Language Assessment for Classroom Teachers

by Lyle Bachman and Barbara Damböck
OUP 2017

Assessing language learning has always been a tricky issue for many teachers, whether they work in private or public schools and regardless of the level they teach: primary, secondary, university or even adult education courses. There are many questions that teachers ask themselves, especially about when and how to assess their students’ learning.

Language Assessment for Classroom Teachers might be the light at the end of the tunnel, as it provides a new approach to classroom-based language assessment, based on current theory and the needs of classroom teachers.

The book is divided into four parts. Part I is the Introduction, which talks about where this new approach comes from and provides background information about the material, the contents of the book and who would benefit from reading it. It then delves into language teaching and classroom-based language assessment, the decisions one has to make in the classroom and modes of assessment.

Part II gives an overview of the approach and discusses why, when, what and how students should be assessed, as well as interpreting the results.

Part III is devoted to applying the approach and creating language assessment tasks, the administrative procedures to take into account and scoring, among other issues. Part IV illustrates the process of classroom-based language assessment by means of nine examples, bearing in mind all four skills: listening, reading, writing and speaking.

Chapters 2 and 3, in particular, contain a number of activities that clarify and reinforce what is said in the book – and which, I would suggest, will make the reader think further. At the back of the book, there are three appendices with a checklist of things to consider before using language assessment, plus templates and answers to all the proposed activities. There is also a glossary with definitions of some technical terms, as well as suggestions for further reading. Other resources can be found on an accompanying website.

In spite of the potentially daunting nature of the subject, the authors present things in a straightforward and accessible fashion, making the book a very educational and useful resource for teachers, Masters and Diploma students, and other professionals interested in this area.

Having read the book from cover to cover, I am beginning to question my own previous language assessment beliefs. I have had the opportunity to try out a few of the techniques the authors propose, and I can now see why classroom-based assessment is a fair approach to follow. Reading this book was a real eye-opener for me as a teacher. Needless to say, I would definitely recommend it.

William Chaves Gomes
London, UK