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Bridging the gap between learning and evaluation: Lessons learnt from multilingual pupils

Issue: Vol 14 No. 1 (2017)

Journal: Journal of Applied Linguistics and Professional Practice

Subject Areas: Writing and Composition Linguistics

DOI: 10.1558/jalpp.39770


The use of non-dominant linguistic repertoires is often not valued in educational practices, let alone in educational assessment. The competences of multilingual learners are traditionally assessed by tests designed for monolinguals that do not represent the true capabilities of multilingual pupils, because their level of language proficiency in the text language does not reflect their wider abilities. Assessment needs to shift from evaluating a pupil in only the language of schooling towards assessment where the full multilingual repertoire can be used to demonstrate knowledge and competences. In this study, assessment preferences of multilingual pupils are explored, both in assessment accommodations for large-scale testing and in classroom-based assessment that is aligned with assessment for learning. Interviews with 35 pupils in fifth-grade of primary education (age 10–11) in Belgium were conducted. Results indicate that accommodations that use pupils’ first languages are not necessarily the most popular ones, that pupils are in favour of portfolios and oral assessments and that they need more feedback. The findings of this study suggest the need for instruction and evaluation to become more integrated, which would be beneficial for all pupils and could be more inclusive of emergent bilinguals rather than treating them as a separate group.

Author: Fauve De Backer

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