Andrew Stokes, MA (Cantab.), Dip. TEFLA, graduated in Modern and Medieval Languages from Cambridge University. He has taught English for the Ministry of Education in Spain, Universiti Sains Malaysia, and the British Council. Andrew has spoken at conferences worldwide, and written numerous articles for the educational press. He is a co-founder and Managing Director of ClarityEnglish, winner of the English Speaking Union President’s Award for Innovation in Technology, the HKICT Award (Best Product) and 2017 Finalist of the British Council ELTons Digital Innovation Award.


Maximising the potential of technology in language testing
There is increasing demand from institutions to deliver placement tests using student’s own smartphones, tablets and laptops. The key advantages to the institution are cost and time. There is no equipment cost, the tests are machine marked and results are immediately available. A fully digital test also saves teachers from the onerous task of marking large numbers of test papers. Designing such a test throws up a number of questions. Here are just five:
1. Is it possible to identify a student’s level of English using a purely digital test, with no human intervention, in 30 minutes?
2. Can a digital test be made to work in an environment with poor, or intermittent Internet? Do institutions prefer to use mobiles or computers?
3. Will a test delivered digitally give the same results as one delivered on paper?
4. What kind of question types are most appropriate? What kind of tasks work on a mobile, but not on paper?
5. How can we use technology to make students engage more with a test — or even enjoy it?
For the last three years, the presenter has been working with TELC, a quasi-governmental language testing agency in Germany, to answer these questions, and to create a fully online test. The outcome, the Dynamic Placement Test, was published in January 2017 and is being rolled out in different countries and different educational contexts across the world. We will look at different scenarios in which the test has been used: National Taiwan University, the British Council HOPES project in the Middle East, and a language school in the UK.
In the second part of the session, participants will be able to try the test themselves.