Lessons From the NYSESLAT

This week my students took the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test (NYSESLAT). While it was frustrating to lose three half days to more testing, watching my students take the test was also enlightening. The listening portion on Monday was especially interesting for me.

Overall the test was pretty straightforward and my students had a pretty easy time with it. But the few questions they missed were eye-openers. I realized from their mistakes that several of my students still have trouble understanding sequence and distinguishing between similar sounding words.

While it was clear to me from day one that I was going to have to work hard to communicate with my students this year, I didn't always fully understand the gap in understanding. Witnessing some of my students totally misinterpret listening questions on the NYSESLAT gave me a greater appreciation for my students challenges with the English language. Their challenge is my own challenge as well. As a native speaker I easily forget how confusing even simple instructions and explanations may be. After seeing that confusion firsthand this week I hope I won't forget as easily in the future.


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