Zero for all: what is common between the exam in English and a passage through a minefield

Summer 2018 once again brought a number of scandals related to the exam, including in the field of foreign language, which traditionally pass with fairly good results. The most striking you can call the incident in Sverdlovsk region, where more than 200 graduates received zero points for the essay. Schoolchildren “hacked to death” at the stage of identifying the problem, proposing his point of view and to bring arguments to support it. In fact, they were not even allowed access to demonstrations of knowledge of the English language.


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Zero for all

Appeal failed – the graduates and their parents refused to constructive dialogue. Scans of some works can be found in the public domain, where their lecturing teachers and parents: essay is written very well, not without flaws, but definitely not zero. However, examiners felt that the children did not fulfill the “communication task”, that is not able to correctly formulate their own thoughts.

An essay is a fourteen primary points, that is zero for the essay leaves eighty-six points out of a hundred, and it is not the most competitive score. So what needs to be done to get this with a zero but to submit a blank form?

An essay in a foreign language is assessed according to five criteria, the first of which – the decision of the communicative tasks. If we translate this with the official language in more down to earth, for the solution of KZ graduate should just write an essay on this in the job plan without missing a single item, and use the so-called “formal style”, the scope of which varies slightly from year to year, but the main principles remain the same – no cuts, no informal words and colloquial expressions.

This year, the Treasury prohibited language means hit and rhetorical questions, although I use them, on the contrary, encouraged. Information of methodical materials for the chairs and the members of the subject commissions of the constituent entities of the Russian Federation on the implementation of the detailed answers by the examination papers of the exam in 2018, which can be found on the website FIPI “in the egg, egg in a casket, the casket is in a duck”… well, it’s not so easy if you don’t know what you’re looking for.

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In any case, the problem seems simple. The problem is that getting a zero for the solution of KZ (maximum number of points – three), the graduate automatically receives a zero for everything – and vocabulary and grammar, and for processing and for the spelling with punctuation, that is, for all criteria that are relevant directly to language proficiency.

Exam or passage through a minefield

Of course, then the question arises: is it really so hard to just write according to plan? Let’s see. For example, you are given the statement “Sport unites people” (the subject is dismantled in the teaching materials). The first point in the plan is: “Write an introduction (identify the issue)”. If the problem is not marked – minus score.

Next you need to identify their point of view and allow two to three arguments in its support. Look at examples of the arguments and their analysis of teaching materials: “Because it’s a great way to spend time together” and “I think through sport you can find new friends.” Both arguments are not recommended to be counted, as in the first case, “does not seem to support the idea that sport unites, but only notes that sport is a good way to spend time together.”

The second argument is not an argument, since it is a “rather detailed view about what they say anticipating his words, I think [I think]”. With this approach, the selection and wording of argumentation with the aim to make it as understandable for a hypothetical expert turns into a passage through a minefield, on which of the three hour written exam (which includes the twenty-five minutes of listening, I would have time carefully to move all forms) generously allotted forty minutes, during which essay I should write to and from, respecting the style, and preferably without making mistakes. And how stressful is the atmosphere at the exams, however.

But the judge is always right

Of course, experts are people too. They examine the work in silence, under the cameras and without the right to carry on check anything, except the passport and water. They know that if the argument is unclear or seems inconclusive, it is necessary to put a minus (but many are still trying to avoid zeros for the first criterion, since single-the score in most cases, there really is something to put).

But still the question arises – why is the “universal intelligibility” of all three points, having very little to do with language as such, is considered a more important criterion than mastering a foreign language?

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Can each of us, bearers of the Russian language, to boast that for forty minutes will be able to decide whether he agrees with the fact that friendship is the greatest gift in life (the subject of the essay in Moscow), identify the problem in the introduction, lead the two-three arguments for their point of view, one or two against, then to deny these same one or two arguments against it from the previous paragraph, write a conclusion, and all this in Russian?

As for the incident in Sverdlovsk region, where the theme was: “Digital literacy is key to success in any occupation” – “Digital/computer literacy – the key to success in any profession”.

“Daughters of the expert first strictly reminded that an essay is for profile study. Digital literacy in the profession – the use of microwaves as a cook and sophisticated instruments doctor. And we have a computer and the Internet, not the topic. Therefore 0”. Here I would like to disagree, because, after all, English dictionaries digital literacy is defined as “the ability to find, evaluate, use, transfer and create information material using information technology and the Internet.” But in this situation, the experts had their own vision, and the expert is always right. If wrong, see previous sentence.

What checks exam

About what topics in different regions of the unequal terms of difficulty, probably, not to mention that even in Moscow in reserve day wrote more than about friendship, and about the fact that “it is not necessary to pay attention to fashion” – still there to come up with arguments easier than about the importance of friendship.

What I want to say in the end?

Of course, it is possible to holes to read all the materials (only ninety-five pages to the written part), write a hundred essays and learn how to get in the opinions of experts like William tell hit the Apple, explaining on fingers all that can be correctly interpreted.

But the problem is that this way of checking knowledge of the language of this part of the exam turns into a test of the ability to think on a template, which can test any expert, regardless of the knowledge, skills and desire to once again get into the dictionary. Not the most exciting prospect, whatever you say.

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