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Professor Charles Alderson


Charles Alderson

Lancaster University

County South




After two years (2010-2012) as Principal Investigator of an ESRC (Economic and Social Research) research project into “Diagnosing Reading Proficiency in a Second or Foreign Language”, I retired in September 2012 and became an Emeritus Professor within the Department. I was fortunate enough to be awarded a Leverhulme Emeritus Fellowship which is enabling me to continue my research, research-related travel and publications until December 2014.

Courses I have taught in the past include:

Undergraduate courses:

  • Language Teaching Methodology (LING271)
  • Interpreting Language in Use (LING261)
  • Introduction to General Linguistics (LING151)
  • Language Acquisition (LING235)

Masters level:

  • Background to Applied Linguistics for Language Teaching
  • Evaluating Language Education
  • Issues in Language Testing
  • Language Test Construction and Evaluation
  • Language Testing Techniques
  • Language Test Research and Development
  • Professional Issues in Language Teaching
  • Research Issues in Applied Linguistics
  • Research Design and Experimentation in Language Teaching
  • Research Issues in Applied Linguistics
  • Reading in a Foreign Language
  • Statistics

PhD level:

  • Introduction to Quantitative Methods
  • Critical Approaches to Social Data for Applied Linguistics
  • Language Testing

Research Interests

Charles Alderson is Professor of Linguistics and English Language Education in the Department of Linguistics and English Language, and was Head of Department from 1994 to 1997. From 1997 to 2001, Charles was co-editor, with Professor Lyle Bachman of UCLA, of the international journal Language Testing, and is co-editor, also with Lyle Bachman, of the Cambridge Language Assessment Series (CLAS), published by Cambridge University Press in which the following books have already appeared:

  • Assessing Reading (Alderson, 2000)
  • Assessing Vocabulary (Read, 2000)
  • Assessing Languages for Specific Purposes (Douglas, 2000)
  • Assessing Listening (Buck, 2001)
  • Assessing Writing (Weigle, 2002)
  • Assessing Speaking (Luoma, 2004)
  • Assessing Grammar (Purpura, 2004)
  • Statistical Analysis for Language Assessment (Bachman, 2004)
  • Assessing Young Learners (McKay, 2006)
  • Assessing Language through Computer Technology (Chapelle and Douglas, 2006)

He is also editor of the series Into Europe , published by the British Council and the Teleki Foundation, Budapest, in which Reading and Use of English (Alderson and Cseresznyés, 2003), The Speaking Handbook (Csépes and Együd), The Writing Handbook (Gyula Tankó) and Listening (Katalin Fehérváryné H. and Karmen Pizorn) have been published.

From 1998 till Summer 2000, Charles was on leave of absence in Hungary, where he was Adviser to the British Council, on the English Examinations Reform Project, and Director of Studies of the PhD in Language Pedagogy at ELTE, Budapest.

He was Scientific Co-ordinator of the EU-funded DIALANG project, and welcomes applications from students wishing to engage in research in any aspect of the work of DIALANG or computer-based assessment more generally.

In 2003, Charles received a Leverhulme Research Fellowship to conduct research on DIALANG which resulted in his 2005 book Diagnosing foreign language proficiency: the interface between learning and assessment, published by Continuum

Before joining the Department in 1989, he was a Senior Teaching Fellow and Director of the Institute for English Language Education from 1985 to 1987. Prior to coming to Lancaster in 1980, he was Director of the University of Michigan's Testing and Certification Division, and he taught EFL and Applied Linguistics in West Germany, Algeria, Scotland and Mexico.

He has published many articles in professional journals on language testing, course design and evaluation, and reading in a foreign language. His most recent edited, co-edited and co-authored publications are:

  • Constructing School-leaving Examinations at a National Level - Meeting European Standards. Ljubljana: British Council and Državni izpitni center. (ISBN 961-6322-37-0) with Karmen Pižorn.
  • Into Europe: Reading and Use of English. Budapest: Teleki László Foundation. ISBN 963 86388 3 4.
  • Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, Teaching, Assessment. Case Studies. Strasbourg: Council of Europe Publishing. ISBN 92-871-4983-6.
  • The language assistant scheme in Slovenia: A baseline study. Ljubljana: The British Council, with K. Pižorn, N. Žemva and L.Beaver
  • English Language Education in Hungary, Part II: Examining Hungarian Learners' Achievements in English with colleagues Edit Nagy and Enikö Öveges, published by the British Council Hungary.
  • He is also co-author, with colleagues Caroline Clapham and Dianne Wall, of Language Test Construction and Evaluation, published by Cambridge University Press in 1995.

He has also co-edited:

  • Issues in Language Testing (1981)
  • Reading in a Foreign Language (1984)
  • Evaluation (1985)
  • Evaluating Second Language Education (1992)
  • Language Testing in the 1990s: The Communicative Legacy (1991).

Recent and current research projects directed by Charles include:

  • Diagnosis of reading proficiency in a second or foreign language
  • ELPACS - The validation of a test of English for air traffic controllers, funded by Eurocontrol, Luxembourg, 2006-7.
  • The Dutch CEF Construct Project, funded by the Dutch Ministry of Education, 2003-7
  • ESRC-funded project on Metalinguistic Knowledge, Language Aptitude and Language Proficiency
  • LUCAS Language Testing Software Development
  • For the Australian Government on the testing of migrant health professionals
  • For the Overseas Development Administration on the development of proficiency tests in Sri Lanka, and on the washback of a revised O-Level examination of English on Sri Lankan classrooms and teachers
  • For the British Council and Innovation in Higher Education on computer-based English language testing
  • For the ELTS Revision Project for the British Council, the University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate and the Australian International Development Program.

Charles was Co-ordinator of the ENLTA Project (European Network for Language Testing and Assessment), funded by the European Commission from 2003 to 2005 to create EALTA, an organisation of individuals involved in language testing or assessment at any educational level.

Current interests include all aspects of language testing, course evaluation, reading in a second or foreign language, and in-service teacher training. He is a member of the Reading Experts Group for PISA 2009 and at Lancaster he is a member of the Language Testing Research Group.

See full CV(PDF).

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