What is Language Assessment? In the context of language teaching and learning, ‘assessment’ refers to the act of collecting information and making judgements about a language learner’s knowledge of a language and ability to use it. Although some people consider ‘testing’ and ‘assessment’ to be synonymous (Clapham, 1997), many use the latter term in a broader sense to include both formal measurement tools, which yield quantifiable scores, and other types of qualitative assessment, such as observation, journals and portfolios (Davies, Brown, Elder, Hill, Lumley and McNamara, 1999: 11). What unifies the variety of tests and assessments is that they all involve the process of making inferences about learners’ language capacity on the basis of ‘observed performance’. Despite this common feature, assessment practices vary according to the
purpose for which assessment information is required. Broadfoot (1987) identifies a number of broad purposes for educational assessment:
• ‘Assessment for curriculum’ (providing diagnostic information and motivating learners).