Book Excerpts

Excerpts from Tests that Second Language Teachers Make and Use (2019, Cambridge Scholars Publishers).


Like it or not, we are “in a relationship” with tests. As learners we have early and continuing experiences with tests. As second language teachers, our school may require us to prepare learners for large-scale tests so that they may enter university, or graduate. Teachers must award course grades, presumably based on quizzes, tests, and other sources of information. So, welcome to Tests that Second Language Teachers Make and Use! This book is a collection of fifteen actual second language tests that working teachers in six countries have made and used.

Classroom tests are an everyday feature of second and foreign language high school and college-level classrooms across the globe. Otherwise known as criterion-referenced tests or performance tests, such tests are the familiar quizzes and exams that teachers use. Yet little is known about how teachers make these tests. What are the processes by which they write tests? What knowledge sources do they draw from?

Excerpt from The Visitors (2020, Wayzgoose Press)


I think it all started with that blue ball. I had a lot of arguments with my friend Jilly about this.

Jilly told me, “Our troubles didn’t start with a blue ball. The only who’s seen it is you.”

“Bill Healy saw it,” I said. “He saw it way on the south side of town. Mabel Entringer saw it, too. But she saw it outside the colored school. That’s on the north side of town, near us.”

“Perfect,” Jilly said. “An old drunk and some colored woman.”

I had no answer to that. I liked Bill. I liked Mabel, too. I had seen the ball a dozen times in just one week. It was just a medium-sized ball. It was bigger than a baseball but a little smaller than a basketball. A child on a beach might play with a blue ball like that. You saw that color, and it meant h-o-l-i-d-a-y. I don’t know where I got the idea. I’d never seen a beach. I’d never seen an ocean. Wellington was far away from anything like that. In 1933, we had dust and sand. We had lots of wind, but no beaches, and no ocean. There was no water, really. It hadn’t rained since March. Now it was June, and getting hot.

Excerpt from The Visitors (2020, Wayzgoose Press)


1933—Clyde Barrow and gang member W.D. Jones

“What?” the older man said. Now he sounded almost angry. “I don’t want that. No ambulance, no doctor.” He looked at my Pa, hard.

Pa said, “He’s going to get a larger truck to get your car out of the river. That’s what I told him.” He turned to Lulu and said, “Honey, take little Sybil inside. Go help Myrtle find a blanket for this lady.” Lulu made a sour face, but she went.

“All right,” the older man said. He seemed to relax. He sat down on one of our porch chairs. He looked off into the darkness toward the river. “I don’t know how it happened,” he said.

“How what happened?” Pa asked.

“How I missed that bridge,” the man said.

W.D. spoke up. He was just a shape in the darkness. “I saw what happened. It was that blue ball, or something blue. It rolled across the road where you should have taken that detour.”

“I didn’t see a blue ball,” the older man said.

“Sure, it was there. Like a kid’s play ball, or something. It was like a basketball, but blue,” said W.D. “Your headlights were shining on it, and you looked over at it for just a second. That was long enough to miss the detour sign, I guess.”

The older man stood up. He sounded tired. “Well,” he said, “that makes no sense at all. It’s just bad luck.”

Excerpt from The Cell Phone Lot (2018, Gemma Media)


The last passengers were three young men. One of them was the young student who Jessica took to school because he was late to classes. “Hey!” he said. He was drunk. “I know you!! How ya doin’?”

Jessica thought, “I think I know why you can’t get up early enough for classes.”

“Hey!” said the young man. “Guys! I know her!” The other two boys laughed. They were drunk, too. “You’re reallllllyyyy cute,” said the first young man. Then he got sick all over the back of the big silver Genesis.

When Jessica got home, she spent an hour cleaning the car. She cleaned and cleaned. Finally everything came out. Even the smell. “Never again,” she thought. “I’m not working down at the bars again.” She found the passenger on her Wunderbar app and gave him one star. She wrote in the comments: “Got sick all over my car.”

Excerpt from Queen Serene (2020, Gemma Media)


Wham! Wham! Down came the fly swatter. One buzzing black fly fell. Wham! Another fly fell. It lay on its back on the truck dashboard, kicking its little legs in the air. Using a paper napkin, Queen picked the thing up. She said to the fly, “On to your next adventure.” She put it in the little garbage bag she kept in the truck. She then took some cleaning spray, and sprayed the dashboard. She got out another paper napkin and wiped everything up. That went into the garbage bag, too. By the end of the day, her little bag would be full.

Queen was having luck on the fly front. She hit whatever fly she aimed at with her blue plastic fly swatter. No flies escaped her. The

problem was, there were always more flies. Perhaps it was because she drove a garbage truck.

Excerpt from Key City on the River (2019, Gemma Media)


1833, Iowa Territory

Some men came out of the log cabins to look at the Butterman’s wagons. Two of the men looked at Nate. Then they talked to each other. The two men were rough and dirty. Penny knew what trouble looked like. And these white men looked like trouble. Penny sat up straight on the wagon. This was not good.

The two men walked across the cold ground to the wagon were Nate was. One of them, a short man, said to Nate, “Whose wagon is this?”

“This is Mr. Butterman’s wagon, sir,” said Nate. His voice was calm and quiet.

“Suh!” said the other, taller man. “Did you hear him say ‘suh’ or is that ‘sir’?”

The men laughed. The short one went behind the wagon to look at Harv. Harv moved, and pulled on his rope hard. Nate was out of the wagon faster than Penny could believe. He stood between Harv and the short, ugly man. The man was trying to untie Harv’s rope. Harv did not like it.

“Sir,” said Nate. Both men laughed loudly. Then Harv pulled his rope again. Very hard.

“Do not touch Mr. Butterman’s horse,” said Nate. Now his voice was louder. “Get back.”

‘Aunt Sunday never saw such a large river. There was so much water in it! She could hear that dark water rushing by.’

Quote from from Key City on the River (2019, Gemma Media)