ELT Journal are holding their annual debate at IATEFL in Manchester on Monday 13 April 2015. This year’s motion is Language testing does more harm than good. In the latest issue of ELT J (unfortunately behind a paywall!), the rationale of the debate is described as follows:
A remarkable amount of time is devoted to testing and assessment in ELT— by teachers and learners, by schools and institutions, and, of course, by test designers and administrators themselves. Whilst tests are disliked by many teachers and learners, others argue that testing is a ‘necessary evil’, or even that ‘teachers need testers’. Thus, who gains and who loses from testing and assessment in ELT? Indeed, does language testing do more harm than good?
The motion is proposed by Richard Smith (University of Warwick). Richard Smith has published extensively about the history of language learning and teaching, and is the editor of Language and History. He is also well known for research in learner and teacher autonomy. Dr Smith has a strong professional interest in promoting teacher research (he’s the current co-ordinator of the IATEFL Research SIG). In addition, he has worked on the bottom-up development of innovative teaching in ‘low-resource’ classrooms.
Opposing the statement is Lynda Taylor (University of Bedfordshire), who has an impressive background in examining, item-writing and item-writer training for the various examination boards. Among other assignments, Dr Taylor was involved in the design of the CAE examination and IELTS. Dr Taylor regularly presents on language testing and assessment issues at workshops and conferences, and has published widely in academic journals and volumes in the field.
This promises to be a very interesting debate, and I am very much looking forward to attending. If you happen to be around, do say hi!