Title: Diagnosing Foreign Language Proficiency
Subtitle: The Interface between Learning and Assessment
Publisher: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd
Author: J. Charles Alderson, Lancaster University
Paperback: ISBN: 0826493882 Pages: 296 Price: U.K. £ 25.00
This book addresses the need for tests that can diagnose the strengths and weaknesses in learners' developing foreign language proficiency. It presents the rationale for, and research surrounding, the development of DIALANG, a suite of internet-delivered diagnostic foreign language tests funded by the European Commission. The word 'diagnosis' is common in discussions in language education and applied linguistics, but very few truly diagnostic tests exist. However, the diagnosis of foreign language proficiency is central to helping learners make progress.
This volume explores the nature of diagnostic testing, emphasizing the need for a better understanding of the nature of appropriate diagnosis. The book starts with a debate about how diagnostic testing might most appropriately be developed. Charles Alderson argues that the field has neglected to construct diagnostic tests, partly because other forms of testing have dominated the field. Alderson examines how proficiency has been diagnosed in the key areas of language: reading, listening, writing, grammar and vocabulary. The value of self-assessment is discussed and exemplified as a key component in developing learners', and teachers', awareness of the complexity of language learning. The book ends with a consideration of and recommendations for future developments in the diagnosis of foreign language proficiency.