Assessment literacy and the good language teacher: Insights and applications
There is currently a great deal of interest in language teachers’ competence in assessing language ability. Their competence in this regard, or lack of it, has much to do with their initial training and professional biases. Taking as example the teaching and learning of one specific kind of language, academic discourse, this paper discusses a number of assessment techniques that language teachers could apply to language teaching at school, or in other contexts of language tuition. Its basis is four basic principles of language assessment: reliability, validity, interpretability of results, and efficiency. These four principles are important to all assessments designed by language teachers. Some assessment techniques that have not yet widely been used to their full potential by teachers are described when different formats of language assessment are discussed. In particular, examples of effective and efficient formats of assessment will be given by referring to an analysis of a test of academic literacy administered to senior secondary school students in their pre-university year. Those examples have clear applications in other language learning settings. The paper concludes with a challenge to teachers: to experiment with new assessment designs, and to learn how to interpret the results of assessment in order to plan language instruction more effectively.
Keywords: assessment literacy; language testing; academic literacy; design principles; language ability; reliability; validity; diagnostic information; efficiency