Assessing L2 Listening

Larry Vandergrift, Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute, University of Ottawa
Presentation Date: 
February 23, 2012

The word assessment comes from the Latin assidere, meaning to sit beside. This notion evokes the image of learner and teacher working together to improve learning and teaching. Involving learners in assessment helps them reflect on their learning, set goals, monitor progress, and regularly evaluate their goals. In the case of listening, learners become aware of the cognitive processes and develop greater metacognitive awareness of listening to help them better regulate their comprehension processes. This leads to greater learner investment and motivation and, ultimately, autonomous language learners. Comprehension, the product of listening, can be assessed by a variety of informal and formal methods. In this webinar, we will examine and discuss a number of examples of formative assessment of listening. We will then discuss some issues related to these examples, as well as some well-known examples of summative assessment, in light of five important criteria: 1) validity; 2) reliability; 3) authenticity; 4) washback; and 5) practicality.