With the generous support of the non-profit company telc gGmbH we were able to launch the project “Scaling of Academic Language” (“Skalierung von Bildungssprache”) in August 2012. This project deals with the current debate on the academic-language needs of university students and schoolchildren whose native language is not German.
The ITT develops and evaluates reading and listening proficiency tests in cooperation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the company Language Testing International (LTI).
The Institute for Test Research and Development works in cooperation with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL) and the company Language Testing International (LTI). The ACTFL, with more than 12,500 members in the US and worldwide, is one of the largest organizations dedicated to language education and research. Its work focuses on degree programs and continuing education for language teachers, as well as quality improvement and assurance in language teaching, learning, and assessment. The LTI is the exclusive licensee of the ACTFL and has served as the official ACTFL testing office since 1992.
The Institute for Test Research and Development supports these organizations by conducting research and pilot studies on the quality of language-proficiency assessments, in particular reading and listening proficiency tests, for numerous languages.
These tests are used as placement tests and course exams, mainly by students from Leipzig University, but also by external participants. The cooperation between the Institute for Test Research and Development, the Language Center, and the ACTFL/LTI gives students opportunities that cannot be found at many other language centers in Germany, such as access to high-quality, research-based tests, which are generally free of charge for participants.
The scientific outcomes of the cooperation between the Institute for Test Research and Development and the ACTFL/LTI include not only the studies mentioned above but also manuals for item authoring, protocols for procedures to be followed in the test-development process, and a detailed and comprehensive construct matrix for tests of reading and listening proficiency. This approach of examining all components of a language-proficiency test through rigorous studies is unique and innovative. Furthermore, the assessment literacy materials produced, together with the continuing-education events designed for language teachers on the basis of these materials, have a direct positive effect not only on the development and use of assessments, but also on the organization and delivery of foreign-language teaching.
In the context of our cooperation with the ACTFL and LTI, reading and listening proficiency tests are used in various research projects, e.g. for the reliable evaluation of refugees’ or university students’ language skills.
The organization ITT e.V., together with the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), has participated in a Council of Europe project in which particularly successful examples of language tests at various levels of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) are presented. Additional information and examples can be found here: COE: Using illustrative tasks
In today’s interconnected and mobile world, proficiency in foreign languages is one of the most important skills in numerous fields, from science to business and industry. Accordingly, the accurate evaluation and certification of language proficiency is of paramount importance, not only for those who have learned or are learning a foreign language, but also for anyone faced with the challenge of ensuring that their employees, co-workers, or students truly possess the required and expected level of foreign-language proficiency.
In the context of this project, a competence-oriented assessment concept for textbooks in German as a foreign language has been developed that not only allows for the creation of reliable and valid tests for textbooks, but also makes them transparent for learners, fostering their assessment literacy. The project was motivated by the urgent need for action in this area of foreign-language teaching and learning.
The project deals with two current topics in research and practice: “Diagnostic Assessment” and “Digital Textbooks for German as a Foreign Language.” In this context, we are developing a concept for adaptive diagnostic assessment for online textbooks through the integration of these two topics.