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Brief report on ILTA Colleague Association Session at TESOL 2019

Wednesday, May 8, 2019   (0 Comments)
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At TESOL 2019 in Atlanta, ILTA was again invited to run a 90-minute workshop on a language assessment-related topic. This year’s workshop was titled “What’s the word? Assessing Vocabulary Size and Depth” and was convened by Diane Schmitt (Nottingham Trent University), Norbert Schmitt (University of Nottingham), and Benjamin Kremmel (University of Innsbruck). After a brief introduction to ILTA and its activities, participants were given a concise overview of some of the key theoretical issues in vocabulary assessment. Four practical guiding questions were used to facilitate the discussion: Why assess vocabulary? What vocabulary should be assessed? What aspect(s) of word knowledge should be assessed? How do we best receive the necessary information for our desired interpretations?

The majority of the interactive session was then spent by attendants working in small groups on handouts of different vocabulary test item formats, discussing the advantages and disadvantages of various approaches to vocabulary assessment, as well as pitfalls in designing, using and interpreting these items types. The participants, around 60 in total, appeared very interested and keen to debate potential uses in their own local teaching contexts and many of them stayed beyond the end of the session to engage in lively discussions with and receive further advice from the workshop leaders. The final discussion of different formats in plenary further revealed strengths and limitations of these item types and helped arrive at a better understanding of what specific formats can and cannot tell us about aspects of the multifaceted construct that is vocabulary knowledge, as well as which formats and tests might be suitable for some purposes but not for others. Overall, the workshop was very well received and we are looking forward to continuing the collaborative effort between the organizations to maintain the fruitful partnership.

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