The International Language Testing Association held its annual conference – Language Testing Research Colloquium – in Toronto this year from March 18-20. The theme, ‘From language testing to language assessment’ reflects the attention that classroom-based and learner-oriented assessment has been getting in the field recently. The presentations also reflected the less statistical/technical/scientific aspect of this year’s topic and offered more pratical research-based approaches into the importance of feedback, of learner’s engagement in real world tasks in the classroom, of self and peer assessment. Many presentations talked about various projects involving programs in assessment literacy for instructors.
I have alsways enjoyed the LTRC very much as it really is the language testing conference. Other times I’ve attended, I felt that the presentations purposely had a strong scientific flavor – almost trying to assert language testing as a field of its own, distinct from teaching. Detailed psychometric reports have characterized papers in past editions whereas this year, mostly due to the theme of classroom -based edition where validation procedures need not be carried out with the specificity and rigor of large scale standardized test – papers were closer to the reality of learners and instructors and reported on how to maximize the dynamics in the classroom to optimize learning, using tests to further enhance this experience. So, tests used not so much for accountability, but as a further experience to learn.
Toronto is a vibrant city and the conference venue was an excellent stage from which to observe the city.