Fostering Regional Ties: Applied Linguistics Student at the Second Asian Association for Language Assessment Conference in Bangkok
By Rongchan Lin
How do we evaluate language assessment using ‘fairness’ and ‘justice’? In his engaging address at the 2nd Annual Asian Association for Language Assessment (AALA) Conference, Professor Antony Kunnan, President of AALA, prompted the audience to think about how language assessment should be fair to test takers, and how institutions need to be just to test takers. Drawing on the two disciplines of philosophy and language assessment, Professor Kunnan unpacked the notions of fairness and justice, and highlighted the crucial role of language testers in the responsible use of language assessment.
Hosted by Chulalongkorn University, the 2nd AALA Workshops and Conference brought together a group of eminent experts in the field of language assessment to Bangkok, Thailand, from April 30th to May 2nd, 2015. Bonded by their passion for language assessment, scholars and graduate students from various regions, both within and outside of Asia, gathered together to discuss issues pertinent to language assessment and to advance our understanding on a variety of topics: from assessing young learners to test-takers’ strategy use in language assessment.
For Xiaohua Liu, a doctoral student at the University of Auckland, it was an exciting and rewarding experience as it was his first time presenting at a major conference. Besides sharing his findings at the poster session, Xiaohua also enjoyed his interaction with the conference participants. “I made some friends who are also Ph.D. students and doing research in the same field. I also had unforgettable talks with some excellent scholars, whose works I frequently referred to but had never met before. I’m really grateful for their words of encouragement.”
Like Xiaohua, I had the golden opportunity to learn from many renowned scholars at this star-studded conference, including Yan Jin, Yong Won Lee, Aek Phakiti, David Qian, Yasuyo Sawaki, Bernard Spolsky, and Jessica Wu. Apart from presenting my paper, I also had the chance to attend a workshop on assessing speaking by Dr. Talia Isaacs from the University of Bristol.
As the co-chairs of the AALA Student Committee, Sha Liu and I were also delighted to share with the participants our efforts in establishing the committee at the Business Meeting. With a special focus on language assessment in Asia, we aim to promote the following 3Cs in the operations of the Student Committee: 1) facilitating the building of competencies related to language assessment for graduate students; 2) enhancing communication between student members and other stakeholders (e.g., assessment agencies etc.); and 3) fostering collaboration both within and outside the AALA student community.
In working to provide support for fellow graduate students, I was extremely heartened that the AALA Executive Board endorsed the Student Committee’s proposal in the granting of two student awards for the 3rd AALA Conference to take place next year. The merit-based AALA student grants would cover the conference registration fees of graduate students at the AALA annual conference.
The three-day event was a fruitful and exciting one, and I truly appreciated the hospitality of our hosts. Besides being intellectually stimulated, I was also inspired by the enlightening presentations and benefitted from the audience’s feedback with regards to my paper. Spurred by the dedication of the Executive Board, I look forward to working with my peers and continuing to serve the board and fellow student members in promoting language assessment.
The Asian Association for Language Assessment (AALA) was founded by a group of language assessment specialists in Asia to promote language assessment in the region. For more information on AALA, please visit: http://www.aalawebsite.com/
About the author
Rongchan Lin is currently pursuing her Ed.D. degree at Teachers College and specializes in second language assessment. Besides being supported by the Applied Linguistics and TESOL Program, she was also funded by the D.G. Tewksbury Memorial Award and Toepfer Family Scholarship for her participation at the 2nd AALA Conference. She is extremely grateful to the donors for their kindness and generosity.