THE ROLE AND PLACE OF TEACHING FOR AN INTERNATIONAL EXAMINATION IN A FOREIGN LANGUAGE COURSE AT A UNIVERSITY
The article aims at identifying the role and place of teaching for an international examination as an element of a foreign language course at a modern University. The paper provides the results of the initial study obtained through the questionnaire of students majoring in non-linguistic subjects who had previously taken IELTS for academic purposes. The research was focused on those who had been taught for their exam at the University to find out their attitude towards the inclusion of this element into the course curriculum, the efficiency of studying for international exams at group classes and the role testwiseness plays in successful examination.
Surprisingly, the respondents' answers were equally distributed between the general knowledge of foreign language vocabulary and grammar on the one hand, and awareness of the examination format on the other, which disproved the hypothesis of the latter being more significant; whereas the initial expectations of the overall preferences of studying for examinations at a University turned out to be totally satisfied.
The second stage of the research measured the academic performance in the experimental and control groups, who were doing the EFL course during one academic term, through two IELTS-based tests. The entrance levels of foreign language competences in both groups were roughly similar. The control group students were given intensive practice in relevant skills development, no focus made on the task types or universal skills fostering, whereas the learners in the experimental group were both instructed to do the particular exercises in order to build their testwiseness (50% of the class time) and exposed to language learning (50% of the class time). While developing their testwiseness, different kinds of meta- and general universal skills, i.e. analytical thinking, attention control, navigating the trade-off between speed and accuracy as well as task tips, were focused on. The students in both groups had the same number of academic hours. The final test revealed slightly better results of the control group participants, though the difference was not as significant as expected.
Above all, the main types of common difficulties were analyzed and systemized and possible ways of avoiding them at University classes were considered.