Understanding Language Testing

Understanding Language Testing

Understanding Language Testing

Understanding Language Testing

Synopsis

Understanding Language Testingpresents an introduction to language tests and the process of test development that starts at the very beginning. Assuming no knowledge of the field, the book promotes a practical understanding of language testing using examples from a variety of languages.
While grounded on solid theoretical principles, the book focuses on fostering a true understanding of the various uses of language tests and the process of test development, scoring test performance, analyzing and interpreting test results, and above all, using tests as ethically and fairly as possible so that test takers are given every opportunity to do their best, to learn as much as possible, and feel positive about their language learning.
Each chapter includes a summary, suggestions for further reading, and exercises. As such this is the ideal book for both beginning students of linguistics and language education, or anyone in a related discipline looking for a first introduction to language testing.

Excerpt

Language testing has developed a reputation as something of an arcane art, the province of highly trained experts, often far removed from ordinary language classrooms and even from real world language use. Language tests are often handed down from on high without regard for learners’ prior experiences and background, or for teaching methods and situations. a major motivation for this book is to demystify somewhat the practice of language testing, to help practising language educators and students of language teaching and applied linguistics understand the nature of language testing as the measurement of language ability. the book is intended as a first introduction to language testing, providing a grounding in what it means to try to measure a characteristic as intangible as knowledge of a language. My goal is to empower educators and students with the understanding that their own experience in teaching and in language learning is an important element both in interpreting test results and in developing their own tests.

It is my hope that after readers have worked their way through this introductory text, they will have the interest, and the courage, to continue their study of language testing by reading other language testing publications that will take them deeper into the field. Each chapter includes, in addition to references to many such publications, suggestions for further reading in specific aspects of the measurement of language ability. There are also exercises at the end of each chapter that will provide some experience not only in the understanding of language testing but in the doing of it. Language testing is an important part of language teaching and learning because the results of language tests can have profound effects on the lives of our students, on our own teaching, on the programmes we work in, and ultimately on the societies we live in. We have an ethical responsibility not only to understand the nature of language testing but to actively promote the responsible use of tests and the appropriate interpretation of test performance.

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