Sketch Artist, Pier Paolo, with TIRF President, Kathi Bailey

ALTE – the Association of Language Testers of Europe – was established in 1989 by the Universities of Cambridge and Salamanca. According to the ALTE web site, “The initial aim was to establish common standards for language testing across Europe, thereby supporting multilingualism and helping preserve the rich linguistic heritage of Europe.” Another important purpose was for test takers to be able to obtain “a language qualification that was a fair and accurate assessment of their linguistic ability, one which was recognized around the world, and which could be accurately compared to qualifications in other languages.”  ALTE now has over 50 Institutional Affiliates as well as several hundred individual affiliates. (This latter group consists of individual members of ALTE. Anyone can become an ALTE individual affiliate, and it is free of charge. You only need to fill out a form to be added to the mailing list to receive emails about ALTE activities.)

This month, when ALTE members gathered in Bologna, Italy, three TIRF Trustees participated in the conference. Dr. Nick Saville, the

From Left to Right, TIRF Trustees Nick Saville, Joe Lo Bianco, and Kathi Bailey

Secretary-General of ALTE, participated as both an organizer and a presenter. TIRF Trustee Joe Lo Bianco gave the opening keynote address, which was entitled “Language policy and social cohesion: What links between social environment and regimes of learning and assessment?” And TIRF President Kathi Bailey gave a plenary presentation on “Language testing washback and impact in our globalized world.”

There were also three other plenary presentations: Kristina Cunningham presented on the topic of “Connecting policy and practice at European level”; Dr. Jin Yan talked about “Construct and content in context: Implications for language learning, teaching and assessment in China”; and Dr. Helen Yannakoudakis and Dr. Ardeshir Geranpayeh co-presented on “Making the connections: Digital innovation and diagnostic feedback.” In addition, there were poster sessions, reports of works in progress, and several panels.

Over 500 delegates participated in the conference. In addition, there were individual talks given by over 200 presenters from 31 different countries, for example Belgium, China, US, Canada, Sweden and Japan. The topics covered included assessing teachers’ target language proficiency, English as a medium of instruction, civics, and citizenships tests.

At the end of the conference, an afternoon was dedicated to a forum on Language Assessment for Migration and Integration – LAMI.  The presenters included David Little (Trinity College Dublin), Piet van Avermaet (Ghent University), Philia Thalgott (Council of Europe), and representatives from the Italian Ministry of Education and Ministry of the Interior.

“This was a terrific conference,” said Kathi Bailey. “The participants were very engaged and the organization of the program was great! I was happy to be able to tell people about TIRF in my presentation and to learn so much about language testing in Europe and elsewhere.”

The conference presentation slides, pictures, and video/graphic recordings of the plenaries will be available soon. Interested readers can follow ALTE on Facebook and Twitter, where these developments will be announced.