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When the test developer does not speak the target language: the use of language informants in the test development process

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2016
<mark>Journal</mark>Language Assessment Quarterly
Issue number4
Number of pages16
Pages (from-to)393-408
Early online date31/10/16
<mark>Original language</mark>English


It is not unusual for tests in less-commonly taught languages (LCTLs) to be developed by an experienced item writer with no proficiency in the language being tested, in collaboration with a language informant who is a speaker of the target language but lacks language assessment expertise. How this approach to item writing works in practice, and what factors play a role in it, is largely unrecorded, as are item writing processes and practices in language assessment in general.
Through a case study approach, this study sought to gain insights into test development practices in cases when essential item writer traits are spread across different people. Seven in-depth interviews with language assessment specialists and language informants involved in LCTL reading test development revealed a number of specific characteristics, and also challenges, to test developer recruitment and test development in this context. Findings indicate that this inherently collaborative approach brings with it a sophisticated system of “checks and balances” which may benefit item writing in some respects.

Bibliographic note

This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Taylor //////