2017 International AALA Plenary Speakers
(listed in alphabetical order by the speaker's last name)
Professor Yuko Goto Butler
Yuko Goto Butler is an Associate Professor of Educational Linguistics at the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. She is also the director of the Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL) program at Penn. Her research interests are primarily focused on the improvement of second/foreign language education among young learners in the U.S. and Asia as well as assessment methods for them in response to the diverse needs of an increasingly globalizing world.
Title: Self-assessment for Young Learners: A Tool for Assisting Learning
Abstract: Self-assessments (SA), including "can-do statements," have gained substantial attention in recent years as an alternative assessment for young learners (defined as children up to 12 years old) of second and foreign language (L2/FL). However, educators of young L2/FL learners have often expressed concerns about a lack of accuracy and subjectivity of SA. In this talk, I introduce two orientations towards assessments: a traditional measurement-based orientation (assessment of learning) and a learning-based orientation (assessment for leaning). I argue that the commonly addressed concerns with accuracy and subjectivity of SA are primarily originating from the assessment of learning. Considering young learners’ linguistic, cognitive and social-affective developmental characteristics, I discuss how SA can be used as an assessment for learning in order to assist young learners.
Professor Sebastian Liao
Hsien-hao Sebastian Liao is a Professor of English and Comparative Literature in the Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures at National Taiwan University, Taiwan. He served as President of the Comparative Literature Association of Taiwan (ROC) (2002-2004), Commissioner of the Department of Cultural Affairs of Taipei City Government (2003-2006), and Secretary General of National Taiwan University (2008-2011). Formerly the Executive Director of the Language Training and Testing Center (Taiwan), he is now a member of the Board of Directors. His main research fields include comparative poetics, literary and cultural theories, Anglo-American fiction, modern Taiwanese literature and culture, red-ology (Hongloumeng studies), and cultural policy formation.
Title: Why the localization of language tests matters: A cultural perspective
Abstract: Locally-produced English language assessments are considered to be more appropriate for assessing local learners’ proficiency in English than generic international language tests that are intended to suit test-takers around the world. Yet the merits of a locally-produced test remain only claims or wishful thinkings unless the intended impact can be empirically observed. In line with the theme of the conference, Connecting assessment with teaching and learning: innovation and impact, in this presentation I will first discuss the localization of language tests from a cultural perspective. I will then defend the usefulness of implementing local assessment systems (i.e., the GEPT and the GEPT Kids) to improve the EFL education in Taiwan and offer various examples of innovation that have catalyzed learning. I will conclude with suggestions on how to strengthen the relationships among assessment, learning, and culture at both micro- and macro-levels.
Dr. Nick Saville
Nick Saville is a member of Cambridge English's Senior Management Team and Director of the Research and Thought Leadership Division. He is also the elected Secretary-general of the Association of Language Testers in Europe (ALTE), and has close involvement with other European initiatives, such as the Council of Europe's CEFR and related 'toolkit'. He has a PhD in Language Assessment focusing on test impact. Nick has recently completed a volume on Learning Oriented Assessment with Neil Jones (SILT Volume 45). He was a founding associate editor of Language Assessment Quarterly and is currently joint editor of the Studies in Language Testing series with Professor Cyril Weir.
Title: A Systemic Model for Connecting Assessment with Teaching and Learning
Abstract: This talk introduces the concept of Learning Oriented Assessment – LOA. It will be argued that LOA can be used to inform the planning and implementation of educational reforms at a national level, with a particular focus on language assessment to support learning. By using this conceptualization, language professionals are encouraged to reimagine the ecology of language learning in their own educational contexts, and to implement educational reforms that lead to more effective learning outcomes based on internationally recognised levels of achievement.
Criterion-referencing is central to this approach and a fundamental principle is to ensure that assessment goals are closely aligned to specific learning outcomes. In other words, a framework of reference with a learning ladder at its core is needed so that progress can be understood in relation to increasing levels of communicative language ability expressed in can-do terms (rather than traditional pass/fail grades).
When implemented effectively, the model offers teachers and learners a meaningful picture of progression and the capacity to measure learning more accurately and consistently. It also empowers key stakeholders to work more collaboratively in a systemic way to raise standards over time.
Finally, the audience will be invited to reflect on LOA in their own schools and classrooms and to consider the role that digital technology will play in future to stimulate greater creativity in learning and teaching and to deliver innovative assessment systems that achieve better impact by design.
Professor Benson Yeh
Benson Yeh is a Professor in the Department of Electrical Engineering at National Taiwan University. A leading innovator in Technology Enabled Learning (TEL), Prof. Yeh created PaGamO, a game system that significantly enhances students' motivation and learning performance. In recognition of PaGamO and Prof. Yeh's contribution to TEL, he won both the Overall Award and the E-Learning Award at Wharton-QS 2014 Stars Reimagine Education Awards, known as the "Oscars" of innovation in education. Prof. Yeh was also a recipient of the Presidential Innovation Award, the highest such honor in Taiwan.
Title: Peer-to-Peer Learning & Assessment
Abstract: How can we keep students engaged to the class? How can we make our students motivated to learn and to do assessment? These have been the most challenging questions for teachers nowadays. Prof. Yeh developed a series of Peer-to-Peer Gamification schemes following his unique teaching philosophy: "For the student! By the student! Of the student!" In this talk, Prof. Yeh will explain how his award winning gamification scheme and other P2P schemes work for different courses. He will show the amazing results from his students' course work. It is the new paradigm shift for the education of future.