British Council supports the reform of English teaching and assessment in Asia Pacific

British Council, the global leading expert in English language teaching and assessment, and China’s National Education Examinations Authority (NEEA) jointly hosted the 5th New Directions in English Language Assessment Conference in Shanghai from 2 to 3 December.

The conference explored the interactions between English teaching, learning and assessment to accelerate the progress of English language assessment in the APAC region.

The New Directions in English Language Assessment Conference, hosted by British Council, is an annual event on the APAC language assessment calendar. The conference provided insight into trends in English language assessment and was a showcase for innovative approaches and research in the field, locally and internationally. Launched in 2013, it has been held in BeijingTokyoSeoul and Hanoi, receiving an overwhelmingly positive response within the field. This year, the conference focused on the theme of “Connecting Assessment with Teaching and Learning”, and discussed topics including language proficiency frameworks, foreign language testing for admissions and exit tests in education systems, measuring teachers’ language teaching proficiency, assessment literacy for language teachers, foreign language testing for employability, and artificial intelligence and technology in language testing.

This year, the conference attracted unprecedented attention, with over 500 education and testing practitioners and policymakers attending and over 200 abstracts received from local and international academics and researchers. Of the 60 speakers selected to present at the conference, 30% were from outside mainland China.

As the global leader of English teaching and assessment, British Council has more than 80 years of experience in the field of English language assessment and has expressed its dedication in working with governments and institutions in the field of English teaching and assessment around the globe, cooperating in a wide range of areas, such as English assessment reform, teacher training and the internationalisation of education.

In December 2016China’s Ministry of Education and the British Council signed a memorandum of understanding to carry out linking research between UK exams and China’s Standards of English (CSE). Both parties also agreed on holding a joint conference on English language assessment to accelerate international exchange and cooperation in English language learning, teaching and assessment.

“This conference is one of the fruits of the agreement reached at the Sino-UK high-level people-to-people dialogue in 2016,” said Barry O’Sullivan, head of British Council Assessment Research and Development. “It is an honour to provide academic support to the development of CSE, and to be a partner and practitioner to support English assessment reform initiatives in China. IELTS and Aptis will be the first two tests that have mutual recognition with both CEFR and CSE.”

At the New Directions Conference, British Council and NEEA announced the launch of The Joint Research Grant Scheme (JRGS), which aims to promote the research carried out by international language assessment research experts on the CSE applications and the relationship between CSE and international examinations.

The New Directions Conference has launched a lasting partnership between Asia Pacific countries and Britain in supporting foreign language proficiency testing in Asia Pacific. It has accelerated international exchange and cooperation beyond the region in English language learning, teaching and assessment. The conference will continue to serve as a space in which regional and international policy makers, educational professionals, academics, teachers, and assessment practitioners can interact, exchange information, and keep abreast of the leading developments in the field.

“As international exchanges and cooperation in the APAC region become increasingly frequent, British Council will continue to create opportunities for countries in APAC to communicate and learn from each other in the field of English teaching and assessment, carrying out cooperation in areas including English educational reform, teacher training and the internationalisation of education, connecting assessment with teaching and learning, and accelerating the development of English language assessment in the APAC region,” said Steve Adams, Director Examinations East Asia, British Council.