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März 2015

English for Academic Purposes

telc - language tests at the 5th EAP Conference in St. Andrews, Scotland

“Assessment in EAP: what’s the score” was the topic of the latest EAP (English for Academic Purposes) Conference on 28 February 2015. The 5th EAP Conference took place on the beautiful campus of St. Andrews University where Prince William and Princess Kate met a few years ago. St. Andrews is Scotland’s first University and the third oldest in the English speaking world.

This year’s conference focused on English Language Assessment: this topic has never been hotter than now. A very complex part of EAP professionals’ work, it is a topic frequently revisited, and one on which it is very difficult to reach any consensus. As universities are increasingly encouraging new forms of assessment, the EAP teachers face new challenges. Technology-enhanced assessment, marking procedures and criteria, and assessing different genres are all current issues that have to be dealt with. Naturally, with this year’s conference theme, a representative of telc English! had to be present: Thus Thomas Jones, teacher, consultant and telc expert, spoke about “Assessing the assessors”.

Taking a look at the life of an examiner and the world of assessment from the inside, Jones discussed questions such as “What are exams worth and to whom?” and “How does an exam board convince people it is one?” He also spoke about how teachers can prepare successful candidates, as there always is a trade-off between teaching a language or teaching a test.

The audience confirmed: English Language Assessment is never easy, and questions related to it are never easy to answer. Assessment will continue to be an important topic for quality assurance.

Thomas Jones has been an activity leader, teacher, and center manager and principal at schools in France, Greece, Spain, Indonesia, Australia, the USA, UK and Mexico. He now runs his own company and works with a variety of organizations. He is a speaker and consultant for telc English!

Read more on the conference and the presentations here.