How to Assess Grammar and Lexis

Manuel Campos


Before we deal with the aspect to take into account to assess grammar and lexis, let’s take some time to analyze these important Concepts

  1. Vocabulary: Individual words in a language.
  2. Washback: The effect that a test has on the teaching and learning that leads to it.
  3. Grammars: The structures that hold the language together.
  4. Lexis: Words, phrases, and expressions that make meaning blocks in a language.
  5. Syntax: The correct order of words in a sentence to carry the intended meaning.
  6. Communicative Approach: The principle that language is best learned by using in meaningful activities with others.
  7. Semantics: The meaning of a particular word or set of words.
  8. Integrated Approach: Integrative language testing is based on the unitary trait hypothesis, which states that language is indivisible.
  9. Discrete Approach: A discrete item is an item of language isolated from context.

Now that you know those basic concepts, you should decide if you want to assess grammar and lexis using the integrated approach or the discrete approach. There are benefits to using both approaches.

Benefits of the Approaches to Assess Grammar and Lexis

The Discrete Approach to assessment can help you:

  1. Focus on specific areas.
  2. Understand why students make specific errors.
  3. Track progress against syllabus aims and objectives
  4. Make marking and scoring easier

The Integrated Approach to Assessment can help you:

  1. To make learners see what the big picture is, I  mean seeing English as a mean of communication and not as a subject
  2. Encourage students to pay more attention to communication in class.
  3. Create with ease speaking and writing tasks
  4. Focus on language instead of knowledge

Testing and Assessing Grammar

When working with grammar in terms of assessment, we need to be clear about whether we are interested in:

1. Syntactic knowledge of grammar, and its metalanguage: The terminology we use to describe structures and tenses.

2. Communicative use of grammar: Learners’ ability to select the appropriate structures in active language use to convey their desired meaning.

Learning the level of a text

You should know the level of text to assess grammar and lexis. There are different tools that can help you know the level of  words within a text, you must take a look at these great vocabulary Profilers:

  1. The English Profile, The CEFR  for English
  2. Lexical Tutor – Vocabulary Profiler
  3. Vocab Kitchen – CEFR Vocabulary Profiler

All those tools will tell you the level of the words within a text based on the Common European Framework of Reference for Language or based in the General Service or Academic list. For more information on these tools, read my article called 3 Vocabulary Profilers that will help you Analyze Texts Effectively

More Teaching Articles

I hope that you have found what you were looking for about assessing grammar and lexis.

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Manuel Campos, Docente de Inglés

About manuel Campos

I am Jose Manuel, English professor and creator of, a blog whose mission is to share lessons for those who want to learn and improve their English

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