Categories
Linguistics

Articles on Language testing:a summary and critique

Language Testing

Article:  Expanding Horizons and Unresolved Conundrums: Language Testing an Assessment by Constant Leung and Jo Lewkowicz.

Summary: This article examines issues in English language testing which relate to instruction and curriculum. Specific issues are highlighted, such as formal testing and assessment, issues with testing authenticity related to the target language, and concerns about the validity, ethics and alternative assessment of standardized psychometric testing. The literature explores a review of progress made from a previous research study of psychometric language testing and how far it has come in fifteen years. Additionally, the study reviews future developments in the research. 

Critique: It is interesting to note that the article points out that performance tests for the purpose of testing language are sometimes too complicated and may skew the authenticity of the results. This might be because of social issues involved with interactions between people who speak different languages. For example, the interaction between the test taker and the test administrator may negatively impact oral proficiency testing. The article does a thorough job in explaining that student placement decisions often depend on the results from language testing and may be inaccurate because of errors in the testing process. The article also does a thorough job of highlighting further discussions about language testing initiatives and giving more attention to types of testing tasks and texts within the tests. This is necessary to promote adequate communication between students and interlocutors. Additionally, there are adequate suggestions about engaging students in tasks that are more complex and holistic, to provide a more intellectually challenging assessment for students, which is a way to promote better outcomes.

Article: Who Is Given Tests in What Language by Whom, When, and Where? The Need for Probabilistic Views of Language in the Testing of English Language Learners by Guillermo Solano-Flores.

Summary: This article examines issues concerning the process of testing English language learners (ELLs). This process shows communication issues are present due to inadequate implementation of the testing procedures, how tests are administered, who administers them and when, and who completes the tests and where. The article focuses on different language behaviors, and the way bilingual people interact and communicate in social settings and how they choose when to use each language in which they are fluent.

Critique: This article highlights that people interact differently, depending on whether they are in formal or informal settings, such as at work or with people they know. This is the focus of this article; determining the reasons behind unfair and unsound language testing for ELLs. The article gives a sound argument against current practices of language testing for ELLs that do not take into account the social aspect of ELL groups. They are often simply lumped into only a few language proficiency categories and all ELLs are treated as if they are linguistically the same. The article successfully argues for the fact that ELLs are not the same. They are diverse in language, family histories, and their formal language instruction experiences. A good idea is suggested to remedy this and that is addressing randomness in the testing process. The article gives a thorough account of implementing a better language testing system for students, by analyzing variances in ELL communication through the assessment system and its current limited ability for producing valid academic measures.

References

Leung, C., & Lewkowicz, J. (2006, March). Expanding Horizons and Unresolved Conundrums: Language Testing and Assessment. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 211-234.

Solano-Flores, G. (2008, May). Who Is Given Tests in What Language by Whom, When, and Where? The Need for Probabilistic Views of Language in the Testing of English Language Learners. Educational Researcher, 37(4), 189-199.