Nearly 80,000 words later…! All collections for the NZCALNE (Voc) are now live on Pathways Awarua.

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If you follow my blog, you’ll know that over the last eight months I have only posted content relating to the new NZCALNE (Voc).

Well… we’re done. I finished the writing a few months back, but I’m very happy to report that all seven collections including all the new and revised content are now live on Pathways Awarua.

If you’re already registered, you’ll automatically have access to all of the new content. If you’re not, you can enrol as a new tertiary educator.

This has been a mammoth writing project with something close to 77,000 words of new and updated content.

I kinda feel like I’ve said everything I want to say about the NZCALNE (Voc). My sincere thanks to the awesome team at Pathways Awarua.

What’s next…? Probably, more of the same, but I’m open to ideas. Let me know.

Cheers, Graeme


NZCALNE Collection 4 is now live on Pathways

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Good news… I know you’ve seen it here in draft form, but Collection 4 of the NZCALNE (Voc) is now live in Pathways Awarua.

Collection 4 on Pathways Awarua covers a couple of key things before we dive into the teaching and assessing components and related project work over Collections 5, 6, and 7.

Here’s what’s inside… What you need to know about:

  • Developing and focusing on some broad strategies for embedding literacy and numeracy at the “big picture” programme level.
  • Structuring and writing specific learning outcomes for embedding literacy and numeracy into your teaching sessions.

There’s a pattern going on here that some of you will have noticed…

  • GENERAL ==> Specific

This is intentional. It’s less obvious with the first few Collections but it should be obvious when you get to the assessment task for Collection 4. This pattern is woven through all of Collections 1 to 4. And continues through 5 as well. The pa

This pattern is woven through all of Collections 1 to 5 as well. But the pattern changes in Collection 6 which is all specific application. This practical application of knowledge and skills is what the course is building towards.

Finally, the pattern reverses in Collection 7 as we want to zoom out from the specifics to the general again.

If you’re curious:

From the general To the specific
1. Understanding definitions, Frameworks, Factors Describing how these to your own teaching context, content, and learners
2. Understanding approaches and concepts from ALNE, Te Ao Māori, and adult teaching Describing how these to your own teaching context, content, and learners
3. Using the Learning Progressions to analyse “big picture” literacy and numeracy programme demands in terms of broad strands and progressions Using the Learning Progressions to analyse specific literacy and numeracy demands from samples of teaching resources in terms of specific steps from key progressions.
4. Building on 1 to 3 to develop “big picture” strategies for embedding literacy and numeracy at programme level. Building on 1 to 3 to develop specific learning outcomes for embedding literacy and numeracy into teaching sessions.
5. Using the Assessment Tool to get “broad brush strokes” diagnostic information about learners Developing and using contextualised literacy and numeracy assessments to get specific diagnostic information about learners; developing individual learning plans


6. Planning and facilitating teaching sessions designed to embed specific aspects of literacy and numeracy; Applying key aspects of relevant frameworks, approaches, and concepts to specific teaching sessions
To the general From the specific
7. Assessing specific literacy and numeracy progress. Reviewing the whole project with a view to changes, improvements, implications, future goals.

BEFORE: More examples – Listening and speaking diagnostics

Examples of literacy diagnostic assessments from the Learning Progressions Resources

You may already have a good idea of what you want to do for your contextualised literacy diagnostic. If you’re unsure, vocabulary is a good option.

Or you may wish to tackle other specific literacy skills. If you do, the supporting resources for the Learning Progressions contain a range of different diagnostic assessments that you could use for ideas or modify to suit your context.

  • Skip this section if you already know what you are doing for your contextualised literacy diagnostic.

But if you’re still looking for ideas, here is a smorgasbord of mostly generic diagnostic assessments that you could contextualise for your own purposes.

Teaching Adults to Listen and speak to communicate

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You might have already downloaded this publication when you were working on Collection 3. If not, you can download it here.

There are four ideas for diagnostic assessments. If you already know what you’re doing for your contextualised literacy assessment you can skip this. 

Tutor checklist for observing discussions

  • This tutor checklist could be useful if you wanted to focus your learning outcome on interactive listening and speaking including group discussion in a particular context.
  • You can find it on pages 10-11 and 57 of the PDF download or in the printed version if you have one.
  • Even if you don’t use it, the idea of using a checklist for assessment purposes is a good one. This aligns with the idea that literacy should include behaviours that you can observe.

Listening and speaking attitude survey

  • This learner self-assessment is quite long and set up for an academic situation. But it would be easy to cut it down to size and adapt to a workplace or other context.
  • You can find this on pages 58- 61.
  • There are ideas for follow-up discussions with learners as well.

Diagnostic listening assessment using recorded texts

  • This diagnostic is involved and requires you to use the CD that comes with the book or the audio files.
  • If you don’t have the CD you can download the full set of audio files here as well as the transcripts.
  • You can find this on pages 62-75.
  • There is a lot of detail here and you might not need it all. However, if you’re interested in designing listening assessments for your own contexts this may give you ideas.

Diagnostic speaking assessment observation

  • This one relies on tutor observation and mapping the learner being observed against the relevant progressions for speaking.
  • It’s very detailed, but you may find that you can take aspects of it and adapt to your own purposes.
  • You can find this on pages 76-81.

BEFORE: More examples – a contextualised vocabulary diagnostic for farming


What are some more examples of other literacy diagnostics that you can adapt or modify?

Contextualised vocabulary assessment for farming and agriculture

Here’s an example of a set of contextualised vocabulary diagnostic questions plus learning outcome from a farming and agriculture context. This set of questions is part of a larger set the tutors brainstormed using word banks. The vocabulary moves through basic everyday language to the more complex terminology used in farming.

This set of questions is part of a larger set the tutors brainstormed using word banks and the process outlined earlier. The vocabulary moves through basic everyday language to the more complex terminology used in farming.

Tutor’s learning outcome

Students will be able to:

  • Explain specialised words used in the context of basic farming and agriculture

Words you need to know for farming

Fill in the missing words. Skip a word if you are unsure.

  1. Wool comes from she____________.
  2. The farmer feeds mi____________ to his calves.
  3. Cat____________ includes dairy and beef animals.
  4. A we____________ is a plant that grows where it is not wanted.
  5. Mature male cattle are called bu____________.
  6. A yea____________ is a one year-old animal.
  7. Removing extra water from a paddock is called dra ____________.
  8. Artificial ins____________ is used to get cows in calf.
  9. Irr____________ is the application of water to a paddock or crop when the weather is dry.
  10. Farmers use ant____________ to treat bacterial infections.

What vocabulary do you need to be testing and teaching?

Pro tips for creating your own contextualised vocabulary diagnostic assessments


You can skip this section if you like. These are pro-tips for those who are interested.

  • We don’t expect you to adopt these approaches if you are doing the NZCALNE (Voc).

But if you are interested in developing better, contextualised vocabulary assessments there are a couple of other things you can experiment with.

Both of these approaches are borrowed from the world of second language teaching. Here they are:

1. Use plain-English explanations and definitions

If you follow the process that we outlined earlier for creating vocabulary assessments, you’ll need sentences for your learners to read that use the keywords you identified in your word bank.

You have a couple of choices when it comes to how you get your sentences.

  • You can write them yourself.
  • You can lift them from your course or other material and use them as they are.
  • You can adapt or simplify them from your course or other material.
  • You can copy them from a dictionary that only uses plain-English explanations.

Let’s deal with the last option first. Rather than writing your own explanations and definitions, you may be able to use explanations and definitions that someone else has already written for you in plain English.

You can’t use a normal dictionary. A standard dictionary, like the Concise Oxford, for example, is written for highly literate readers. If you use explanations from a regular dictionary like this you’ll just introduce more new and complicated vocabulary.

What you can use sometimes is explanations and definitions from language learning dictionaries. These are written for ESOL learners but they also work well for foundation learners too.

The reason they’re great for explanations is that these dictionary writers work with a controlled set of high-frequency words for their definitions. This means that you won’t find new and complicated vocabulary in any of the definitions.

Also, because they are focused on helping people learn new words, they often include examples where the word is used in context. This won’t be your context most probably, but it’s a place to start for ideas if you need it. 

Many of these dictionaries are online and free to use.

Here’s how to use the online dictionary above if we take an example from our financial literacy scenario.

  1. Lookup a word that we want to use. E.g, “asset”
  2. Identify the plain English definition that you need. E.g. “something belonging to an individual or a business that has value or the power to earn money.”
  3. Identify any example sentences from different contexts that you could use or adapt. E.g. “The company has a tremendous asset – 50 hectares of real estate right next to an international airport.”
  4. Adapt or modify as needed. E.g. “An asset is something that belongs to you that has value or the power to earn money.”

Now you have a very nice, plain-English sentence that you can use in your vocabulary diagnostic.

2. Work with targeted vocabulary lists.

There are also tools online that you can use for analysing and writing sentences in plain English.

The Vocab Profiler looks complicated but it’s easy once you know how to use it. The way it works is to sort out words into different categories. The categories relate to how often the words are used in everyday English.

We’ve mentioned these categories before, but they include:

  • 1K: The first 1000 most frequently used words in English.
  • 2K: The second 1000 most frequently used words in English.
  • AWL: The academic word list.
  • Off list: Words that are not in any of the three lists above.

Here’s how you use it:

  1. Find a text that your learners have to read that you have an electronic copy of.
  2. Cut and paste the text or a section of it into the Vocab Profiler.
  3. Hit submit.
  4. The scroll down and see how it sorts the words into the different categories. There is also different kinds of data about the words you are analysing.

Now you can work with the lists of words in the different categories ranging from easy to more difficult depending on the needs of your learners.

The Learning Progressions were never designed to align with these categories, but you can match them up roughly. Our Word Bank worksheets (Steps 1 – 3 and Steps 3 – 6) offer some suggestions about which lists align with which steps. Feel free to adapt or modify these to suit your own purposes though. 

This is definitely extra for experts. We don’t expect you to use Vocab Profiler for this course, but it’s there if you want to have a play.

Also, to get back to the list of ways that you can generate sentences for test items, you can also use the vocab profiler to help you simplify your writing when you’re writing your own sentences or when you’re adapting sentences from other material.

BEFORE: How do I create a contextualised vocab diagnostic I can use?


How do I create my own contextualised vocab diagnostic?

If your learners have a basic vocabulary of around 2,000 high-frequency words, it’s likely that they can understand roughly 80% of the words in an academic text. If the text is highly technical, then it gets harder

But your learners need to know around 95% of the words in a text before they can successfully guess the meanings of any other unknown words and actually make sense of the text.

This means that any work you do around vocabulary is going to be helpful. But you need to get a sense of what they do and don’t know. That’s why you need a good vocab diagnostic assessment.

The simplest way to create a contextualised vocabulary diagnostic is to brainstorm a word bank that is focused the specific content that you need to teach. A word bank is just a list of words that relate to your context. You can use this to create and organise simple question items.

Here’s the process:

1. Revisit your learning outcome

In your last assessment task, you had to write some broad programme strategies, and then develop some more specific learning outcomes. You should have one for literacy and one for numeracy. We’ll come back to the numeracy outcome. For now, you need you literacy outcome.

Let’s look at the process below. And let’s use a scenario to put this into action in a particular context. Here’s the scenario. See if you can think how you would adapt this to your own context:

  • You’re teaching an introduction to financial literacy to a group of adults in a foundation learning class. You know that they’re going to struggle with the new financial vocabulary and technical jargon.

Your learning outcome for this scenario might look something like this:

  • Explain specialised words used in the context of an introduction to basic financial literacy.

In other words, you’re teaching financial literacy and you want to embed some of the jargon to make sure people understand what you’re talking about and what they read in the course materials.

Just an aside: It’s ok to tinker with your learning outcome as well. You might want to do this if you need to tidy it up because your thinking has changed you.

You’re not locked into what you wrote in your last assessment. However, remember that your decisions should be based on what you know about the demands of your programme, what you’re learning about your learners and the direction that you’ve set in your literacy strategy.

2. Create a word bank

What you need next is a big list of relevant words. These words:

  • Should relate to your content and context.
  • Should connect with your literacy learning outcome.
  • Need to be sorted into categories. These categories are relevant steps in the Learning Progressions.

If you’re new to creating word banks you might want to do it like this. First, generate a big list of words. Second, sort these into relevant categories and steps.

If you’ve done this before, or you know what you’re doing you might want to just brainstorm words directly into the right categories and step as we describe below.

Most tutors will be working with words between steps 3 to 6. This is the case for trades or any programme or job that uses specialised or technical jargon. Some tutors may be working with very basic vocabulary such as some ESOL or other foundation learners.

You can download a worksheet for working each of these categories below:

The worksheet is not part of your assessed work. But it will help you brainstorm and sort out vocabulary that you can use. Brainstorm the words and then list them in the appropriate categories.

Here are the categories. These in the worksheets and adapted from the Learning Progressions.

Familiar words – Step 1
  • List words that relate to everyday topics and personal experiences.
  • You can Include useful or familiar words, names, phrases and common high-use words.
  • ESOL tip: consider words from the first 500 content word list.
Everyday words – Step 2
  • List words that relate to everyday topics and personal experiences.
  • You can include words used in simple requests, instructions, greetings and short explanations.
  • ESOL tip: consider words from the first thousand word list (1K).
Everyday words – Step 3
  • List high-use, everyday words that relate to your content and context.
  • You can include some less common words including words relating to work, community and learning.
  • ESOL tip: consider words from the second thousand (2K) word list.
Academic words – Step 4/5
  • List academic words you need for your content and context.
  • Think of words that describe processes or academic tasks.
  • You can include some high-use specialised words.
  • ESOL tip: Consider words from the academic word list (AWL).
  • Highly specialised or technical words should be in the list below.
Technical words – Step 6
  • List the more highly specialised and technical words you need for your content and context.
  • Think of the jargon of your trade or content area including specialised acronyms and informal language.
  • ESOL tip: Consider using words outside of the 1K, 2K, and AWL.

If we continue with our example, your brainstorming for financial literacy might look something like this:

Everyday words

(1K and 2K)

Step 3

salary, loan, debt, trade, expense, interest

Academic words


Step 4/5

percentage, invest, income, fund, bond, automate, accumulate, calculate

Technical words

(Off list)

Step 6

capital, balance, asset, passive income, mutual fund, profit, real estate

Pro tip: The trick is not to get too bogged down in rules for your categories. Think of them as guidelines. Be flexible. There is a degree of subjectivity involved, but don’t forget that you are the subject area expert here. After a while, you’ll develop a feel for what goes where.

If you need a set of rules and you’re an ESOL teacher you can experiment with using targeted word lists as a starting point. We used the word lists from the first (1K) and second thousand (2K) words of English and the Academic Word List to help categorise our words. But you don’t need to do this.

3. Use your word bank to create question items

Once you have a word bank for a particular aspect of teaching, there are all sorts of things you can use it for. Here we’re only concerned with creating mini vocabulary diagnostic assessments for pre and post testing of learner knowledge.

But you might want to keep your word bank in mind for the next assessment where you will need to creating fun activities to teach and practise the language.

There are many different formats for writing question items. We’re just going to look at one. This is what we call a partial cloze. It’s a format borrowed from second language teaching and it works equally well for foundation learning in general.

Here’s how it works.

Write a sentence using the keyword from your word bank. Here are a couple of examples using words from our financial literacy word bank:

  • A loan is an amount of money that you borrow from a bank.
  • Investing is when you buy shares, property or goods because you hope the value will increase and you can make a profit.

Then, you gap out most of the word leaving only the first three (or sometimes two) letters. Important: Only test one word per sentence.

  • A lo_________ is an amount of money that you borrow from a bank.
  • Inv__________ is when you buy shares, property or goods because you hope the value will increase and you can make a profit.

Using this format has several advantages.

  • If a learner knows the word, they’ll write it down.
  • If it’s a new or unfamiliar word, then you’ve given them enough (but not too much) of a hint to jog their memory or see if they can guess it.
  • If they don’t know it, you should tell them to skip it and move to the next item.
  • You can choose to focus on spelling or meaning, or both. Sometimes, you may wish to ignore spelling and just go for meaning.
  • As the assessment creator, you only need to think of sentences using each word. These can be explanations or even lifted from course materials.
  • You don’t need to create a separate box on the page with the words in it.

Here’s the completed vocabulary diagnostic using a selection of words from the word bank

Words you need to know for financial literacy

Fill in the missing words. Skip a word if you are unsure.

  1. Money or property are known as cap_______________.
  2. Exp_______________ are cash going out.
  3. Int_______________ is the extra money paid to you by someone when you loan them money.
  4. Another name for buying and selling goods and services is tra_______________.
  5. The amount of money that you have in your bank account is your bal_______________.
  6. Cal_______________ means finding out how much something will cost by using numbers.
  7. When you owe money to someone you are in de_______________.
  8. A lo_______________ is an amount of money that you borrow from a bank.
  9. If you acc_______________ a lot of money, it means you get a lot of money.
  10. Inc_______________ is cash coming in.
  11. Inv_______________ is when you buy shares, property or goods because you hope that the value will increase and you can make a profit.
  12. A per_______________ is an amount expressed as if it is part of a total which is 100.
  13. Pro_______________ is money that you gain by selling things or doing business after you pay your costs.
  14. An as_______________ is something that puts money in your pocket, without much work.

There’s no answer key here, but you may want to create an answer key for yours when you make it.

If you want to, you can download the example as a word document too.

BEFORE: How do I create my own contextualised literacy diagnostic?


Next, you need to develop and use your own contextualised literacy assessment that targets a specific skill that you want to strengthen. You’ll need to use this with your learners and report back on the results.

Where are the examples for me to look at?

They’re coming. You can skip ahead and come back here if you like. Just make sure you understand the requirements are.

Before we get to the examples, we need to make sure that you’re clear about the connections between what you mapped earlier, the broad strategies and much narrower learning outcomes that you wrote, these diagnostics that you’re planning, and the teaching activities you’ll design to go with them.

How does my contextualised literacy diagnostic fit into the embedding process?

Here’s a review of how the embedding process works and how you should be thinking about where you’re up to:

Knowing the demands.

  • You know the literacy demands. You’ve already mapped key demands of your programme and some samples of your teaching material (Assessment 3). This allowed you to design some broad strategies for embedding important aspects of literacy into your programme. You also drafted some more specific learning outcomes for embedding into your teaching (Assessment 4).

Knowing the learner.

  • You’re up to here. You can use one of the Assessment Tool options to get some “big picture” diagnostic information about your learners. You can ask your learners to self-assess so you can measure their confidence. Now, you need to zoom in and get some very specific literacy diagnostic information about your learners. You need to revisit the learning outcomes you wrote and use them to design a contextualised assessment. You can use this now for diagnostic purposes (Assessment 5) and then again later to measure progress (Assessment 7).

Knowing what to do.

  • That’s your next task (Assessment 6). Once you’ve designed and used your contextualised literacy assessment you’ll have quite a lot of information about where your learners are at in terms of their literacy abilities. And you can use this information to plan and then facilitate at least three sessions with your learners. This is where you embed very targeted literacy content into your own teaching content and context.

Do I have to use a contextualised literacy diagnostic?

Contextualising assessments is an important part of the embedding process. And yes, you have to use a contextualised assessment for both literacy and numeracy.

It’s up to you whether you create something from scratch though. You are welcome to adapt or modify an existing diagnostic.

We’ll show you plenty of examples so you’re welcome to contextualise one of the ones that we show you. Or, if you already have some in your organisation you can use those.

If you’re using an already designed diagnostic it has to be “fit for purpose”. This means that you have to make sure it really matches the needs of your programme and your learners.

Also, you need to make sure that the links are clear from your learning outcome for embedding literacy to this diagnostic assessment and on to your teaching activities and resources.

When you write up your results in the template for Assessment 5 you’ll be able to let us know which direction you took with this.

What do I have to provide as evidence for the NZCALNE (Voc)?

As supporting evidence for this qualification, you need to supply completed contextualised literacy diagnostics for at least two learners. These are the same two learners from your group that you are working with through Assessments 5, 6 and 7.

You should supply these assessments electronically as scans or images once your learners have completed them.

You can blank out learner names if you need to make them anonymous. Just make sure that they are the same Learner A and Learner B all the way through.

Here it is again. You’ll need to collect and then supply scanned copies or images as follows:

  • Learner A: Completed contextualised literacy diagnostic assessment.
  • Learner B: Completed contextualised literacy diagnostic assessment.

Next up: How to create your own contextualised vocabulary diagnostic and examples of other literacy diagnostics you can adapt or modify.