Development and Validation of a Placement Test for Heritage Language Learners of Spanish
Speaker(s): Beatriz Lado & Evelyn Durán Urrea
Event Type: Discussion Forum / Lecture
Date and Time: Friday, April 6, 2018 at 3:30pm
Location: Healy Hall, 104, 37th and O St., N.W., Washington
The issue of placement is particularly difficult for the heritage languages profession and an area in which there has not been much work, either in the design of new instruments or in the validation of existing instruments. For this reason, solid placement tools are needed. Our study is part of an ongoing investigation conducted at Lehman College of the City University of New York that attempts to address the needs of heritage language (HL) learners of Spanish.
When designing a test for HL learners, it is suggested to be developed in-house due not only to the diversity of Hispanic student populations in the U.S. but also to the unique structure and content of distinct SHL programs (Fairclough et al., 2010; Beaudrie & Ducar, 2012). For that reason, we developed our own HL language placement examination so that it would align with our language program goals and objectives and would take into consideration the Hispanic student population in the Bronx, New York.
A limited amount of research on existing HL exams guided the design and implementation phases of our exam (Fairclough, 2006; Fairclough & Ramírez Vera, 2009; Fairclough et al., 2010; Otheguy & Toro, 2000; Potowski & Parada, 2010; Teschner, 1990). A first version of the exam included a biographic and language background questionnaire (to separate HL from non-HL learners) and 5 subsections (grammar, vocabulary, verbs, dictation, and reading comprehension). Preliminary reliability analyses allowed us to make adjustments that included the addition of a writing section to be combined with the reading. This presentation describes the process taken to develop, computerize, pilot, and validate the test.