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April 2017

Dear Teachers, Lecturers, Instructors, Educationalists and Examiners,

We are happy to get back to you through this newsletter and, at the very start, would like to assure you that the project “FAB – Formative Assessment Benchmarking for Foreign Language Learning & Teaching” is being put together according to plan.

We still remember with fondness the sleet in the streets, cepelinai for lunch, the town hall otherwise known as the “White Swan” just a stone’s throw away from where the River Neris meets the Neman, exceptionally friendly hosts … Fast-forward to just a month later and the temperature jumps to 20 degrees Celsius, Hungarian goulash for dinner, Turkish style architecture, the oldest university in the country… It looks like we had switched from formative assessment to exploring national cuisine and engaging in sightseeing. But no, this is just the way we fondly remember our recent FAB visits to Kaunas in Lithuania and Pécs in Hungary.

This is how our peer observations ended at an international level. Between the 20th-24th February 2017, the Vytautas Magnus University in Kaunas hosted language teachers from all the partner institutions and, between the 20th-24 March 2017, the University of Pécs had the honour of fulfilling the same task. Both of the universities can pride themselves on the perfect organization of the observations, hospitality and kind reception of the visitors. Of course, the guests put all their effort into picking as many applications of formative assessment as possible, exchanging their experiences with their counterparts from different countries, getting to know the students, their needs and strengths. Special focus was placed on the issue of the language policies of the host institutions. We would like to express our gratitude to the organizers of all the observations, because the project would be a lot less successful without their effort and resourcefulness. You are welcome to see the reports from the visits which are available on our website.

However, during this busy period, we have not neglected our current project tasks. On the 24th March, teachers from various institutions were invited to a workshop at the University of Warsaw run by Danuta Sterna and Beata Konstanty, who have been tirelessly implementing formative assessment in elementary, secondary and high schools for many years. Twenty-eight enthusiasts took part in this training, entitled “Formative Assessment in Foreign Language Teaching”, and the report can be viewed here. What is more, the questionnaires for teachers and students which conclude the project are available for reference here.

We would also like to remind you that the “Formative Assessment in Foreign Language Teaching” conference takes place on the 19th September 2017. The registration form is available here and we are still accepting proposals for papers and workshops. We will have the honour of having among others, Grażyna Czetwertyńska, PhD (Artes Liberales, University of Warsaw); Jon Hird (Oxford University) and Grzegorz Śpiewak, PhD (Macmillan) as speakers. We look forward to seeing you there!

What are our planned activities for the immediate future? Well, we are currently working on the formative assessment guidebook for teachers and students, which will be available on our website in just a few months. It is worth mentioning at this point that the objective of the peer observations, both on an intra-national and international level, was to collect data for this publication. It will make it possible to implement the theoretical and practical aspects of formative assessment to all teachers interested in improving the effectiveness of their work. Furthermore, we have one more Transnational Project Meeting in Pécs in June. This will give us the chance to sum up what has been done by then and to plan the details of the conference.

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We wish you all the best and hope you are going to keep implementing formative assessment as much as you have been doing so far.

THE FAB PROJECT TEAM – University of Warsaw, Poland