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Assessment in Multilingual Contexts: Trends & Challenges in Foreign Language Education

Online International Colloquium

supported by the Centre of Excellence for Multilingualism and Language Policy (NKUA)

09:15-10:00 Getting connected


11:15-11:45 Dina Tsagari, Professor, Oslo Metropolitan UniversityThe practice and challenges of assessing language competencies in multilingual learners

10:30-11:15 Bessie Dendrinos, Professor Emerita, National & Kapodistrian University of AthensMultilingual testing and assessment: Paths to achieving social and pedagogic goals

13:15-13:30 E-Coffee Break

11:45-12:30 Joanna Nijakowska, Professor, University of WarsawInclusive instructional and assessment practices with neurodiverse foreign language learners

10:00-10: 30 Welcoming remarksAspasia Velissariou, Professor, Chair of the Department of English Language and Literature, National & Kapodistrian University of AthensSara Cushing, Professor, Georgia State University, President of the International Langugae Testing Association (ILTA)Kia Karavas, Associate Professor, Member of the Scientific Committee:of the Centre of Excellence for Multilingualism and Language Policy (CEM)

12:30-13:15 Karin Vogt, Professor, University of Education Heidelberg, Germany Embedding feedback in Assessment for Learning

(+02:00 GMT, Athens Greece Local Time)

13:30-14:15 Bassey E. Antia, Professor, University of the Western Cape, South AfricaMultilingual Assessment: Conceptualizations and Pathways

14:15-14:45 Nicos Sifakis, Professor, National & Kapodistrian University of AthensToward ELF-aware assessment: which teacher competences and why?

14:45-15:30 Marilena Karyolemou, Associate Professor, University of CyprusTranslanguaging, bilingualism and language assessment: The case of Cypriot Arabic

15:30-16: 00 Panel Discussion & Closing remarks


(+02:00 GMT, Athens Greece Local Time)


Accelerated human mobility and migration, technological advances and globalization raise unprecedented challenges for social cohesion in superdiverse societies which require new forms of conviviality and tolerance. They require the ability to integrate people from diverse linguistic, educational and cultural backgrounds. This new social reality brings forth critical questions for researchers, policy makers and practitioners about the pivotal role of language teaching- learning, assessment and testing, wishing to optimize the abilities of each and every student – irrespective of background – so as to foster social cohesion and facilitate participatory citizenry. In the EU multilingualism policies are clear in their directives: Member States are urged to provide opportunities for school students to acquire two languages in addition to their mother tongue, to take advantage of the languages that migrant students bring to the classroom and to establish language-friendly educational environments, through whole-school policies. In the wider European context, the ‘multilingual turn’ in education is making a compelling case for the development plurilingual competence across the curriculum. To date, however, language education and especially testing and assessment continue to be monolingual enterprises. This presentation attempts to explain why this is so and suggests moving away from monolingual testing and assessment which have a significant backwash effect on teaching and learning. It goes on to define the notion of plurilingualism and to discuss the concept of cross-lingual mediation, which according to the CEFR CV is an aspect of plurilingual competence. In doing so, it provides examples from the KPG multilingual proficiency testing suite that uses cross-lingual mediation measurement construct. Finally, a few other projects being carried out in Europe and beyond are put forth as examples of the growing concern with the design and use of bilingual or multilingual testing and assessment. For the purposes of this presentation, these projects have been classified according to the social and pedagogical goals they serve.

Multilingual testing & assessment: Paths to achieving social &pedagogic goals Bessie Dendrinos


The practice & challenges of assessing language competencies in multilingual learners Dina Tsagari

A multilingual turn has taken root in education in the past decade, asserting “multilingualism, rather than monolingualism, as the new norm of linguistic and sociolinguistic analysis” (May, 2013, p. 1), and altering the key point of reference for discussing language development. The increasing representation of language-minority students in multilingual school settings entails compelling theoretical and practical implications for the field of language teaching and assessment (Shohamy, 2011; Schissel, 2014; Schissel et al., 2018). Researchers (Jessner, 2008; Cenoz, 2003) have called attention to the fact that being multilingual brings various advantages, both cognitively and socially and that the process of learning features of a third or later language is qualitatively different from learning what is generally referred to as a second language (L2). However, relatively little attention has been devoted to exploring the assessment of language learners in the context of multilingualism. The current presentation attempts to tackle the many issues and challenges that we face in our attempt to assess language abilities in multilingual environments. Language assessment across multiple languages of multilingual individuals is a complex institutional challenge. It requires departure from the usual testing procedures and introducing innovations in test design. How can we, as language testers, respond to the theoretical and empirical approaches that try to address these issues? How can we as, language teachers, deal with the assessment of multiple languages present in their classrooms? The aim of this paper is to address the critical themes in assessment in multilingual environments with reference to examples of approaches that have or may be adopted to solve this complex issue.


Inclusive instructional & assessment practices with neurodiverse foreign language learnersJoanna Nijakowska

The fact that people are naturally diverse learners is a commonly accepted concept. Consequently, sensitivity to individual differences and learner variability should be a driving force for educational decisions concerning teaching and assessment practices so that barriers to learning can be removed. In that way learners of all abilities can be given equal opportunities to succeed. However, it seems especially important for neurodiverse students (students with learning and thinking differences, e.g. dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, dyspraxia, Asperger’s syndrome). Neurodiversity means that brain differences are just that: differences. Celebrating differences is as important as acknowledging difficulties and disabilities in order for students to be eligible for support and services. To this end, in this talk I will focus on inclusive instructional and assessment practices with dyslexic foreign language learners. I will refer to the principles of inclusive teaching and Universal Design for Learning as well as to accommodations – defined as instructional and assessment practices and procedures that facilitate equitable meaningful access to academic content and assessment contexts. Assessment accommodations are meant to promote access to test content, while instructional accommodations aid and support student’s learning. I will stress that the starting point in classroom and assessment accommodations decision-making process is identifying individual student characteristics, predicting characteristics that may result in a need for accommodations, and then implementing the accommodations specified by educational regulations and policies. A recommended practice is that students gain experience in using accommodations in the classroom and practice using assessment accommodations before test or exam day. I will then discuss sample instructional accessibility features (e.g. in the domains of reading, writing, listening, and speaking) and available test/exam access accommodations in terms of presentation, response, equipment, timing, scheduling, and setting options. Importantly, some accommodations which are used for instruction may not be appropriate (and allowed) on state tests or during high-stake exams because they would interfere with the knowledge and skills that the test is intended to measure and in that way invalidate the results of these exams. I hope that the talk will boost teachers’ perceptions of their ability to create appropriately supported learning and assessment opportunities in the classroom, which, in turn, can improve academic outcomes of their students.


Embedding feedback in Assessment for Learning Karin Vogt

The focus of the presentation is on feedback that is seen as a bridge between language assessment and learning with a view to enhance plurilingualism. Starting from broader approaches to assessment, namely formative assessment and Assessment for Learning, the term feedback, which sounds so straightforward, is defined and explained against a socio-constructivist background, first for teaching and learning contexts in general and then as part of classroom-based language assessment. Since feedback is a complex concept and does not automatically have a positive effect on learning, the conditions for effective feedback will be outlined and illustrated with examples from the foreign language classroom, with the goal of enhancing plurilingual competences.


Multilingual Assessment: Conceptualizations and PathwaysBassey E. Antia

The idea of assessing students multilingually, unthinkable in some contexts previously, is now no longer an outlandish proposition. There is today a plethora of initiatives (conferences, books, special journal issues, organizations, funded research projects) devoted to the subject. However, there is a sense in which conceptualizations of the concept, its drivers and its operationalization may differ across stakeholder-communities and hinder the development of a coherent and critical body of scholarship. This presentation disentangles conceptualizations of multilingual assessment and surfaces the language ideological canvas undergirding different conceptualizations. Coupling the foregoing with a reading of the goals to which initiatives in multilingual assessment appear to be responding as well as with a mapping out of implementational opportunities, the presentation undertakes some conceptual ground-clearing and makes a contribution to what I would like to refer to as critical multilingual assessment literacy.

Toward ELF-aware assessment: which teacher competences and why?Nicos Sifakis

In this talk, I reflect on the importance of raising English language teachers’ awareness with regard to (a) understanding the importance of classroom-based assessment of English as an international lingua franca and (b) developing ways that would integrate such awareness in their practice, following the principles developed within the recently proposed ELF awareness framework. More particularly, I highlight the centrality of reflectivity and reflexivity (two forms of critical reflection that draw teacher’s attention to different aspects of their teaching, assessing and testing practices) within a classroom-based assessment that incorporates the principles of ELF awareness. These principles have a two-tier effect. On the first tier, they involve the learners and refer to (a) exposing them to a wide variety of authentic ELF interactions, and (b) raising learners’ self-awareness of their own profiles as ELF users (e.g., by playing video games, chatting on Skype and watching YouTube videos made in English by other ELF users). These activities aim at making learners’ aware of the variable linguistic structure of ELF, but, more importantly, link it to the underlying pragmatic context of each interaction. In this way, learners focus on appreciating the accommodation skills and strategies that need to be developed and, through their continuous engagement in such activities, progressively become more self-confident as ELF users. On the second tier, the principles of ELF awareness focus on the teacher and impact the ways in which they view assessment in their classroom context. In the talk I draw a rough outline of the competences that English language teachers are required to have as assessors and testers of their learners’ ELF awareness. These competences involve an ongoing critical reflection of the teachers’ own practices and deep-seated convictions about the role of assessment in language teaching and learning, and about the centrality of the native speaker norms in English language teaching, learning, assessment and testing.


Translanguaging, bilingualism and language assessment: The case of Cypriot ArabicMarilena Karyolemou

In my contribution, I will discuss the design and development of an assessment test prepared in the framework of the MapCyArS project (2017-2020) with the aim to evaluate Cypriot Maronite’s initial competence in Cypriot Arabic, a severely endangered oral language spoken by the community since Medieval times. The test takes into consideration the sociolinguistic reality of the endangerment situation, and in particular the fact that we cannot use standard language assessment methods because of the oral nature and endangered position of the language. The test also acknowledges the reality of language shift to (Cypriot) Greek for younger speakers and instead of dismissing the use of the dominant language as in many other language endangerment projects, it uses it in the evaluation process in a constructive and positive way. The test uses exclusively audio and visual material to assess knowledge of vocabulary, non-verbal activities to assess oral comprehension in narratives, and admits translanguaging as a way to assess CA conversational skills. It is divided into six internally rated activities that concern exclusively oral comprehension and production. Four of them target oral comprehension, one measures oral production; a last one assesses grammatical/metalinguistic competence. The test also uses authentic material in the form of narratives extracted from the Archive of Oral Tradition for Cypriot Arabic under construction. The project MapCyArS project | Mapping Cypriot Arabic speakers: An investigation into linguistic demography and the sociolinguistic profile of Kormakiote Maronites, was financed by the Leventis Foundation at the University of Cyprus (2017-2020).


Meet our Speakers

Bessie Dendrinos is Professor Emerita of the NKUA, which she has served for forty years, as a member of the Department of English and as Director of the RCeL (www.rcel.enl.uoa.gr). Her interests lie with socially accountable applied linguistics, CDA approaches to investigating language education policies, language curricula, materials and pedagogic practices, as well as language testing. Involved with the national exams for the certification of language proficiency – the multilingual examination suite known as the KPG – she is President of the examination board. Currently she is also president of the European organisation ECSPM (http://ecsp.org). Moving from theory to practice, she directed the team of experts who produced the ICFL, i.e., the new languages curriculum for compulsory education, implemented on a national level in 2016. She also directed the project through which English was introduced in the first grades of primary school, with an innovative curriculum and locally produced materials. Her academic publications include The Hegemony of English (co-authored with Macedo & Gounari), which won the 2004 American Educational Studies Association Critics’ Choice Award and has since been translated in several languages. Her newest publications include The Politics of Foreign Language Policies, Teaching and Testing (Pedio Publishers 2020), and Mediation as Linguistic and Cultural Negotiation in Plurilingual Education (Routledge 2021).

Dina Tsagari. PhD, is Professor in the Department of Primary and Secondary Teacher Education, Oslo Metropolitan University, Norway. She has also worked for the University of Cyprus, Greek Open University and Polytechnic University of Hong Kong.Her research interests include language testing and assessment, materials design and evaluation, differentiated instruction, multilingualism, distance education and learning difficulties. She is the editor and author of numerous books, journal papers, book chapters, project reports etc. She coordinates research groups, e.g. CBLA SIG – EALTA, EnA OsloMet and is involved in EU-funded and other research projects (e.g. KriT, DINGLE, ENRICH, TALE, DysTEFL, PALM, etc).

Meet our Speakers

Joanna Nijakowska is a University Professor in the Centre for Foreign Language Teacher Training and European Education, University of Warsaw, Poland. She holds a PhD in linguistics. A teacher trainer, specialist in second/foreign language acquisition and didactics, psycholinguistics and learning difficulties, she runs teacher training courses and workshops for ELT students and practitioners. She has authored and edited books (including Dyslexia in the Foreign Language Classroom) and research papers on dyslexia and effective foreign language classroom practices, effectiveness of foreign language training as well as foreign language teachers’ professional development needs, concerns and beliefs about inclusive teaching of students with specific learning difficulties. She was an initiator and co-ordinator of the award-winning (European Language Label 2014, Success Story 2016) international DysTEFL and DysTEFL2 projects (Dyslexia for Teachers of English as a Foreign Language), co-financed by the European Commission. She co-authored the award-winning (ELTons 2014) DysTEFL and DysTEFL2 foreign language teacher training materials on inclusive instructional practices with neurodiverse foreign language learners.

Meet our Speakers

Meet our speakers

Karin Vogt is Professor for Teaching English as a Foreign Language at the University of Education Heidelberg, Germany. Her research interests include, among others, classroom-based language assessment, intercultural learning, teaching practicums abroad, vocationally oriented language learning, the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages and digital media in the foreign language classroom.

Bassey Edem Antia is Professor of Linguistics at the University of the Western Cape, South Africa. His teaching and research interests span language policy and planning, terminology, multilingualism, health communication and corpus linguistics. Some of his ongoing work is attending to the diversification of languages and language varieties used in teaching, learning and assessment in higher education; the cultural politics and political economy of language; and the social semiotics of COVID-19. He has also researched the dynamics of terms in pedagogical discourses, the intellectualisation of African languages, and applications of terminology in a range of contexts (medical and veterinary anthropology, regulatory pharmacy, text analysis, specialised translation, etc.). As a consequence of holding university leadership positions and involvement in several capacity-building initiatives, he intermittently writes on facets of higher education management. He has authored, edited and co-edited books (Benjamins Press, Amsterdam/Philadelphia); his articles on language education have appeared in journals such as Linguistics & Education, South African Journal of Linguistics and Applied Linguistics, Language Policy, and the International Journal of the Sociology of Language.He is currently involved in BAQONDE, a project funded by the European Union's Erasmus+ programme that promotes the use of African languages in Higher Education in South Africa.

Meet our Speakers

Meet our Speakers

Nicos Sifakis is Professor of Teaching English for Specific Purposes in the Department of Language and Linguistics of the Faculty of English Language and Literature of the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens. He holds a BA (1st Class Hons, 1990) in Computational Linguistics and a PhD in Language and Linguistics (1994) from the University of Essex (UK). From 2003 to 2020 he served as a faculty member of the Hellenic Open University (HOU), where he acted as director of the Postgraduate Programme titled “Teaching English as a Foreign/International Language. His research interests include intercultural communication and pedagogy, teaching and researching English as an international lingua franca, language teaching methodology, distance education, adult education and teacher education. His research papers appear in many international refereed journals (among others, Applied Linguistics, TESOL Quarterly, ELT Journal, English for Specific Purposes, International Journal of Applied Linguistics, Language and Education, System, World Englishes), edited collections and conference proceedings.

Meet our speakers

Marilena Karyolemou is Associate Professor of Linguistics at the University of Cyprus. Her areas of interest are Language policy and planning, the Sociolinguistics of the Cypriot dialect, Endangered languages and Cypriot Arabic. She has been actively involved in the creation and management of the School of Modern Greek (University of Cyprus) and is currently a member of its Academic Board. She has been a member of the Academic Board of the University Language Centre (2009 | 2019); served as external evaluator for the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth in the area of teaching Greek as a first/second language; represented the University of Cyprus at the Committee for the Standardization of Place Names (1997 | 1999), the European Federation of National Institutions for Language (EFNIL 2010 | 2015), and Campus Europæ as a Foreign Language Teaching Expert (2009-2014). She is a founding member of the Cyprus Linguistics Society and of the Cyprus Bilingualism Association and an appointed member of the Committee of Experts for the Revitalization of Cypriot Arabic at the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports and Youth. She is also responsible for the revitalization of Cypriot Arabic and for the creation of an Archive of Oral Tradition.

Organizing CommitteeJenny Liontou & Kia KaravasNational & Kapodistrian University of AthensRecipients of the International Language Testing Association (ILTA) Collaboration and Outreach Award 2019-2020

The event is supported by the Hellenic Association for the Study of English (HASE) and the Bilingualism and Psycholinguistics (BiPsy) Lab, Department of English Language and Literature.