For KS3, if I set some questions on a short passage from a literary text such as, 'Why do you think he helps his aunt', I would expect an answer, "He helps his aunt because she is old and his mother has told him that he must care for her out of a sense of duty' from a Level 5 child if the information is in the text. If I got, 'Because she is old ..', I'd write 'Who is?" when I marked it. If I give them questions on a write on worksheet, and they write, "Because she ..", that's fine because it's obvious who 'she' is.
    If it's an EAL student and I understand what they're trying to say, I might correct some of the grammar, especially if the same error is repeated. For example, I would change, 'He is liking ...' into 'He likes ...'.
    But if I couldn't understand what was being said, I'd mark it with ??, meaning, 'What do you mean?'
     

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