Article published in:The Language Testing Cycle: From inception to washback
Edited by Gillian Wigglesworth and Catherine Elder
[Australian Review of Applied Linguistics. Series S 13] 1996
► pp. 33–54
Developing language tests for specific populations
This article examines the decisions underpinning language test design in circumstances where existing tests are of questionable validity for particular subpopulations, or where no suitable test exists. Three strands of test development work are described, all concerned with the assessment of language abilities in bilinguals and speakers of English as a second language in Australia. The specific contexts discussed are: (1) the assessment of residual language-processing abilities following stroke; (2) the assessment of communicative ability following stroke; and (3) the assessment of first and second language abilities in Alzheimer’s dementia. For all of these purposes, tests need to be suitable for people of a range of ethnolinguistic backgrounds and degrees of bilingualism. Each context, however, raises its own set of considerations, and has therefore necessitated a different approach. In the first case, the starting point for the development of appropriate test content has been the investigation of a published aphasia test already available in many of the required languages. In the second case, an analysis of the communicative needs of a sample of stroke patients of non-English-speaking background was conducted, and content for a new measure selected on the basis of the results. In the third case, content selection has been informed primarily by the findings of empirical research on language decline in dementia.
Published online: 01 January 1996