NATESOL Teachers’ Conference 2012 

 ‘How do we know the roots are growing? Testing, evaluation and assessment in second language learning’

Opening plenary: Luke Harding, Department of Linguistics and English Language, University of Lancaster

                   What lies beneath: dealing with the hidden in language testing, assessment and evaluation".

I’d like to start from the question in the conference title: "How do we know the roots are growing?" Using the idea of roots, I’ll begin by exploring the difficulty of dealing with what is "hidden" in language testing, assessment and evaluation, and the challenges this presents for research and practice in the area. Specifically, I'll talk about two quite different senses of what is "hidden": (1) the challenge of understanding what skills or knowledge the tasks we create are actually tapping when we set a test or an assessment task (and here I will focus on perhaps the most "hidden" skill, listening comprehension); (2) the challenge of looking behind the perceived "certainty" which formal testing and assessment often promises. I will conclude by arguing that the only way to address these challenges is through increased language assessment literacy among teachers, testers, and other decision makers.


Closing plenary: Dave Allan, Norwich Institute for Language Education

                      “Taking TEA in(to) the 21st Century”


ELT has seen massive changes in syllabus design, materials and methodology since the early days of communicative language teaching, but only recently has the impact on TEA of things like item-banking, the Common European Framework, and digital technology become really significant on a major scale, with implications and opportunities not only for exam boards but also for classroom teachers. We will quickly trace the changes that have taken place in TEA in the last 50 years, with particular reference to the last two decades, then explore in more detail how item-banking, computer adaptive tests, corpora, and online delivery can improve the quality of the instruments we need for formative and summative purposes, while also seeing how the development of detailed rating scales linked to meaningful external frameworks can make criterion-referenced assessment more valid and more reliable.

Additional sessions:

‘Strategies for using Interactive Whiteboard technology to support learner autonomy, critical thinking and exam preparation – with or without the whiteboard’  D.Byrne, The Manchester College / K. Gould, University of Salford.

‘Context, cohesion and English language teaching: evaluating developments in learners’ language and skills in ESOL engagement projects’ – B. Davies, Salford City College

 ‘In search of a unified approach to teacher appraisal and professional development’. D. Fogerty, INTO 

‘How can assessment support learning? A learning oriented approach’. Dr. M. Hamilton, Cambridge ESOL

‘Does self-assessment promote learner autonomy?’ S. Sheehan, The British Council

‘Teaching spelling to learners who fail spelling tests.’  J. Stirling, freelance/NILE

‘Self-evaluation in the language class – the role of the ‘other.’’  J. Wright, Manchester Metropolitan University

Other events

Refreshments and Lunch

CV and CPD Clinic

Saturday, 9th June 2012

Salford City College
Worsley, Greater Manchester 

Entrance Fees: £25 for publishers & non-members.

£20 for members.  Members concessionary rate £15

9-9.30am – Registration.    Event to finish 5pm.




Free Parking - Close to Buses and Trains 
5 minutes walk from 'Walkden' Train Station
Bus numbers 12, 68, 293 and 556 stop outside the centre.   Bus numbers 12, 31, 36, 38, 39, 68, 293, 550, 551, 553 and 685 all stop near to the Walkden Centre.

Salford City College
Walkden Sixth Form Centre
Greater Manchester
M28 7QD

Pre-registration is required- please email Jonathan Nicolson at the email address below. 


Pre-registration is required with Jonathan Nicolson at or 0161 789 4970.  

NATESOL’s programme consists of 6 sessions during the academic year.
* Individual membership per year: £10 - Free attendance at each session
* Institutional membership per year: £50.
* Non-members pay £4 per session, concession £3

To renew your membership, become a new member, or just receive information about future sessions, then please contact:

Jonathan Nicolson at 6 Stafford Rd. Eccles. or telephone 0161 789 4970.


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