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SPEAKERS

KEYNOTE SPEAKER

We are honored to welcome the following speaker to this year's AALA conference.

Fumiyo Nakatsuhara

Centre for Research in English Language Learning and Assessment (CRELLA)

Title:

Transforming English educational systems: Speaking assessments in educational contexts

Abstract:

The introduction of speaking assessments in educational contexts can be controversial, despite the consensus among educators that assessing all four skills is essential for reforming English education systems. Japan is no exception. It recently faced deferral and cancellation in implementing a new university admission examination system, in which four-skill private-sector English examinations were to be used to supplement or replace the National Center Test for University Admissions English component, which did not include product skills. The Tokyo metropolitan government's initiative of introducing a new speaking test for all 3rd year junior high school students further exemplifies how such innovations can elicit strong reactions from critics, potentially hindering innovative policies. This talk discusses the testing of spoken skills in Japanese and other EFL countries’ educational settings and explores their potential contribution to the reform of English education.

Bio:

Fumiyo Nakatsuhara is Professor of Language Assessment and Deputy Director of the Centre for Research in English Language Learning and Assessment (CRELLA) at the University of Bedfordshire, UK. Her research interests include the nature of co-constructed interaction and spoken production in various speaking test formats and delivery modes, the impact of test-taker characteristics on test performance, task design, rating scale development, and the relationship between listening and speaking skills. She has led a number of international testing projects, working with ministries, universities and examination boards.

PLENARY SPEAKERS

We are honored to welcome the following speakers to this year's AALA conference.

The speeches will take place on September 3 and 4.

Gary Ockey

Iowa State University

Title:

Insights into the potential of Spoken Dialogue Systems for delivering L2 oral communication assessments

Abstract:

In this presentation, I will describe a study that provides insights into the potential for a Spoken Dialogue System (SDS) to deliver an assessment appropriate for assessing second language oral ability. I will begin with an explanation of the principles underlying a homemade SDS. Then, I will discuss research which includes test takers’ views on taking an assessment with an SDS; four trained judges’ ratings for interactional competence, fluency, pronunciation, and grammar/vocabulary across a human partner and SDS condition; and four different trained judges’ ratings of 12 features of interactional competence across these two conditions.

Bio:

Gary J. Ockey is a professor of applied linguistics and technology at Iowa State University. He investigates second language assessments, with a focus on the use of technology and quantitative methods to facilitate measurement of oral communication. He has published widely on the topic of second language assessment and served as the co-editor of Language Assessment Quarterly.

Jessica Wu

Language Training and Testing Center

Title:

From GEPT to BESTEP: 20+ Years of Taiwan Language Tests

Abstract:

The General English Proficiency Test (GEPT) has been Taiwan's leading English proficiency test for over two decades. However, the new BEST Test of English Proficiency (BESTEP) will debut in September 2023 to promote bilingual education at the tertiary level by assessing university students' written and oral competencies, essential in Taiwan's EMI milieu. This presentation examines the past and future of language testing in Taiwan, including the challenges and trends encountered while developing both tests. The BESTEP operates in an increasingly complex bilingual education environment, requiring more effort to co-construct test validation with key stakeholders, practice learning-oriented assessment, foster assessment literacy, and utilize technology. By prioritizing learners and stakeholders, these challenges can become opportunities for comprehensive teaching, learning, and assessment.

Bio:

Dr. Jessica Wu holds a PhD in Language Testing and serves as the Director General for R&D at the LTTC. For over two decades, she has been dedicated to developing localized tests in Taiwan, including the General English Proficiency Test and the recent BEST Test of English Proficiency for College Students. She also serves as an adviser to the government on the development and administration of L1 tests. She has authored multiple articles and book chapters in the realm of language testing, and her research has been presented at prestigious conferences globally. Dr. Wu's expertise is recognized internationally through her leadership roles in organizations like AALA (Past President 2019-2020) and ALTE (Individual Expert Member). She was honored with the Davies Lecture Award in 2022. Currently, she focuses on building a locally appropriate model for bilingual education in Taiwan, aiming to empower learners through inclusive and culturally relevant approaches.

Vahid Aryadoust

Nanyang Technological University

Title:

The Next Frontier: Advancing Language Assessment with Science of Learning and Generative AI

Abstract:

In this plenary speech, I will be presenting the opportunities and challenges of integrating the Science of Learning (SoL) and Generative Artificial Intelligence (AI) to advance language assessment. SoL provides insights into how individuals learn, process, and acquire language, and sensor technologies play a crucial role in gathering data that can inform these insights. The use of sensors such as eye trackers, neuroimaging technology, and facial emotional analysis allows for the collection of rich and diverse data on language learners' cognitive and affective states, providing a more comprehensive understanding of the language learning process. Furthermore, adopting Generative AI in language assessment can lead to even more powerful applications. Generative AI can generate various forms of content beyond language, such as auditory, verbal, and multimodal content. I argue that this capability has significant implications for language assessment and learning, where learners can receive personalized content and feedback tailored to their individual needs and preferences, practice in a variety of contexts, and engage with different types of media. 

Bio:

Vahid Aryadoust, an Associate Professor of language assessment at the National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, specializes in language assessment, meta-analysis, Scientometrics, and sensor technologies. His research has been published in prestigious journals such as Computer Assisted Language Learning, Language Testing, System, Current Psychology, Language Assessment Quarterly, Assessing Writing, Educational Assessment, Educational Psychology, among others. He has also contributed to books and book chapters published by renowned publishers like Routledge, Cambridge University Press, Springer, Cambridge Scholar Publishing, Wiley Blackwell, and more.

 

Dr. Aryadoust has led assessment research projects supported by educational fund-providers in Singapore, USA, UK, and Canada. He serves on the Advisory Board of several international journals and was awarded the Intercontinental Academia Fellowship in 2018-2019. As an advocate for knowledge-sharing, equity, and free education, he established the "Statistics and Theory" YouTube channel to share his expertise in quantitative methods and theory. In recognition of his exceptional use of social media, his YouTube channel received the John Cheung Social Media Award in 2020.

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