Office of Language Assessment

Advanced Workshop photo


Sponsored by the College, University of Chicago

In November 2017 the Chicago Language Center (CLC), with funding from the College, launched the Language Pedagogy Innovation InitiativeTM. This initiative is organized around a reverse design model that uses language assessment to spur innovation in language pedagogy and build a solid foundation for language teaching and testing practices across the University.

This initiative is an iterative cycle of language assessment workshops, test design and development, and curriculum design and development, with professional development at each step and financial support for the development of tests and curricula by senior instructional professors and instructional professors of all ranks and L2 lecturers.

  1. A prerequisite for participation in the LPII is ACTFL’s Oral Proficiency Interview (OPI) training, to establish a shared understanding of proficiency across languages.
  2. Participants must then attend the Language Center’s Language Assessment Workshop, to build a foundation of language assessment and reverse design.
  3. Participants are then eligible to participate in Test Design Workshops, to create and fully develop an end-of-sequence assessment (e.g. end of first-year). Returning participants may only need to participate in a Test Design Refresher Workshop
  4. Once a test is in place, participants can take part in Curriculum Development, including Online Course Development.
  5. For curricula without descriptive outcome standards, participants can also engage in Domain Analysis projects. Once the domain has been defined, the next steps are Test Design and Curriculum Development, resulting in a Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) assessment and/or course.

The initiative covers three language proficiency levels: Language Competency, Practical Proficiency, and Advanced Proficiency. Some languages may also need to design interim assessments that fall between Competency and Practical Proficiency in order to inform their curriculum.

  • Competency: the ability to perform basic language functions expected after one year of language instruction.
  • Practical Proficiency: the ability to function in most personal and some academic or professional settings.
  • Advanced Proficiency: the ability fo function in a wide variety of settings, including all personal settings and many academic or professional settings.

For information on how to apply, visit Application Procedure and Timeline.

Language Assessment Workshop

Along with Oral Proficiency Interview training, this Language Assessment Workshop serves as an entry point University of Chicago’s Language Pedagogy Innovation Initiative (LPII).

  • These workshops are not limited to those who will be creating exams.

By attending a workshop, participants will be able to:

  • Review concepts, terms and principles of language assessment relevant to the given level (Competency, Practical, or Advanced).
  • Gain the fundamentals and terminology to be applied to test design.
  • Understand principles of designing a proficiency-based language test that measures four skills, integrated with reverse design.
  • Use Proficiency Guidelines to identify proficiency levels and measurable outcomes (i.e., target functions) appropriate to the target language for the given level.
  • Begin the process of item design, as well as selecting and working with authentic materials and input.

Test Design and Development

Grants to (re)design Competency, Practical or Advanced, and, in some cases interim assessments in individual languages:

  • Tests must measure real-world, functional language proficiency in all four skills (speaking, writing, reading and listening) at the given level.
  • An iterative process of proposal, test design and revision, then test development and revision must be followed. Each step is laid out in the Timeline.
  • Test design and development takes place optimally over breaks or gradually over one or two quarters.
  • You must attend a corresponding workshop to be eligible to apply for a test development grant.
  • Applications for test development are due approximately three weeks after a workshop.  Participants will receive up to $1,500 upon completion of a fully developed, approved test.

Curriculum Design and Development

Grants to realign and redesign curriculum to meet Competency, Practical, or Advanced outcomes:

  • Instructors must submit a detailed proposal, identifying the desired outcomes and outlining how the redesigned curriculum will achieve those outcomes.
  • Grants are also available for the development of intensive sequences and entirely new courses that align with established assessment outcomes.
  • A corresponding assessment must be in place before applications for Curriculum Grants can be submitted.
  • These awards will be granted during Summer 2021 for the 2021-2022 academic-year courses.
  • Participants will receive up to $4,500.00 upon completion of curriculum development.

Domain Analysis

A domain analysis is a systematic analysis of language use in specific domains in order to identify and define the specific knowledge, skills, and abilities one must possess in order to function in the target domain (i.e., in the specific real-world language use context), and is a pre-requisite for developing a Language for Specific Purposes (LSP) test or curriculum through the LPII. Learn more here.

Online Language Course Development

This is a comprehensive pedagogy, curriculum, and professional development program that helps language instructors create online courses for select language curricula. Learn more here.

Intensive Language Sequences

Grants to develop new, academic-year intensive sequences to deliver more than one year of instruction in a three-quarter sequence. As in all LPII curriculum development, a corresponding proficiency test must be in place before applying for this grant.

  • Instructors can elect to combine first- and second-year courses, culminating in Practical Language Proficiency Certification, or, second- and third-year courses, culminating in either Practical or Advanced Language Proficiency Certification.
  • These awards will be granted during Summer 2021 for the 2021-2022 academic-year courses.
  • Participants will receive up to $4,500.00 upon completion of curriculum development.