The British Council’s ‘New Directions in Language Assessment’ is a conference for the whole East Asia region, bringing assessment professionals, academics, policy makers and educators together to share their insight and experience of the latest developments in language testing. After starting in Beijing in 2014, the conference travelled to Tokyo, Seoul, and Hanoi, before coming back to China in Shanghai in 2017 for the launch of the China Standards of English. Last year’s gathering in Kuala Lumpur developed the theme of standards in assessment, generating much productive discussion, and now New Directions is preparing to arrive in Yokohama, Japan, on December 8th and 9th 2019. Yokohama is a port city close to Tokyo, and famously home to the largest Chinatown in Japan.
The theme of this year’s conference is: ‘Realising Potential: Policy, Engagement, and Impact’. Recognising the important role that testing plays in education and the lives of test-takers, New Directions 2019 seeks to present perspectives from across East Asia on how language assessment policy is created, how it is implemented, and the effect it has on language learning outcomes.
Within this main theme, there are five sub-themes:
Alignment of Policy with Context
·Language test policies often aim to use tests in ways that help particular groups, communities, or society as a whole. This means that local context is an important factor in choosing and developing language tests. This sub-theme explores how this is happening in East Asia, and the extent to which policy is effective in meeting its aims.
·Stakeholders in language tests include test-takers, teachers, and anyone who makes decisions based on the results of the test. This sub-theme looks at how different groups of stakeholders adapt to changes in assessment policy, and the impact that policy decisions have on them.
Assessment and Inclusion
·Language tests can have important consequences for test takers, so they need to be fair and accessible for all individuals. This sub-theme considers how policy makers, testing boards, and teachers are helping to achieve this.
Implementing Performance Assessment
·Performance assessment means assessing speaking and writing performance. For many, this is a new and exciting challenge as four-skills testing becomes more widespread. This sub-theme looks at what is happening to make performance assessment work, and the impact of assessing speaking and writing.
Technology and Consequences
·As technology advances, it is used more and more in delivery, assessment, and feedback on language tests. In this sub-theme, we explore the consequences of technology use for test-takers, educators, policy makers, and even tests themselves.
In addition to the five sub themes, there is also a general strand for outstanding proposals on innovative and interesting topics from the wider field of language testing. So, if you are interested in presenting on any aspect of this year’s themes, please go to the call for papers for more details about how to apply. We look forward to seeing you in Yokohama!