The Language Testing Research Group is very honoured to be hosting Professor Tim McNamara from The University of Melbourne on Tuesday 12th December. Professor McNamara will be giving a talk on "Values, politics, and language assessment: the challenge of English as a Lingua Franca" - please see below for the abstract. Please join us from 4-5pm on the 12th in Bowland North SR10.

Values, politics, and language assessment: the challenge of English as a Lingua Franca

An area that language testers continue to shy away from is the notion that test constructs embody social values and ideologies, and are sites of contestation over such values.  A compelling example of this is the slowness of the field to engage with the reality of English as a Lingua Franca communication, with its radical implications for language assessment.  Given that much of the world’s business, its education (including national and international conferences) and its political interaction is conducted in English as a Lingua Franca, it is remarkable that few if any language tests exist which are specifically directed at measuring competence in English as a Lingua Franca communication.  The reasons for this are complex, but are clearly associated with the fact that, as Messick pointed out, values are at the heart of the constructs in educational assessment.  What values underlie the resistance of our field to the testing of English as a Lingua Franca? This paper tries to set out the implications of an embrace of the construct of English as a Lingua Franca for the design of English language assessments, and the likely types of resistance that would result.  The issue reveals the fundamentally value-driven and political character of language testing and assessment.

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