Re-examining Language Testing : A Philosophical and Social Inquiry book cover
1st Edition

Re-examining Language Testing
A Philosophical and Social Inquiry

ISBN 9781138774704
Published June 16, 2015 by Routledge
244 Pages

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Book Description

Winner of the SAGE/ILTA Book Award 2016

Re-examining Language Testing explores ideas that form the foundations of language testing and assessment. The discussion is framed within the philosophical and social beliefs that have forged the practices endemic in language education and policy today.

From historical and cultural perspectives, Glenn Fulcher considers the evolution of language assessment, and contrasting claims made about the nature of language and human communication, how we acquire knowledge of language abilities, and the ethics of test use.

The book investigates why societies use tests, and the values that have driven changes in practice over time. The discussion is presented within an argument that an Enlightenment inspired view of human nature and advancement is most suited to a progressive, tolerant, and principled theory of language testing and validation.

Covering key topics such as measurement, validity, accountability and values, Re-examining Language Testing provides a unique and innovative analysis of the ideas and social forces that shape the practice of language testing. It is an essential read for advanced undergraduate and postgraduate students of Applied Linguistics and Education. Professionals working in language testing and language teachers will also find this book invaluable. 

Table of Contents


  1. Inference
  2. Measurement
  3. Language
  4. Numbers
  5. Validity
  6. Meritocracy
  7. Values
  8. Epilogue
  9. References

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“The creation of the field of psychometrics set out to reduce the uncertainty of measuring human abilities but not to deal with the underlying philosophical problem. Now, in this pioneering rethinking of the fundamental questions involved,  Fulcher has finally tackled the basic issues. There can be no question as to the importance of this book.” Bernard Spolsky, Bar-Ilan University, Israel

"Fulcher’s philosophical approach to language testing as a profession is both enlightening and thought provoking. It will present a major challenge for language testers in the years to come." Yan Jin, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, China

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