Winter 2016

Special Supplement: Testing the waters – Issues in English language assessment

This year-end edition of ETAS Journal Winter 2016 has been anticipated with such high hopes. Featuring the introduction of our new layout design – thanks to Ron! – and an excellent Special Supplement on Testing the waters: Issues in English language assessment, it comes our way gift-wrapped in Ingrid Christen van-Luling’s festive watercolour depiction of Christmas and the magic of winter in Zürich.

Editor’s Notes: This Special Supplement includes outstanding articles that provide insights into one of the most pertinent issues affecting English language teaching and learning – testing, evaluation, and assessment. For us teachers, nothing is more critical to the learning process than seeing our students demonstrate the ability to understand a subject matter. This concern highlights the integral role of assessment in instruction, in particular in determining whether or not the goals of education are being met. This theme is only one of the many resonating across this compelling collection of articles and triggering questions such as whether teachers are teaching what they think they are teaching, whether students are learning what they are supposed to be learning, and whether there is a way to teach the subject better, thereby promoting better learning. Despite the wide range of approaches, perspectives, and topics addressing the role of testing and assessment in language learning, the tacit agreement is that teachers need to be aware of the changing needs of language learners and to take an active role in making decisions about the purpose of assessment and the content that is being assessed.

Reading the submissions for this Special Supplement has been both surprising and delightful, like finding an unlikely gem among the fields of data – they inspire the mind and also stir the heart. For this we have our contributing authors to thank. It is their fine work on which the success of this exemplary edition depends. We applaud their individual efforts and thank each of them for considering ETAS Journal as the right place for sharing their insights through their perceptive and ground-breaking articles. And yet, because no Special Supplement ever comes to life without its editors, Neil Bullock and David Kaufher deserve our appreciation and gratitude. By transforming these intellectual gems we have the privilege to work on into a larger treasure, they have contributed to our growing understanding of some of the most relevant issues in assessment and their impact on language learning.

Table of Contents


Versatile New Year / Elsbeth Mäder

Give your learners a business perspective / Oksana Hera

SPECIAL SUPPLEMENT: Testing the waters – Issues in English language assessment

Foreword / Neil Bullock and David Kaufher

Insights: Exploring language assessment literacy with Professor Anthony Green / Neil Bullock

 Main Articles

Learning versus studying: A false dichotomy / Daniel Xerri

Language assessment literacy (LAL): The case for exchange between teacher-testers and researchers[CB1]  / Lynn Williams

Relevance of EFL standardized tests to modern EFL classrooms and to teaching and learning environments / Guoxing Yu

How external tests can support teaching and learning in the foreign language classroom / Claudia Harsch

Developing rating scales for a computer-based (CBT) speaking test of English as a Lingua Franca / Yumi Hato, Katsunori Kanzawa, Yasushi

Tsubota, Haruhiko Mitsunaga, and Nic Underhill

Inspired/Inspiring Practices

Testing from a language learner’s perspective / Emilia Siravo

A critique of the traditional listening comprehension approach and suggestions for improvement / Sheila Thorn

Formative assessment for examination preparation using reflective tools from the European Language Portfolio / Sylvia Götze Wake

Malpractice in language testing – Why and how should we care? / Anna Soltyska

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