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Language testing historians have tended to ignore a significant period in the evolution of language tests, the years 1883-1929. In the earliest years, testing focused on knowledge about, not of, the language and reflected the teaching of Latin and Greek more than that of living languages. Grammatical formalism and translation were emphasized, and standardized testing was in its infancy. While the first World War slowed the pace of educational research, military needs gave impetus to standardization. In the 1920s, the quality of educational research increased. The war and public school enrollments altered the pattern of foreign language study in the United States, motivating more screening and aptitude testing and increased standardization in vocabulary, translation, reading, and listening assessment. A major project in New York involved large-scale testing of secondary school students of French and redesign of a statewide examination. Results indicated significant problems in articulation and consistency of student progress. This and related testing research mark an important turning point in foreign language testing. The project produced 16 standardized foreign language tests of French, German, Spanish, and Italian. During the same period, standardized testing of speech skills was attempted. This era, largely ignored, should be acknowledged for its contributions. (MSE)

Descriptors: Articulation (Education), Educational History, Language Tests, Second Language Instruction, Second Language Learning, Standardized Tests, Statewide Planning, Test Construction, Test Reliability, Test Validity, Testing Problems, Testing Programs

Autor: Barnwell, David Patrick


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