Gating Walls and Bridging Gaps: Validity in Language Teaching, Learning, and Assessment

Main Article Content

Linda C. Badon
Stephen D. Oller
Ruixia Yan
John W. Oller, Jr.


Theoreticians and practitioners often speak as though classrooms and clinics were located outside the real world, but this is not so. The demand for the teaching, learning, and assessment of English language proficiency for international pilots and air traffic controllers is just one practical example touching almost everyone in the world that shows that contexts of actual language use are invariably in the real world just as learners and teachers are. From actual instances of discourse processing, in some cases with life or death consequences, it follows that judgments of validity, like those of ordinary truth, involve the dynamic interactions of persons, sign systems, and variable content in real contexts. Studies of so-called task-based performance assessment (in various forms and by other names) afford many ways to connect teaching, learning, and assessment. The authenticity, representativeness, and consequent generalizability of teaching, learning, and assessment tasks depends on their incorporation of the sign systems, social actions, and realia found in actual contexts of discourse. While codes, contexts, and interactions must be distinguished in theory, in practice they interact holistically. Our theories need to accommodate and account for the synergistic interactions.

Article Details