Bachman, L.F. (1990). Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing. Oxford, NY: Oxford University Lyle F.
Bachman has been fond of medieval literary studies ever since, but his greater love for language acquisition has paved his way towards the field of language testing. Bachman, a renowned expert in the field of language testing, has come up with an idea to produce a book which will essentially help amateurs and professionals alike in their researches on the nature, principles, and methods of language testing. Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing was written to provide teachers, linguists, and language test researchers with a book which looks on internal (uses, and characteristics, such as validity and reliability, of language tests) and external (prevalence of communicative language teaching and of different testing methods) factors which affects the nature and rationale of language testing. To further help those interested in the field of language testing, two (2) objectives have been formulated by Bachman in creating this book. First, the book aims to provide a conceptual foundation for answering practical questions regarding the development and use of language tests. Another aim of the book is to explore some of the problems raised by what is perhaps a unique characteristic of language tests and a dilemma for language testers – that language is both instrument and the object of measurement – and to begin developing a conceptual framework to at least deal with a better understanding of the factors that affect performance on language tests. Throughout the eight (8) chapters of the book, Bachman provided an intensive study of 8 relevant matters in language testing, from uses of language tests up to the persistent problems faced by language test makers and takers. It also gives a general idea of the future directions to be traversed by language tests. Each topic for each chapter was meticulously chosen by the author and was scrupulously discussed to provide the readers with sufficient knowledge before they undertake into the field of language testing research, and of course, language test production. One notable component of this book is the last chapter which talks about the problems and challenges faced by language testing, and the latest trends it has to cope with. The discussion of authentic language tests, or language tests which will capture the use of the communicative method of teaching in testing has been a great addition to introduce the use of real-life scenarios in the field of testing. Through this chapter, the reader was given a glimpse of what to expect when they enter the field, the issues of being eclectic with methods to be used in language testing and the problems posed by using real-life language use in assessing one’s competence and proficiency.
Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Cambridge University Arthur Hughes, through the second edition of Testing for Language Teachers, has provided teachers with an easy-to-use handbook on creating an effective language test. Generally, the book has done four (4) things: 1) analyses what makes a good test, 2) considers the different purposes of test, 3) discusses how testing can encourage good teaching and learning, and 4) describes common test techniques and administration. An evidence of this is the sixteen (16) chapters prepared by the author. The book discusses both general concerns on testing (testing as problem solving, relevance of testing to teaching, etc.) and more specific matters on language assessment (testing the four macro-skills of language, test administration, etc.). The book is designed to give its readers first with an overview of what, why, and how language testing works, afterwards, bring its readers to the actual production and administration of language test. The author makes sure that all pertinent information on language testing be discussed in the book. He talks about different approaches used in creating a test without giving hints that he prefers one method more than the other. In each chapter, a balanced discussion of the boons and banes of each approach takes place, thus, letting the readers decide on his/her own. Modifications have been put in this book’s edition as to cope with the latest developments and trends in language testing. From its first publication (1989), topics such as assessing the language abilities of young learners has been added to cater existing and prevailing matters which are relevant for the field of language testing. Also, it is very observable the use of language which is appropriate for newcomers in the field of language testing. The readers will never be overwhelm with new terms since the author has provided an easy way of explaining it – through the use of up-to-date examples. Examples for each testing techniques have been increased and improved for readers to understand better the concepts and techniques being discussed. For further reading, the author provides bibliographies containing relevant books and significant articles in the field of language testing. One thing which differs this book from the others is the inclusion of a chapter which tackles the actual administration of a test in its pages. Hughes presents a 3-page article which discusses the 29 specific guidelines and tips for preparing and administering a language examination – a concise, yet comprehensive discussion on how to conduct a language test – which is intended for every language teacher.
Fulcher, G. (2010). Practical Language Testing. London: Hodder Education It is easy to create a language test, however, what’s difficult is to make an effective and a practical one. Glenn Fulcher, an expert on language testing research, provides the field of language testing with a book which highlights the creation of a “practical,” or an appropriate context-based language test to fully assess the language ability of each learner. Practical Language Testing is divided into three (3) general topics – the first three chapters survey the language testing landscape in which one can have as a basis in creating a test, the fourth chapter presents the material that one can use in constructing a language test, and the remaining chapters takes the reader through the process of building and implementing a language test. Throughout the whole book, the author assures that readers will be grasping the different knowledge needed to create an effective language test and the skills that one can enhance to develop a practical language test. The book highlights the notion that it is through knowing the underlying principles and the continuous history of the field language testing that one can create a good language test. The author does not deny the fact that language tests are social activities which greatly affect, either enrich or destroy, an individual’s ambitions, hopes, and generally, his life. With all of these in mind, a book which talks about the different aspects of language tests has been produced. In this book, the author makes sure that a balanced discussion of standardized tests and classroom language assessments is provided to its readers. However, through the author’s discretion and judgments, the book does not involve all concepts related to language testing. The author has written on things that applied linguists and language teachers ought to know about testing. Fulcher has indicated in the book’s preface that it is impossible for an author, though it is tempting, to contain a little of everything about language testing in a single book. This book, though considered to be an introductory text, only discusses what it deems as relevant for the amateur members of the field of language testing. One interesting feature of the book are the examples of real assessment items and examination materials provided by the author. The author does not restrain the book with just good examples of a language test. The book also offers its readers with examples which one must critique and improve. Also, individual and group activities were provided at the end of each chapter, giving the readers a faculty wherein his/her skills on creating and implementing a language test be honed.
Cheng, L. & Watanabe, Y. (2004). Washback in Language Testing: Research, contexts, and methods. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates. Language test is an important instrument to assess both student’s learning and teacher’s effectivity in teaching. This characteristic of a language test is called “washback.” A term commonly used in applied linguistics, “washback” refers to the influence of testing on language learning and teaching. Liying Cheng (assistant professor at the Faculty of Education, Queen’s University) and Yoshinori Watanabe (associate professor of the Faculty of Education and Human Studies at Akita University) have come up with a book which highlights current researches on washback and the educational setting. Washback in Language Testing collates eleven (11) articles about washback from thirteen (13) professional researchers and professors. Each article, having been written by various experts from the field of language testing, discusses washback in relation to different educational contexts and settings. From its effect on standardized examinations and classroombased assessments up to the teacher factors mediating washback itself, all of these are thoroughly tackled to introduce to linguists and to language teachers the concept of washback. The book is divided into two (2) parts: 1) the concepts and methodology of washback, and 2) the studies on washback from different parts of the world. The former discusses the what’s and how’s with regard washback, from the underlying principles and beliefs behind the concept of washback up to the methodologies concerned in conducting a research study on the effectivity of the aforementioned concept. The latter, on the other hand, looks at the effects of washback on various educational settings (adult migrant english program, classroom-based assessments, standardized tests, etc.) from different parts of the world (USA, New Zealand, Japan, etc.). The general purpose of the book is to to update teachers, researchers, policymakers/administrators, and others on what is involved in this complex issue of testing and its effects, and how such a phenomenon benefits teaching and learning. The book also aims to provide researchers with models of research studies on which future studies can be based. This book is written intentionally for language teachers who are interested in the application of findings to actual teaching and learning situations, testing researchers who wish to keep abreast of new issues in this area, and future experts who wish to conduct washback research in their own contexts, policy and decision makers in educational and testing organizations, and comparative education audiences.
Alderson, J.C., Clapham, C., & Wall, D. (1995). Language Test Construction and Evaluation. New York, NY: Cambridge University. J. Charles Alderson, Caroline Clapham, and Dianne Wall, through their extensive researches and a great help from their collaboration among members of the Lancaster Language Testing Research Group come up with a book, which will aid anyone interested in the field of language testing, titled Language Test Construction and Evaluation. However, it is specifically written for teachers of language, may it be any foreign language or one’s native tongue, though it extracts examples from Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL). This book describes the process of test construction, from drafting the initial test specifications up to the reporting of test scores and the devising of new tests in the light of developments and feedbacks. What it highlights are the best practices that one can utilize in creating, administering, and evaluating a language test. The book is divided into eleven (11) chapters which individually deal with each process of test construction. Each chapter begins with the presentation of guideline questions which will help the readers while going through the pages of each component. These guideline questions were well-thought of by the authors for readers to grasp the complete sense of each chapter. The book is written in a way in which prior knowledge or schema in testing is not essential in understanding the concepts being presented. The authors assume that everyone and anyone, from amateurs in the field of language testing up to the experts of the said field, making the book as user-friendly as possible. However, the book only presents the general description of how to create, implement, and evaluate a language test, not a definite explanation of assessments specifically used in testing the different language skills of an individual. The authors argued that the essence of the book is not to focus on the assessment of specific language skills, but to highlight the principles and rationales behind test construction and evaluation. It is a comprehensive study of how general language testing works, not how each assessment used for measuring the oral abilities and listening comprehension skills operate. This is not a “how-to-construct” book that has its emphasis on the actual techniques relevant in the construction of test items; this is a book which discusses the different principles and procedures behind language testing. One notable component of the book is Chapter 5, “The training of examiners and administrators.” This chapter discusses elaborately the skills needed to be an effective examiner and an efficient test administrator. This just shows that this book offers an in-depth discussion of matters relevant to the grounds of language testing, thus tapping even the people involved in the actual administration of examination.
Fulcher, G. & Davidson, F. (2007). Language Testing and Assessment: An advanced resource book. New York, NY: Routledge. “The practice of language testing draws upon, and also contributes to, all disciplines within applied linguistics. However, there is something fundamentally different about language testing. Language testing is all about building better tests, researching how to build better tests and, in so doing, understanding better the things that we test.” This is the main component of Glenn Fulcher and Fred Davidson’s book titled Language Testing and Assessment: An advanced resource book. This book emphasizes the concepts of doing and creating and its practical aspects in the context of language testing. The book is divided into three (3) sections: Introduction (A), Exploration (B), and Extension (C). Each section is further subdivided into ten (10) units. The Introduction walks the readers through the different topics presented in the entire book which are thoroughly discussed by defining a linguistic and research-based explanation behind each complex concept with relevance to language testing. The Exploration part lets the readers analyze deeper what language testing really is and how it branches out into its significant components by providing data from studies and researches meticulously picked by the authors. This section also describes research projects that an individual can carry out all by himself for his own analysis. Lastly, the Extension section provides ten (10) key readings which accommodate the obtained knowledge in Section A. The book is organized in such a way that one can either concentrate on particular themes, such as classroom assessment or writing items and tasks (by reading the significant discussions in Sections A, B, and C consecutively), or read the whole of Introduction before proceeding to Sections B and C. The book is extensively cross-referenced and carefully indexed so that one can easily find his/her way around the material. One may decide to read the book in any sequence and will still get the point being presented by each part. What makes this book student-friendly are the activities provided at the end of each chapter. Through these activities, the students can measure his/her knowledge on the topic s/he just tackled. These activities are not just presented to measure the information gained by the reader, but also to hone the skills needed by someone who wants to embark in the field of language testing, though s/he may be a language teacher, or a full-pledged applied linguists. Examples of these activities are tasks which makes the readers analyze how valid or how reliable the language test given by a particular teacher to his English class.
Weir, C.J. (2005). Language Testing and Validation: An evidence-based approach. New York, NY: Palgrave Macmillan. Knowing the traits (the what’s) and the methods (the how’s) of language testing is not enough for one to assume that s/he has created an effective and efficient language test. The proper construction of a test is just one way of determining the validity of an examination. It is through the actual scores of the testees that the tester can really assess the validity of a language test. Cyril J. Weir, through his book Language Testing and Validation: An evidence-based research, provided us with a comprehensive look on what validity is, what really entails a language test to be considered valid, and what are the things that one can utilize to create a valid language test. This book focuses mainly on how the results of the test takers’ performances affect the validity of a language test, and what measures one can do maintain the validity (both the face and construct validity) of the language test. Through the exploration of the different methods in creating a language test, the book provides a set of guidelines to assure that the test being constructed by the teacher is valid, and at the same time, reliable. As the title suggests, the approach used in presenting the data is evidence-based, meaning that all data gathered for the book are from sound and appropriate researches from notable experts in both the field of language testing and of applied linguistics. For a newbie in the field, it will be very difficult for him/her to understand some points given by the author since jargons are often used to present new concepts. The assumption is that the readers of this book have prior knowledge on the basic concepts (such as the types of assessment, validity, reliability, etc.) of language testing. The book is divided into four (4) parts. Part 1 discusses the different validation types one must know to assess whether the results extracted by the teachers from the performances of the test takers really measure what ability or abilities it has to test. In Part 2, the concept of validity is further unveiled through examples and procedures taken from different language tests all over the world. Part 3 elaborates on research activities one might employ to make sure the validity of a language test you have created or gotten from a reliable source. A list of reading materials (books, journals, online articles, etc.) is presented in Part 4 to further reinforce the knowledge of the reader on language testing, in general, and validity, in particular.
Paran, A. & Sercu, L. (Eds.) (2010). Testing the Untestable in Language Education. Bristol, UK: Multilingual Matters. It is very common for language learners to anticipate a test on the different macro-skills and one’s grammatical competence when talking about language testing. However, as a language teacher, is it important to leave the realm of common practices and to start embarking on a quest in finding what really must be assessed to indicate one’s proficiency in a given language? This is what the book Testing the Untestable in Language Education, edited by Amos Paran and Lies Sercu, attempts to deal with – the linguistic matters that language teachers often forget to include in a typical language test. The book is divided into four (4) parts: chapters 2 to 4 tackle the concept of intercultural competence with regard language testing, chapters 5 to 7 highlight autonomy, an ability that must be measured by language teachers and testers, chapters 8 to 10 relates the use and significance of literature in assessing one’s language awareness, and chapters 11 to 13 talk about the linguistic components and content that must be included in language tests and assessments. Each chapter is written by experts, linguists, and educators all around the globe, thus, highlighting the use of language tests and assessments in the global arena. As the title indicates, this book highlights the different things or concepts that language teachers tend to avoid and neglect when assessing language learners’ competence and performance. The first section opens a discussion on what intercultural competence is and its development and evolution, and looks at issue of reliability and validity in this context. This section focuses on how teachers construct intercultural competence among students to accommodate the variety of cultures present inside the classroom. The second section accentuates the assessment of learners’ autonomy as an integral part of language assessment. Research findings and empirical evidences are presented to impart with the readers how learners and teachers alike look on autonomy and control as part of language education. The third section, which deals with literature, discusses three (3) aspects of literature as relevant to language testing – the construction of item types that can be used to test literature in language classrooms, the emergence of creativity and creative writing in language classes, and the significance of literature in heightening one’s language awareness. The last section of the book is devoted to what must be assessed when one is talking about language. This part offers the readers with a review of issues on second language assessment and an overview of the process of decision-making among language teachers of what to include in a language assessment.
Purpura, J. (2004). Assessing Grammar. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge. Having extensive experience not only in teaching and assessing grammar, but in training language teachers in grammar and assessment, Jim Purpura has provided a great addition to the Cambridge Language Assessment Series. It is by his dedication and passion that he shares to linguists and language teachers his immense knowledge on the assessment of grammar, the structural glue and the “code” of language which is said to be at the heart of language use, through the book Assessing Grammar. Assessing Grammar provides a timely discussion of fresh perspectives of how language teachers can assess grammar, an important component of language. Highlighting the current developments of grammar assessment and gradually leaving the realms of the traditional views on grammar, this book takes a completely new look at the assessment of grammar, placing it in the context of current views of linguistic pragmatics and functional grammar. It thus brings the assessment of grammar into sync with current thinking and practice in applied linguistics and language pedagogy. The book has been written by the author keeping in mind that grammar must not be isolated with the different macro-skills of language when measuring one’s proficiency with it. Grammar must be assessed in the larger context of language in communication, thus, keeping intact with the emergence of communicative language teaching in the language pedagogy. The audience intended to read this book varies from language experts up to classroom teachers. Articles are presented in the book to cater the needs of each professional involved in the assessment of grammar, may it be in the pedagogical setting, on the context of standardized testing, or simply the realm of assessment research. Latest trends and developments on grammar assessment have been scrupulously explored to impart with the readers the implications it posed on both teaching and testing. It brings grammar assessment into line with current theory and practice in language teaching and other areas of applied linguistics. This book provides a principled approach to the design, development and use of grammar assessments, dealing with the integration of theory and research in applied linguistics into language assessment in a way that is useful for both the test developer and the classroom teacher. In the last chapter of the book, the author provides a retrospective overview of how grammar assessment has evolved over the past fifty years and a discussion of some persistent challenges faced by the assessment of grammar, an emphasis on the use of authentic materials, methods, and tasks to measure the grammatical aptitude of a learner of a language.
McNamara, T.F. (1996). Measuring Second Language Performance. New York, NY: Addison Wesley Longman. At the eve of communicative language teaching and task-based testing, Tim McNamara adds up to the long list of authors who highlights the use of performance-based assessments to measure the competence of language learners through his book Measuring Second Language Performance. This book has two (2) principal aims – first is to undertake a critical examination of the thinking behind the practice of performance assessment, and second, is to introduce the reader to the most useful of the new measurement theories available during the time it was published (and until now), the Rasch measurement. The nine (9) chapters of this book support these aims. Chapters 2 and 3 take on the first aim provided by the book. Chapter 2 introduces and discusses the two main approaches to second language performance assessment – the work sample approach and a more cognitive and distinctively linguistic approach. Chapter 3 tackles how key writers and prominent figures behind performance-based assessment and communicative language testing have conceptualized what is involved in the display of language ability under performance conditions. Prominent figures included in the discussion are Dell Hymes, Michael Canale, Merrill Swain, Lyle Bachman, and Adrian Palmer. Discussion will vary from communicative competence in the second language up to the issues central to the language performance assessment. To discuss the second aim of the book, the remaining chapters deal with the specifics of the aforementioned measurement instrument. Chapters 5 and 6 engage in the discussion of the basic theory and procedures of the new measurement. Chapter 7 talks about the ways on how performance be graded by the rater, and, afterwards, be reported to the testees. Chapters 8 and 9 are considered to be the most difficult part of the book due to their technicalities. Chapter 8 presents the way in which research using the new measurement can reveal the complex nature of language assessment, while Chapter 9 argues the beliefs posed by criticisms on Rasch measurement, defending that their arguments are grounded on their misunderstandings of the concepts and models involved in the aforementioned method. The chapters 2 and 3 are considered to be self-contained. They can be read independently without prior knowledge on the matters being discussed. However, when it comes to the remaining chapters, it is advisable to have a basic understanding of what Rasch measurement is for smooth flow of learning to occur. Chapters 4 to 9 must be read sequentially as to utilize the learning experience of the readers on the aforementioned measurement device. Summaries are provided at the end of each chapter to synthesize what has been discussed.