Sunday 20 June 2021
Integrating teaching, testing and technology: where angels fear to tread
with Thom Kiddle
This plenary presentation will address the areas of language teaching, testing, and digital technology, with the language teacher at the centre of the interaction between the three. We will ask and suggest answers to the questions of whether we are measuring the right things when we test students’ language; whether we are measuring in the best ways; why teachers mistrust tests and examinations; and how developments in digital technology are impacting on both classroom-based assessment and the world of international high-stakes language testing. The empowerment of teachers in terms of decision-making, competences, and confidence will be the central theme in an exploration of teacher fears and expectations of how teaching relates to testing, and whether digital technology offers solutions or threats for the classroom and beyond. There will be a particular focus on the assessment of spoken English, and we will address the question of whether inter-language mediation may be a better and more useful benchmark of linguistic competence than the traditional measurement of oral proficiency in English. With practical experiments, special guests, and insights from research and from learners, the session will entertain, challenge and engage participants to re-examine their assumptions and beliefs, and propose how we can take principled decisions, and avoid being the fools who rush in.
Q & A Session
What got you interested in the field you’re involved in in ELT and what is it about this topic that inspires you?
I've probably bitten off more than I can chew in tackling teaching, testing and technology together, but I feel they are increasingly intertwined. As a teacher, from my first classes I was frustrated that awareness of our students' progress seemed to sit mainly with results from final tests and exams and I personally believe that we are always assessing, sometimes without acknowledging it. Similarly, I have always felt that if we're on the front foot, then technology can be anything we want it to be... and nothing more or less. Those two beliefs have driven my career consciously and under the surface... though many of the twists and turns have been unplanned and unexpected.
As our audience is so international, could you mention anything about countries you have lived and/or worked in?
Before moving to NILE, I was lucky enough to live and work in Portugal, Australia, Thailand and Chile for extended periods, and those countries will always be part of who I am personally and professionally. One of the best things about my current role is the contact I have with teachers from countries all around the world, and I get to learn about different contexts and viewpoints on a daily basis. Some of the projects I’m most excited about in the coming year are an EMI project in Uzbekistan and an assessment project in Senegal, and as vice chair of Eaquals I really enjoy working with different language teaching organisations in Europe, and increasingly, worldwide.
Thom Kiddle has been a language teacher, tester and teacher trainer since 1997, though his involvement in teaching started much earlier in a very different arena! He was awarded the Cambridge Delta prize in 2004 as the first person to achieve a distinction in all modules of the Delta, and the IELTS Caroline Clapham award in 2011 for his MA dissertation on Language Testing. He is currently Director of Norwich Institute for Language Education (NILE), involved in teacher training, organisational management and strategic development projects worldwide, including the NILE Online teacher development programmes. He is also Vice Chair of Eaquals and founding director of AQUEDUTO (the Association for Quality Education and Training Online).