Language Assessment: Procedures & Instruments

Instructor: Jesse Richter

Jesse holds two masters, a doctorate and has 15 years of academic experience in areas of education, linguistics, business and science across five continents.

Looking for some best practice language assessment ideas? In this lesson, we will discuss language assessment procedures and instruments, including selection, administration and interpretation of assessment data.


Language Assessment

Assessment is a critical aspect of language instruction and acquisition. The two primary assessment categories are formative (informal; conducted during the learning process) and summative (formal; conducted at the end of an instructional period). Under the umbrella of these two broad categories, many forms of assessment are recognized among professionals to be valid and accurate. For purposes of this lesson, we will consider a traditional classroom setting within a traditional public school system. Let's take a look at formative methods and then move to summative methods.

Formative Assessment

Procedures & Instruments

Since formative assessment is generally informal and conducted during the learning process, both procedures and instruments are flexible and are typically determined by the instructor (rather than school administration). This type of assessment may take the form of observations, interviews, student work portfolios, rewording concepts, informal presentations, and/or alternative format demonstrations of comprehension such as drawing a picture, creating a chart or making a model.

It is recommended that the teacher first take the time to carefully understand each individual learner's background and learning style including country of origin, mother tongue, home context (when appropriate) and learning needs. This allows the teacher to individualize instruction. The teacher should also determine how the entire class cooperates and interacts as a group. For example, a class may have a majority of native speakers of the local language with only a few second language students; the converse is also common. This will determine how the teacher pairs, groups and otherwise manages student interactions, as well as what strategies will be most beneficial.

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