Key Takeaways From the BridgeUniverse English Language Testing SummitBy Rashmi Chugani
May 20, 2022
BridgeUniverse successfully hosted its second Summit with the participation of various leaders in the English Language Testing field. The Virtual Summit on English Language Testing: High Stakes for Learners & Teachers took place from April 26-28, 2022 and analyzed different kinds of English assessments with the participation of test providers such as Pearson, Trinity College London, ETS® TOEFL®, Duolingo, and Bright Language. Read on to find out more about the main takeaways from the various sessions.
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A preview of key Summit sessions
This free, three-day online Summit had over 1,600 registered participants who came from 125 countries, led by the United States, South Africa, and India. Backgrounds were also varied, as attendees worked for universities, private language schools, public K-12 schools, and edtech companies, and also as freelance online teachers.
The Summit schedule included over a dozen sessions that covered topics ranging from “Industry-Specific Language Evaluation” to “Adapting to Online English Exams.”
Check out a preview of the exclusive Summit session on “Practical Tips and Activities for Teaching Test Prep”:
Duolingo highlights new online testing tool
Duolingo, one of the Summit sponsors, gave a session titled “The Future of Testing, Here Today.” The focus was on its Duolingo English Test, which is an online exam that takes place over the course of an hour and is reviewed by artificial intelligence and remote human proctors.
“We developed the DET to be a tool for university-level admission [but] because of the adaptive nature of the test it can measure all levels of English,” explained Caroline Fisher, who works on the Duolingo Test Taker Relations team.
One of the key factors Fisher discussed was the ongoing skepticism from certain communities and institutions towards tests that are 100% online. However, she mentioned that the convenience and affordability factors for students have ensured that the DET keeps getting more popular.
Industry experts discuss how exam prep teachers can teach beyond the test
Another Summit discussion dove into how to avoid the trap of teaching to the test, in a session titled “Teaching for Success, Not Just the Test: Considerations for Teaching Test Prep.” Participants included Misty Wilson, who currently serves as Head of Teaching for Immerse, which offers virtual reality language learning software, and Dan Lesho, President of the English Language Testing Society.
These industry leaders discussed how the number of available tests from different companies has increased over the years, and how student needs don’t always align with the tasks on tests and learning outcomes.
“As the tests improved over the years, that alignment is much better,” reflected Lesho.
Pearson offers insight into the Global Scale of English (GSE)
One of the Summit highlights came from Pearson, another sponsor. Mike Mayor, the Director of English Learning Research & Design at Pearson, presented a session on the “Global Scale of English: The Ultimate Compass for Every Learner Journey.” The Global Scale of English (GSE) is Pearson’s own product, and it was developed to address some of the limitations of the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR), one of the most commonly used benchmark scales.
Whether teachers are focused on Business English, young learners, or higher academics, the GSE toolkit is there to assist in the practical application of goal setting, lesson planning, and syllabus design.
“It’s people who are experts in their particular domain of English that have taken part in our product research,” commented Mayor.
Pearson also sponsored a session entitled “PTE Academic: The Fast, Reliable, and Convenient Testing Solution.” Additional content from other sponsors included a session on “Assessment Literacy: What’s at Stake When We Are Not Assessment Literate?” from Trinity College London. And, testing giant ETS sponsored the discussion on “Why Two High-Stakes Tests are Better than One: TOEFL iBT & TOEFL Essentials Tests.”
Finally, Bright Language Tests sponsored a session on “Designing Flexible, Objective, and Globally Recognized Language Assessments.” Here’s a sneak peek:
Participants were satisfied with the content and the speakers at the Summit. As one surveyed audience member summarized, “In this digital era, keeping up with digital learning is a must. The summit enhanced the skills and knowledge we have to have in digital literacy. Tech literature is what every teacher in all corners of the globe should know, and I am truly blessed to be part of the Summit.”
Another participant commented on the online nature of the event. They remarked, “Being able to join the sessions online is another invaluable tool for everyone who is not based in the host’s country. I would have never had a chance to attend in person.”
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Future BridgeUniverse Summits
The BridgeUniverse Summits were conceived after Bridge’s Expert and Global ELT News series of webinars were so well-received by its global audience of English language teachers and industry insiders.
“We realized the size of our global audience would support an online summit and that there was the interest and demand,” explains Ian Wright, Director of BridgeUniverse.
Bridge plans to continue hosting webinars and Summits in the coming months to offer networking and professional development opportunities for the global community of online and in-person English language teachers and industry leaders. Stay tuned for the next BridgeUniverse Virtual Summit!