Critical discourse analysis for language assessment

Lancaster University





In this workshop participants will be invited to consider the relationship between language assessment as a social phenomenon and politics in the broadest sense, from state-level policies to classroom-level practices. While the role of politics in language assessment has been discussed extensively by a number of scholars, it has not necessarily been subjected to systematic and theoretically rigorous analysis. Participants will be introduced to (or reminded of) the key principles of critical discourse studies (CDS) as an interdisciplinary endeavour, and the methodologies typically associated with one specific form of CDS, the discourse-historical approach. There will follow an opportunity to explore how these could be applied to a range of assessment-related contexts, including the language of test instructions and items, government language policies related to immigration, and media discourse on language assessment. In advance of the workshop, participants are invited to think about examples of language assessment contexts they feel are ideologically fraught or ethically problematic, and should come prepared to briefly describe one or two of these to the other participants.


One of the most clear-headed assessments of the current situation re: staff pay I’ve read

The Disorder Of Things

Justice League Super Hero Strike

In the face of a UK higher education marking boycott due to start in 11 days time, universities have come forth with a new pay offer. Having unilaterally imposed a 1% rise (read: real terms cut) for 2013/14, they are now proposing 2% for 2014/15, with a small bonus for those on the lowest band to bring them up to a living wage level (at Sussex, that’s an increase on the existing annual pay of £13,621). A consultative ballot is open to union members, and the boycott is delayed. It seems likely that there will be appetite for the deal, given the general tone of despondency and how drained staff are by repeated small scale actions and by mounting work pressures. There had, after all, been doubts that a boycott could compete with aggressive tactics from management (including threats to deduct full pay from anyone who participated in the boycott).

We might…

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