What is testing?
A test is an activity whose main purpose is to convey (usually to the
tester) how well the testee knows or can do something”
• Language Testing is the practice and study of evaluating the
proficiency of an individual in using a particular language
The activity of developing and using language tests. As a psychometric
activity, language testing traditionally was more concerned with the
production, development and analysis of tests.
• Recent critical and ethical approaches to language testing have placed
more emphasis on the uses of language tests.
• The purpose of a language test is to determine a person’s knowledge
and/or ability in the language and to discriminate that person’s ability
from that of others.
Teaching Vs Testing
• Both testing and teaching are so closely interrelated (or the
relationship between them is as a partner)
• The test is geared to the teaching that has taken place, whereas in
the latter case the teaching is often geared to the test
Functions of testing
• As devices to reinforce learning and to motivate the student
• As a mean of assessing the student’s performance in the language
• As information tool for teacher to know about where the students are
at the moment, to help decide what to teach next
• As information for students to find about what they know, so that
they also have an awareness of what they need to learn or review
• Diagnose students’ strengths and weaknesses; to identify what they
know and what they don’t know
• Get students to make an effort (in doing the test itself), which is likely
to lead to better results and a feeling of satisfaction
• Provide students with a sense of achievement and progress in their
Effect of testing
• The effect of testing on teaching and learning is known as backwash.
• There are two different backwashes in the test:
• The test will cause harmful backwash if the test content and testing
techniques are at variance with the objective of the course.
• It will have beneficial backwash If the result of the test give an immediate
effect on teaching (the syllabus was redesigned, new books were chosen,
classes were conducted differently)
Testing and Assessment
Two types of assessment:
• Formative it’s assessment with the purpose to check on students’
progress or to see how far they have mastered what should they
• Summative it’s used at the end of the term, semester or year in order
to measure what has been achieved by groups and individuals
Types of tests
Five types of testing:
• Proficiency test
• Achievement test
• Diagnostic test
• Placement test
• Direct & indirect test
• Proficiency tests are designed to measure people’s ability in language,
regardless of any training they may have in that language.
• The content of a proficiency test is not based on the content of the
objectives of language courses. It’s based on a specification of what
candidates have to be able to do in the language in order to be
• The content of the course in achievement tests are directly related to
• The purpose is being able to establish how successful individual
students, group of students and the course in achieving the
• There are two kinds of achievement tests:
• Final achievement test
• Progress achievement test
Final achievement test:
• It’s administered at the end of a course of study
• The content of the test must be related to the courses
• In the view of some testers, the content of a final achievement test
should be based directly on a detailed course syllabus or the books
and other materials used.
• If the syllabus, the books and other materials are badly designed, the
result of a test can be very misleading.
• Successful performance on the test may not truly indicate successful
achievement of course objectives.
• A course may have an objective to develop conversational abilities,
but the course and the test require students only to utter statements
about certain topics.
• A course may aim to develop a reading ability in German, but the test
limits to the vocabulary the students have to meet.
• It’s used to identify learners’ strengths and weaknesses.
• It’s intended primarily to ascertain what learning still needs to take
• It’s intended to provide information that will help to place students at
the stage of the teaching program most appropriate to their abilities.
• Typically it’s used to assign students to classes at different levels.
Direct & Indirect Testing
• It’s said to be direct when it requires the candidate to perform
precisely the skill that we wish to measure.
• Direct testing is easier to carry out when it is intended to measure the
productive skills of speaking and writing.
• It attempts to measure the abilities underlie the skills in which we are
• E.g. One section of TOEFL in writing section, it’s developed as an
indirect measure of writing ability. “at first the old woman seemed
unwilling to accept anything that was offered her by my friend and I”
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