Browsing English language learning and assessment by Subjects
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Effective feedback: the key to successful assessment for learningThis paper focuses on the quality, process, and management of feedback, and how it can be used constructively to move learning forward.
Investigating examiner interventions in relation to the listening demands they make on candidates in oral interview testsExaminers intervene in second language oral interviews in order to elicit intended language functions, to probe a candidate’s proficiency level or to keep the interaction going. Interventions of this kind can affect the candidate’s output language and score, since the candidate is obliged to process them as a listener and respond to them as a speaker. This chapter reports on a study that examined forty audio-recorded interviews of the oral test of a major European examination board, with a view to examining examiner interventions (i.e., questions, comments) in relation to the listening demands they make upon candidates. Half of the interviews involved candidates who scored highly on the test while the other half featured low-scoring candidates. This enabled a comparison of the language and behaviour of the same examiner across candidate proficiency levels, to see how they were modified in response to the communicative competence of the candidate. The recordings were transcribed and analyzed with regard to a) types of examiner intervention in terms of linguistic and pragmatic features and b) the extent to which the interventions varied in response to the proficiency level of the candidate. The study provides a new insight into examiner-examinee interactions, by identifying how examiners are differentiating listening demands according to the task types and the perceived proficiency level of the candidate. It offers several implications about the ways in which examiner interventions engage candidates’ listening skills, and the ways in which listening skills can be more validly and reliably measured when using a format based on examiner-candidate interaction.
A new test for China? Stages in the development of an assessment for professional purposes.It is increasingly recognised that attention should be paid to investigating the needs of a new test, especially in contexts where specific purpose language needs might be identified. This article describes the stages involved in establishing the need for a new assessment of English for professional purposes in China. We first investigated stakeholders’ perceptions of the target language use activities and the necessity of the proposed assessment. We then analysed five existing tests and six language frameworks to evaluate their suitability for the need of the proposed assessment. The resulting proposal is for an advanced-level English assessment capable of providing a diagnostic evaluation of the proficiency of potential employees in areas of relevance to multinationals operating in China. The study has demonstrated the value of following a principled procedure to investigate the necessity for and the needs of a new test at the very beginning of the test development
Purposes of assessmentCommissioned as the lead paper in the Volume, this chapter shows how the terms assessment, testing, examining and evaluation have become increasingly intertwined, and multiple new terms have emerged. The chapter takes a somewhat historical view as it lays out a picture of the ways that the field of language ‘assessment’ has expanded its knowledge and skills but also its socio-political effects. Taking the notion of ‘purposes’ as a broad organizing principle, the chapter is intended to introduce new readers in this field to the wide range of issues current in the field, and prepare them for the more specific chapters that follow.