Israel's matriculation exam in English is receiving a technological upgrade, and a virtual creature will lead oral exams, actually replacing the examiner.
Israel Hayom reports that starting this year 4th and 5th graders will be tested in English by "Alfie" - a virtual personality that will connect with examinees through a screen. The grade will continue to be awarded by human teachers who receive the exam answers.
"The big difference is that in this way, this test is more objective," says Dianne Anshefir, an English teacher at the Herzog High School at Beit Hashmonai. "In the old way it happens that a teacher doesn't see a student objectively when he decides to give him a grade. That's why I believe the grades will be better and more real."
As part of the Giving Five program starting in the current school year, the English matriculation exam has also changed in terms of software.
The computerized exam will include three parts. In the first part students will be asked to deal with questions about themselves and to tell about their families and plans for the future. In the second part, they will watch a video without words and will be asked questions about it, while in the third part they will tell in English about a project they edited. Students will record their answers and be able to listen to those recordings and then choose whether to re-record them or submit them. The exam will be allotted a time of 20-30 minutes per student.
According to Education Minister Naftali Bennett, "In the modern age, the ability to develop a conversation in English is extremely important and is a basic tool for the future of our children in almost every field of study. The test is attuned to international standards, obligates the system to adapt itself to spoken English, and encourages study in an advanced technological environment. That's how they learn English in the most advanced countries in the world. "