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Test Design

New Avenues Linguistic Services inc. firmly believes that the language proficiency of employees should be assessed as it pertains to their occupation and not as per knowledge of the overall structure of the language. This is the reason why we launched into the design of occupationally-related language tests as early as 1984 and continue to add more each year.


After tests were created for the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario from 1982 to 1984, we were required to design occupationally-related assessments for Health Units and Community Care Access Centres in eastern Ontario. Other organizations followed suit and we created tests for a variety of positions mainly in the health care and social services fields. Santé Manitoba also asked us to design second language assessments.  We have designed second language assessments for the City of Ottawa. The Ontario College of Teachers has also retained our services to design their second language proficiency assessments.
We can design job-specific assessments upon request.

 

Job-specific Language Assessments

 

Language Testing for Hiring Purposes

It is often essential for Human Resources professionals to ascertain proficiency in the English and/or French language of employees or candidates.  Language assessment is valid and desirable in determining the strengths and weaknesses of employees’ language skills.

 

Since 1983, New Avenues Linguistic Services inc. staff have been conducting language assessments to determine if candidates or employees are functional in their second language skills to accomplish their working tasks (see linguistic profiles).

 

Human Resources departments sometimes ask their own staff to conduct in-house assessments on the assumption that it is a more cost-effective and efficient solution for their organization.  Others use outside agencies which use placement tests (used for placement in language training classes) to measure the functional level of potential employees in specific positions.  These are unreliable as they do not measure the language skills needed for specific positions.

 

Over the years, New Avenues Linguistic Services inc. has proven that profession-specific tests, if properly designed and administered, display greater accuracy, validity and fairness in language testing than do general standardized tests.  Profession-specific tests ensure that candidates are not being required to meet a level of general fluency unnecessary and irrelevant to their work.  They also ensure that such candidates are fluent in the particular language that is essential for competent linguistic performance in their field.

 

Moreover, a third party evaluation relieves Human Resources staff of possible internal pressures and gives valued expertise in the case of grievances.

 

 

Test Components

- Oral interaction:

A thirty to forty-five minute private recorded interview is conducted with the candidate to determine pronunciation, grammar, socio-linguistic competence, vocabulary, fluency and comprehension.

 

- Reading and writing:

Reading comprehension and written expression are assessed through the answering of questions on a given job-specific text and the writing of a job-specific letter, memo or report in the language being assessed.
One hour is allowed for these two components (dictionaries and grammar books are provided for the test). Grammar tests are also available.

 

Methodology

Language assessments can be conducted face to face, over the phone or through Skype.



 

LANGUAGE ASSESSMENTS

Language testing covers a variety of realities.

 

Placement tests and language assessments for hiring purposes are not used for the same purpose. Read on for more information.

 

- Placement Test for Classes

 

A placement test is just that: a test used to determine what a candidate knows as per a language training program distribution of levels in order to PLACE the candidate in the appropriate program level. It has nothing to do with measuring the second language knowledge of a candidate as per the occupation he or she is in or wants to be in. Yet, placement tests are found to be used to measure the ability of a candidate to meet the linguistic requirements of his or her present or potential occupation.  Each language school offers a language training program of its own choosing and has carved out the structure of the languages they teach into a variety of levels of proficiency.

 
For language training candidates to be successful in their training, it is critical that students-to-be be placed in the appropriate level of proficiency, hence the placement test offered to each prospective participant. That result can in no way be equated with a functional level of proficiency in one’s occupation. To claim otherwise is to render a disservice to the client.