Susan Gollagher & Jessica Florent, ICTE-UQ
Bridging the language assessment gap: academics and language teachers collaborate

Rising numbers of EAL students in foundation and university programs mean that language teachers increasingly need to collaborate with academics when they support EAL students’ language development in the disciplines. This may lead to the challenge of supporting disciplinary experts to assess highly specialised language skills in spoken and written genres.

This presentation reports on one example of collaboration between a School of Dentistry and a university English language centre. In this context, a language teacher collaborated with academics and clinical supervisors to assess first year students’ speaking skills in dentist/patient interactions in clinical settings. The presentation will describe the challenges and opportunities encountered through the process of helping academics to rewrite assessment criteria to include language, and to introduce processes to standardise marking and feedback on language. The presentation will also describe how language teachers assisted academics to use video for the purposes of assessment for learning as well assessment of learning.

The presentation will leave time for discussion of participants’ experiences of talking language to professionals outside our field.

Since 1992, Susan Gollagher has designed and delivered EGAP and ESAP programs in Egypt, Turkey, the UK and Australia. In her current role as Academic Manager: Concurrent Support at ICTE, she is responsible for the design, delivery and management of English for Academic Communication programs that aim to develop the academic language and literacy skills of EAL students in UQ Schools including Engineering, Law, Architecture and Dentistry.

Jessica Florent has been a TESOL language teacher since 1997, developing expertise in teaching English for Specific Purposes. In Indonesia and Spain, she taught professional English in company and English for marketing and commerce in tertiary institutes. Since becoming Senior Teacher: Concurrent Support at ICTE, she has focused on developing a support program for Dentistry students at UQ leading to her current interest in collaborating with academics to assess language in the disciplines.