Six very common flaws of foreign language assessment

The Language Gym

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  1. Teaching – Assessment mismatch

Often foreign language instructors test students on competences that have not been adequately emphasized in their teaching or, in some cases, have not even been taught.

The most common example of this refers to the issue of task unfamiliarity, i.e. the use of an assessment tool or language task the students have never or rarely carried out prior to the test. This can be an issue, as research clearly shows that the extent to which a learner is familiar with a task will affect his/her performance. The reasons for this refer to the anxiety that the unfamiliarity engenders and the higher cognitive load that it poses on working memory, especially when the task is quite complex. By doing a task over and over again prior to an assessment involving that task, the student develops task-related cognitive and metacognitive strategies which ease the cognitive load and…

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