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 14. Assessing Language Ability in Young Adults and Adults


Course Description

The course explores why language assessment is important and considers how teachers can assess language skills on an ongoing basis. 

Course participants learn how to design, construct, score, and evaluate different language measures, including listening, speaking, reading comprehension and written expression. The course also addresses test-taking strategies, as well as the importance of interpreting and reporting scores responsibly. 

Also, students who successfully complete this course will receive a TESOL Certificate of Completion.

Instructor: Andrew D. Cohen

Andrew D. Cohen was a Peace Corps Volunteer in rural development with the Aymara Indians on the High Plains of Bolivia (1965-67). He taught in the ESL Section at the University of California at Los Angeles and was a professor of language education for 17 years at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Since 1991, he has been teaching applied linguistics at the University of Minnesota, where he is currently Chair of the MA in ESL Program and Director of Studies for the Undergraduate ESL Minor. 

He was awarded Scholar of the College in the College of Liberal Arts from 2002 to 2005 at University of Minnesota. He has published numerous research articles on language teaching, learning, and assessment, and on research methods, as well as books on language assessment, bilingual education, language learner strategies, and research methods.


Internet access, e-mail, the Microsoft Internet Explorer or Mozilla Firefox Web browser, and the Adobe Flash and PDF plug-ins (two free and simple downloads you obtain at by clicking Get Adobe Flash Player and Get Adobe Reader).


A new section of each course starts monthly. If enrolling in a series of two or more courses, please be sure to space the start date for each course at least two months apart.

All courses run for six weeks, with a two-week grace period at the end. Two lessons are released each week for the six-week duration of the course. You do not have to be present when lessons are released. You will have access to all lessons until the course ends. However, the interactive discussion area that accompanies each lesson will automatically close two weeks after the lesson is released. As such, we strongly recommend that you complete each lesson within two weeks of its release.

The final exam will be released on the same day as the last lesson. Once the final exam has been released, you will have two weeks to complete all of your course work, including the final exam.     


Week 1

Wednesday – Lesson 01
An Introduction to Assessing the Language of Adults

Friday – Lesson 02
The Nature of Assessment Measures and the Role of Respondents’ Characteristics

Week 2

Wednesday – Lesson 03
Scoring Assessment Measures

Friday – Lesson 04
Evaluating Language Assessment Measures

Week 3 

Wednesday – Lesson 05
The Role of Test-Taking Strategies in Validating Language Measures

Friday – Lesson 06
Assessment Formats: Test-Taking Strategies, Instructions, and Practice

Week 4

Wednesday – Lesson 07
Preparing an Assessment Measure

Friday – Lesson 08
Assessing Reading Comprehension

Week 5

Wednesday – Lesson 09
Assessing Listening

Friday – Lesson 10
Assessing Speaking

Week 6

Wednesday – Lesson 11
Assessing Written Expression

Friday – Lesson 12
Performance Assessment, Computer-Assisted Language Assessment, and Critical Language Assessment

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