The resources here are curated in order to provide a more in-depth knowledge of language assessment and testing.

Online Resources in Testing and Assessment

  • Language Testing Resources Website — a website maintained by Professor Glen Fulcher that provides a wealth or resources related to language testing. Fulcher mentions that it features “resources on language testing, such as articles, features, videos and audio, [which] are made freely available for language teachers, language testers, and students of language testing, applied linguistics, and languages.”
  • International Language Testing Association (ILTA) –ILTA is an international group of language testing and assessment scholars and practitioners whose dedication and work are respected both within and outside the profession, and who together define what it means to be a language tester.
  • Program for International Student Assessment (PISA)–a triennial international survey which aims to evaluate education systems worldwide by testing the skills and knowledge of 15-year-old students.
  • Midwest Association of Language Testers –The purpose of the Midwest Association of Language Testers (MwALT) is to foster understanding of the principles of language assessment in educational settings in the Midwest.
  • Association of Language Testers in Europe –ALTE is an association of language test providers who work together to promote the fair and accurate assessment of linguistic ability across Europe and beyond. They also feature resources on their site that are helpful for designing assessments related to the CEFR.
  • Canadian Association of Language Assessment –CALA is a professional and academic association dealing with language assessment in Canada.

Academic Journals

  • Assessing Writing
  • Language Assessment Quarterly
  • Language Testing
  • Language Testing in Asia
  • Papers in Language Testing and Assessment
  • Journal of Educational Measurement
  • Directions in English Language Teaching and Testing

Books

  • The Companion to Language Assessment (4 volume set) — This set includes 140 articles written by 185 authors and is the most comprehensive and authoritative account of the field of language testing and assessment assembled to date.
  • Language Testing in Practice: Designing and Developing Useful Language Tests by L. Bachman & A. Palmer
  • Fundamental Considerations in Language Testing by L. Bachman
  • Criterion-Referenced Language Testing by James D. Brown
  • Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices (2nd Edition) by H.D. Brown & P. Abeywickrama
  • Measurement and Assessment in Teaching by Miller, Linn & Gronlund

If you have ever written a conference proposal and gotten rejected, then you’ve probably been left wondering why your proposal was not selected over others. Writing a successful conference proposal continues to be a daunting task for us as teaching professionals. Whats more, the feedback we receive on rejected proposals is often written in cryptic commentaries that provide little to no direction on how to better successfully meet future proposal expectations. We know that the work that we do both in and out of the classroom is valuable and can help make a difference in our field when shared with others, but the conference proposal for many of us continues to be a murky genre navigate.

In this blog post, I’ll cover share some of the genre expectations behind the conference proposal and provide you with some tips on writing one. This post is written with a nod to a Swalsian genre analysis perspective of the conference proposal in that it attempts to identify the major moves of the genre.

  • Indicate the structure/format of your presentation. It is important that you indicate to your reviewer what they can expect to occur in your presentation. Think of this like a loose outline of a lesson plan. If your presentation is more of a workshop, then identify what the main activities your participants will be doing. If it is more of a paper presentation where you are presenting a particular teaching practice(s), then indicate how the various sections of your presentation will be divided. Don’t get too specific, but at least commit two to three sentences to helping your audience understand that you have made a detailed plan for your presentation. Use some of those sequence transition phrases you’ve been teaching your listening/speaking students to use when giving the introductions of their academic presentations.
  • Integrate major approaches and terminology in the field that aligns with your presentation. This may mean you need to dust off that methods book from graduate school, make a visit to INTO OSU’s professional development library or browse through a recent publication of TESOL Quarterly (or another relevant journal in the field) through OSU’s library database. The key here is to refer to an approach or sub-discipline of the field that helps your reviewer place how your presentation fits within the interest section and/or session type you are submitting your proposal to, and for that matter, the field of language teaching and research as a whole. Are you submitting your proposal to the English for Specific Purposes interest section? Then what buzzword/term would you use to help place your presentation? Is there a framework or approach that is often referred to within the area of language English teaching or research that you are presenting on? In my recent TESOL proposal, for example, I mentioned in my title the phrase “Business English” to help place my presentation within a subset of English for Specific Purposes, which is the interest section I submitted my proposal to. By narrowing the focus of your presentation and being more specific with the approaches and terminology that aligns with your presentation, you help distinguish your proposal from the more general content and areas that are likely to see the most submissions. Your reviewer should be able to see that your presentation fits clearly within a specific niche within the field of TESOL or Applied Linguistics.
  • Identify a research/teaching gap. This is where you place the importance of your presentation within the field. There are generally two ways of accomplishing this. One way is by referring to current research citing that there is a problem area or lack of some type. Research studies in teaching listening, for example, might indicate that we need more ways of teaching listening strategies in our English for Academic Purposes (EAP) courses, but that teachers lack training and materials for helping them accomplish this. You can cite a recent study in a major journal that supports this gap, then follow this up by mentioning that your presentation fills this gap through your demonstration of listening strategy instruction. This is what I like to think of as filling the research gap. The second way is the inverse of the first. Instead of research indicating that there is a gap, you use your own teaching context as support for the gap. A recent research study might indicate the importance of using corpus driven vocabulary materials in the classroom, yet your own experience in creating and using these materials in the classroom might demonstrate that students often don’t view these materials as important for language learning, and what’s more, teachers lack the training to use and create these materials. Your action research presentation on designing on implementing corpus driven vocabulary materials fills this teaching gap by showing how these difficulties can be addressed and (hopefully) overcome. Thus you are filling the teaching gap with your presentation. The key with this move is to make reference to one recent study that justifies a need for your presentation, showing in the process that there is a disconnect/gap between theory (research) and practice. I’ve generally seen most conference proposals only make use of one to two in-text citation references. I would error on the side of using a more recent article in the field than a dated seminal one, unless it connects directly to the approach you are taking (see previous point).
  • Describe what your audience can expect to get from your presentation. This is an easily overlooked aspect of a conference proposal. We can get so focused on what we will cover in our presentation and how it connects with pedagogy that we forget the perspective of our audience. When our audience leaves the presentation, what will they walk away with? Will they come away with a new teaching tip that they can easily integrate into the EAP reading/writing classroom? Or will attendees come away with an understanding how a specific approach to content-based instruction be applied to teaching Business for English for Specific Purposes? This is usually the last part of the conference proposal, but it is vitally important in helping your reviewers understand that you have carefully considered how your presentation can contribute to the field and attendees. I like to think of this section as the conference attendees’ version of learning outcomes and objectives. In a 2016 TESOL presentation that I collaborated on with Lauren Funderburg, we included this last line in our proposal help describe the takeaway for reviewers: “Attendees will leave the presentation with handouts outlining TED Talk related tasks and activities, our choice of TED Talks designed to fit specific language learning objectives and criteria and steps for the digital curation of TED Talks.” You want to limit the use of personal pronoun and focus on the audience as the subject.

In addition to considering some of the rhetorical moves described here, it is important to carefully consider the interest section, content section or thread that you are submitting to. Some areas tend to get much more submissions than others. Pick up a recent catalog of presentations or look up some of the past sessions online, then you can see what sections get the most submissions. Try  to tailor your presentation to fit within one of the sections that often sees less submissions. If you do end up submitting to one of the more saturated content areas, be sure your presentation is novel and strong enough to stand alone from the rest of the herd.

 

Related Links:

Publishing online course content to Canvas has almost become a necessity for us as teachers. We need to make our content accessible to learners and cut down in printing costs. But how effectively do we design our courses? Are they readily accessible to our students?

In the following blog post, “Seven Deadly Sins of Online Course Design,” DePaul University instructional designer Adam Sanford outlines some of the biggest mistakes that teachers make when designing content online. He then recommends how these pitfalls can be avoided.

I know that I have sometimes made the mistake of what he calls digital hoarding, where I overshare by providing a number of assignment related materials with too little context. This was a good reminder that more is not necessarily better when it comes to providing students with resources. And by providing a short description of a resource (perhaps in parenthesis) students will be able find the resources they need to complete a task more efficiently, which is much better than dumping a big heap of uncurated links and files on a page in Canvas.

In my experience, digital hoarding comes about because students are not meeting the expectations for a specific task or assignment. For instance, in one class I found that, as students were struggling with their reading response assignments, I continually uploaded more materials online in an attempt to help them. The problem wasn’t a lack of materials, though. Rather, it was that the assignment and grading criteria needed to be completely revised to provide more clarity. I simply needed a few quality materials, not a large quantity of them.

Which of Sanford’s 7 sins of course design seem especially salient for you? Where do you think you can make improvements in course design?

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The NY Times article, “Chinese, Studying in America, and Struggling,” was shared by INTO OSU’s Chinese Language & Culture Advisor, Alice Wang. Below you’ll find her comments about the article. As much of our student population is from China, this cultural perspective is vitally important for teachers to consider. Here are Alice’s comments:

While some international students are struggling at American universities, instructors are being challenged to teach and help them. To achieve success, students must do their part, and equally important, instructors and professors need to understand the difficulties their students face in order to adjust their teaching to encourage and offer support to international students.

 

As Oregon State University pushes towards more hybrid and online courses, it becomes important for us as teachers to find ways to become familiar with and to implement the technological tools that our students will be using in their future classrooms. This requires us to carefully consider the differences between the online environment and the face-to-face one as well as principles of effective teaching required in the online environment. The following article from the Canadian Journal of Learning and Technology (2008) highlights some of these differences and outlines 9 principles for excellent in web-based teaching.

An absolutely riveting online course: Nine principles for excellence in web-based teaching

What are some of your experiences with online course instruction and course development? What principles mentioned in the article seem especially salient to your experiences and understanding of web-based teaching? Feel free to add your comments below.

In the future, we plan to include a number of book reviews for different books in the professional library. The following review for New Ways in Teaching Connected Speech was published in The Electronic Journal for English as a Second Language. This book integrates the teaching of listening and pronunciation in a way that is approachable to both beginning and experienced teachers. You can find the full book review here:

New Ways in Teaching Connected Speech

Writing a conference proposal can be a daunting experience for teachers, especially for those of us who have never written one before. Even after reading through a call for proposals, a number of questions often remain for the proposal writer. Below are some resources provided by TESOL members on what makes a successful proposal and are a great place to start after you’ve read through a call for proposals for an upcoming conference.

 

 

In the upcoming months we’ll be adding content to the blog so that teachers have one central location to address their professional development needs.

Some of things you can expect to be posted here include PED write ups, professional development article and book reviews, Professional Conference Call for Proposals (CFPs), and much more!

We invite teachers to post their own comments and contribute. We look forward to hearing from you!

Randy Rebman
Elisabeth McBrien