Luke Harding

uke Harding is Senior Lecturer in the Department of Linguistics and English Language at Lancaster University. His research interests are mainly in language assessment. He has published in the areas of listening assessment, pronunciation assessment, language assessment literacy, diagnostic language assessment, and the challenge of English as a Lingua Franca for language assessment. Luke’s work has appeared in Language Testing, Language Assessment Quarterly, Applied Linguistics and Language Teaching. He is the author of a book: Accent and Listening Assessment (2011), and is currently the co-editor of the journal Language Testing.

Abstract: Language assessment literacy: Past, present, future

Language assessment literacy (LAL) has experienced a surge of interest in the field of language testing over the past five years, with several conferences and a special issue of Language Testing devoted to the theme. A number of local and international projects have also been conducted to explore language assessment literacy among teachers, in particular, as well as other stakeholder groups such as policy makers, admissions officers and examiners. Despite this interest, however, there remain conceptual and practical challenges in defining LAL needs across different roles/professions and different contexts, and also in moving beyond understanding needs to fostering more tangible enhancement of LAL.

In this talk, I will discuss the trajectory of language assessment literacy by tracing developments in the recent past, describing a current LAL survey project, and discussing recommended priorities for the future. The talk will begin with some recent examples of LAL-related problems identified in news media reports as a way of framing key issues. Then, a brief survey of different theoretical models of LAL (e.g., Brindley, 2001; Inbar-Lourie, 2008; Fulcher, 2012; Taylor, 2013) will be presented with a view to identifying overlapping themes and unresolved issues. The talk will then turn to focus on a current project – the Language Assessment Literacy Survey (Kremmel & Harding, forthcoming) – a large-scale survey which provides empirical evidence of both the dimensions of LAL, and the needs, lacks and wants of specific stakeholder groups (N > 1000) across 71 countries. The development of the survey will be described, and key findings will be presented comparing the LAL needs of different stakeholder groups, and of teachers, specifically, across different educational contexts. Finally, the talk will conclude with a discussion of the future direction of LAL, with a focus on the place of language in LAL, and the need to move from language assessment literacy to language assessment communication.