|Jessica Wu has been the head of testing development at the Language Training and Testing Center (LTTC) in Taipei since 2006. In this capacity she has been in charge of test validation, research, and development for the General English Proficiency Test (GEPT) and the other foreign language testing programs conducted by the LTTC. In 2005, she earned her Ph.D. from the University of Surrey in Roehampton (UK). Her research interests include oral assessment and the impact of large-scale language testing. This interview was conducted via email in March 2009.|
[ p. 9 ]At the LTTC, I am currently heading the testing department, where I focus on test validation, research and development for the General English Proficiency Test (GEPT) and the other foreign language testing programs conducted by the center.
|". . . it is important to consider the social context and ethicality of test use, and these are fundamental questions for language testers in the 21st century . . ."|
[ p. 10 ]In the past, people tended to believe that it was not the testers' responsibility to worry about the test takers after a test had been handed to the users. However, I think that testers and stakeholders should share the responsibility to guard against test misuses. It is definitely necessary to have better communication among testers and stakeholders (teachers, researchers, test-takers, score users). For test developers, it is also necessary to disclose information about test-takers that is relevant to educators and the decisions they have to make. Testers and stakeholders should work collaboratively to maximize the beneficial consequences of the test and to minimize the unintended consequences of the test.
[ p. 11 ]The GEPT is a five-level criterion-referenced EFL testing system that was developed in response to comments by educators and by employers from various industries about the general lack of ability to communicate in English due to 'old-fashioned' approaches to English education in Taiwan, which has over-emphasized the importance of grammatical accuracy. In other words, it is hoped that the GEPT can not only assess learners' knowledge of English but also their ability to use English in real life situations. Therefore, each level of the GEPT consists of listening, reading, writing, and speaking tasks. That was considered a rather revolutionary move in comparison with Taiwan's paper-and-pencil high school and university entrance exams, which do not assess listening and speaking skills. Before the GEPT was available, Taiwan's EFL educators thought it would be impossible to administer listening and speaking tests on a large scale. However, the GEPT has proved those concerns to be incorrect. Now, not only has language assessment become a topic of wide discussion in Taiwan, but the GEPT has also brought about positive washback effects. The most significant effect is that productive skills of writing and speaking are receiving more attention from teachers and learners, as reported in an impact study (Wu & Chin, 2006) and by many students and teachers of English in high schools and universities (Wu, 2008). It's worthwhile noting that the GEPT has successfully promoted a shift in English teaching and learning to a more communicative orientation. Such an influence can be attributed to successful interactions between the GEPT and teachers. More broadly, we can see a valuable reciprocal relationship between teaching and testing, which is exactly what the GEPT project has aimed to accomplish.
|"The primary concern of any language test revision process should be to ensure that the test reflects as closely as possible real-life language use contexts and results in favorable learning outcomes."|
[ p. 12 ]References
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