If you’re new to #ELTassessment and #ELTitemwriting, you might find this conversation I had with Jim Fuller on his YouTube Channel, Sponge ELT useful.

And because the topic might be quite advanced at first, here’re some scaffolded ‘loop-y‘ notes you might want to follow this time, to help you process the material. 🙂


As you follow the conversation, tick the topics you hear mentioned, then answer the following questions.

1) What were your ‘Three Key Takeaways’ (=3 new ideas)? 

2) Was there anything about the topic of assessment that you’d like to know more about that was not mentioned? Where might you research it?

3) Will you try any of the ideas out? Do any of the courses? Read any of the books? In other words, what’s your ‘Action Plan’ now that you’ve watched the video?  


Q1: “Who is Fatime?”

• teacher trainer, materials writer, item writer

• a recovering learn-a-holic: trying to focus on SKILLS over (just) knowledge, i.e. check for ‘immediate utility’ (e.g. GRE Psychology)

• an overall curious person (aka geek: languages, psychology, history)

Q2: “Why the interest in assessment?”

• exams=a learning organizing tool (e.g. Cambridge C1 Advanced, C2 Proficiency; DELE C2), provide a comprehensive curriculum (materials, books, etc. –exam boards guarantee I’ll learn relevant things)

• assessment started out as language assessment for me (with grandpa’s vision of fluent English, fluent Spanish)

• became addicted to exams and qualifications of other types (e.g. Russian? Chinese?!)

• especially like direct and criterion-referenced assessment

Q3: “What does assessment actually mean?”

• what we make of it (i.e. importance of clarity about objective) 

–e.g. find out what the learners know, don’t know (‘areas of improvement’), what motivates them, monitor their progress, encourage them, find out if our teaching is ‘working’, inform external stakeholders, etc…?

–not OK not to be conscious of goal(s) or abuse of assessment as a disciplinary tool

–when do we assess?

            â€“before instruction: diagnostic, entry, placement

            â€“during instruction: assessment for learning (formative)

            â€“after instruction: assessment of learning (summative; ‘benchmark’)

–the “future” of assessment: 

            â€“CAT (Computer Adaptive Testing), AI (Chat GPT?!)

            â€“new partnerships between traditional providers, business platform partners (“Uber-university” model); new approaches to assessment?

            â€“micro-credentials/accreditation, build-your-own ‘degree’ approach

Q4: “What are some of the challenges around assessment?”

• lack of clarity around (multiple?) purposes

• harder to write than it seems:

            â€“reliable, valid, fair, practical; backwash?!

            â€“e.g. MCQs: distractors plausible

            â€“math and stats! (…and software!) (e.g. Item Response Theory, equating, calibrating)                   

            â€“stress! (intrinsic motivation; learner autonomy; mindfulness/meditation/SEL)

Q5: “How can teachers develop their assessment literacy?”

• learn another language and take language exams 

            â€“e.g. DELE*/DALF

            â€“*DELE C2:

                        â€“Paper 1) (language in use, reading, listening)

                        â€“Paper 2) integrated (!) skills: listening, reading, writing

                        â€“Paper 3) integrated (!) skills: reading, speaking

            â€“ask to prepare Ss for exams! (download Cambridge handbooks, past papers, compare)

            â€“Cambridge Assessment:

                        â€“A101: Introducing the Principles of Assessment

                        â€“A102: Introducing Assessment Practice

                        â€“A103: Introducing Data Literacy

                        â€“A104: Psychometrics in Educational Assessment

                        â€“other Cambridge Assessment courses, free webinars, newsletter

Q6: “What is your take on developing skills for exams?”

•…that we should DO it (testing ≠ teaching!)

• CELTA-level skills-development not enough (e.g. reading for gist, then detail)

• past papers not enough (post-hoc, not deep/specific)

• course books often lacking too (too generic/shallow)

• skills teaching= sub-skills teaching (as on Delta, to prompt Ss to consciously decode/encode)


            â€“actionable steps

            â€“take learner through

            â€“raise awareness

            â€“consciously repeat

            â€“see www.fatimelosonci.com for more (e.g. free Masterclassblog); LinkedIn

Q7: “What book recommendations do you have for teachers interested in #ELTassessment?”

• for teaching IELTS: How to Teach Yourself IELTS Essay Writing (Amazon)

• for developing assessment literacy: 

–Arthur Hughes: Testing for Language Teachers (CUP, 1989)

–H. Douglas Brown: Language Assessment –Principles and Classroom Practices– (Longman, 2003)

–J.B. Heaton: Writing English Language tests (Longman, 1988)

–Alderson, Clapham & Wall: Language Test Construction and Evaluation (CUP, 1995)

• for item writing (more advanced): 

–Rita Green: Statistical Analysis for Language Testers (Macmillan, 2013)

–Lyle F Bachman: Statistical Analyses for Language Assessment (CUP, 2004)

–Glenn Fulcher and Fred Davidson: Language Testing and Assessment –An Advanced Resource Book– (Routledge, 2007)

— —

Hi. I’m Fatime. I’m an IELTS Teacher Trainer, helping CELTA-qualified English language teachers become better at teaching SKILLS, as opposed to just testing them. 

Check out my courses here:

How to Teach IELTS Listening:

How to Teach IELTS Reading:

How to Teach IELTS Writing:

How to Teach IELTS Speaking: