As a lawyer and a CPA, I took my share of tests along the way. One thing I discovered, is that the test is the thing that compels you not just to study, but to learn and remember. (Sorry Governor Hashimoto, cash prizes don’t quite do it.)
But now here comes the New York Times to point out a piece in the journal, Science, which says just that.
You can study to your heart’s content, but if you don’t test yourself about what you studied, you won’t learn anything.
So let’s go back to the awful state of English teaching in Japan. What one element is usually lacking in practically every “casual” teaching situation? NO TEST.
Since there are no tests, there isn’t enough recall, and the English that gets studied never gets learned. It quickly becomes a casual waste of time.
The test can’t be one of those long-range tests, (so maybe the Bar or CPA exam doesn’t quite cut it.) It has to be kind of frequent test–the quiz–that forces you to pull the information back out of your head. I’ll tell you this much, though: when you do study for a professional certification, you almost always need to rely on prepared quiz material. That material is usually chock-full of quizzes.
I know one great way to make people’s English in Japan go up, and that is: have NHK (the Japanese national broadcasting unit) publish a book of tests to go along with the monthly Kiso Eigo. They do a little of that recall method, but not nearly enough.
No test, no progess. Would my Eikaiwa teacher readers please adopt that as a mantra? Now you have the esteemed journal Science backing you up, (not just ol’ Hoofin saying . . .)