Dr. Elana Shohamy: Critical Issues of Assessment of Multi-Bilingual Populations

| March 16, 2015

See the video of the presentation here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XJtL2WrmSH8&feature=youtu.be

Where: 150 Horace Mann, Teachers College, Columbia University, 525 West 120th Street, New York, NY 10027

When: April 2, 2015, 5:10-pm-6:50pm


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Dr. Elana Shohamy’s work challenges current monolingual assessments of bi- and multi-lingual users, proposing instead prototypes of multilingual assessment based on the full language repertoire.

The paper challenges the practice of language tests where bi- and multi-lingual users are expected to demonstrate language proficiency on monolingual tests and are compared to their monolingual counterparts, which in effect, penalizes their bilingual competence. It argues that these tests are based on outdated views of language as a standard and finite system, which do not allow other languages to ‘smuggle in’ as they suppress students’ multiple language competencies. These views, which reflect assimilative nation state ideologies, are in stark contrast to the current understanding of multilingual and multimodal competences where various languages interact with one another in creative ways. These tests are problematic especially for immigrant students who are in the process of acquiring new languages while continuing to use their home languages. Data on the use of bi-multilingual tests for assessing academic knowledge pointing to the advantages for bilingual test takers will be shared along with multilingual assessment prototypes to demonstrate their superior construct validity due to their basis on the full language repertoire that highlights the
advantages of bilingualism rather than its problems.

Dr. Elana Shohamy is a professor of Language Education at the School of Education, Tel Aviv University where she researches topics of multilingualism within the contexts of critical framework, language rights and co-existence.


For more information, contact Lauren Wyner, Program Secretary, at bilingual-bicultural@tc.columbia.edu or 212 678 3758