Understanding Language Testing

Cynthia Wiseman

Abstract


Understanding Language Testing is a valuable contribution to language teacher education; it addresses the essential facets of language testing needed by language test users, including practitioners, program administrators, and future language test developers, to effectively evaluate and assess the language ability of language learners. The book covers the key considerations in the development and use of language tests today in a succinct yet comprehensive manner. It begins with a quick introduction of what language testing entails, and a discussion of what counts as language ability, the object of measurement in language testing. Douglas also examines the contextual elements of language use necessary to create authentic contextualized tasks that provide for valid and reliable inferences about a test taker’s language ability. After that, he outlines the steps in test development, starting with a needs analysis through which the purpose of the assessment is defined, the targeted population is identified, and the target language use task and language characteristics are clearly described. Douglas then focuses on the development of test tasks. In Chapter 4, he considers alternatives in assessment, including conference and portfolio assessments, self- and peer-assessment, task-based and performance assessments, and finally, dynamic assessment. Chapter 5 presents a mini-course in statistics. The book ends with Chapter 6, in which issues in technology and language testing, technology and task types, and automated scoring, are examined.

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