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Bilingual Education Reflections & Theory Building Language Skills: How Dynamic Assessment Transforms Bilingual Education

Building Language Skills: How Dynamic Assessment Transforms Bilingual Education

Many types of assessments conclude learning cycles and aim to check the results of the learning process. But how can this checking help children who did not perform well?

Let’s explore the idea of dynamic assessment, understanding that assessment should be a continuous process and an integral part of learning.

Reuven Feuerstein developed the concept of dynamic assessment in the 1950s and 1960s and is designed to assess a learner’s potential to learn by focusing on the process of learning and providing mediated learning experiences during the assessment itself. This means that from the results obtained, you can propose interventions or adjust your planning to ensure that each child advances in their learning process.

In the bilingual context, the use of dynamic assessment is essential; with each interaction with children, we have the opportunity to check their understanding and/or production and, based on this observation, offer scaffolding strategies to expand the child’s language use and see where they can go.

Dynamic assessment can be applied at two different times: immediately or as part of later planning.

Immediate Use

Suppose the following situation: you show a child a page from a book that displays a farm with many animals and ask: “Laura, can you point to the rooster?” Laura shakes her head, indicating that she cannot. At this moment, you assessed Laura’s understanding and saw that she could not complete the requested action.

formative-dynamic-assessment-teacher-observation

Instead of just marking an X on your report, indicating that she “did not understand the vocabulary,” you can choose immediate interventions to help Laura at that moment. For example, you can ask if a classmate can help her, describe the color of the animal, and ask if this hint is enough for her to identify it, or even imitate the sound the animal makes and then ask again if she can point it out. The choice of intervention will depend on what you believe is necessary for Laura’s ability to recall information, considering her learning journey.

Later Lesson Planning

Alternatively, during the same occasion, when asking if a classmate could help Laura, you might find that only two children recognize which animal is the “rooster.” This indicates the need to revisit your lesson plan to develop activities that review and extend this set of vocabulary collectively.

Therefore, dynamic assessment in bilingual contexts stands out as a reflective practice for teachers. It not only helps build children’s linguistic knowledge intentionally but also informs future interventions and planning, offering the group exactly what they need to become increasingly proficient in the second language.