Language assessments for multilingual students: a critical review of the literature on international practices

Project: Research

Project Details

Description

This Multilingual Research Centre Collaborative Research Project aims to provide a comprehensive overview of practices, implemented around the world, for assessing the language skills of multilingual students in schools.

Despite being a linguistically diverse country, the Australian education system remains largely monolingual (Lo Bianco 2009). With English as the medium of instruction, current ‘English only’ assessment practices often fail to recognise the rich cultural and linguistic resources that multilingual children bring to the classroom.

Multilingualism is the use of more than one language in academic and everyday contexts. However, the current education assessment practice in Australia is deficient, as it does not measure the construct it sets out to measure (e.g. literacy and numeracy). Instead, it measures literacy in English and numeracy in English and forces multilingual students to suppress their literacy and numeracy abilities encoded in the languages other than English (Canagarajah 2006; Shohamy 2013).

Other countries, including Singapore and Canada, have implemented multilingual assessment approaches in schools to understand multilingual students’ integrated linguistic competence. Identifying and consolidating knowledge generated from the international education practices for assessing multilingual students can provide valuable lessons for Australian education system. This can be the initial step for developing inclusive and formative multilingual assessment approaches that can recognise their integrated linguistic competence.

Addressing this issue is timely as there are large numbers of students with multilingual backgrounds enrolling in Australian schools who must learn academic content in an environment designed for monolinguals.
StatusActive
Effective start/end date1/10/2030/09/21