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What Is Language Assessment?

Karize Uy
Karize Uy

Language assessment is a program under the field of applied linguistics that essentially focuses on evaluating a person’s fluency in a language. Many schools and universities use this method to test students who are taking language courses. The government can also apply this system to determine which language a community can understand best, so that the government can communicate to them better. In a language assessment, oftentimes the person’s understanding and appreciation of the culture connected to the specific language are also examined.

The foundation of a language assessment involves its language content standards and language policies. These two determine what a student should learn from a language course and the expectations and goals he should meet by the end of the course. By establishing both of these, the assessment can appropriately test a person’s knowledge of the language. In some way, a language assessment can also test how well a language course is being taught. If the majority of students did not fare well, then teaching methods can be looked into.

Woman standing behind a stack of books
Woman standing behind a stack of books

Another important factor in a language assessment is the language performance standard. This determines the language skills a student should develop in order to pass the assessment. This can include skills such as reading, writing, speaking, and listening. These skills can be evaluated by, for example, counting the number of pauses within talk time, the use of different syntax and patterns for sentences, and even the knowledge of proper etiquette during situational conversations.

One example of a language assessment is the International English Language Testing System (IELTS). This test is standardized and is used everywhere in the world. IELTS does not really have a “pass” or “fail” mark; it merely evaluates a person’s proficiency in the English language. Another popular assessment is the Test of English as Foreign Language (TOEFL). This test is used for foreign students who want to study in universities in the US and Canada. This test verifies whether or not a foreign student can understand and speak English to make sure that he maximizes his learning experiences.

Aside from academic reasons, many countries also use a language assessment for potential employees from overseas. This ensures that the applicant can understand instructions, carry out tasks, and communicate with his employer and fellow employees using the language that is commonly used in that country. Indirectly, a language assessment implies that language proficiency — both in English and in other foreign languages — is becoming a valuable currency for a person to possess, not only in an academic environment, but also in a business setting.

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