Revisiting the Role of Content in Language Assessment Constructs

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


In 1990, Bachman first introduced his model of communicative language use, which focused not just on an individual’s communicative language ability,which he defined as language competence plus strategic competence, but also psychophysiological mechanisms, the language use context, and the language user’s knowledge structures. In this paper, I first review Bachman’s model, specifically his conceptualization of the role of content (or knowledge structures) in language use and in construct definitions. I then examine how his conceptualizations have been taken up and built on in the language assessment practices of three key contexts in which content and language intersect: Language for specific purposes, U.S. K-12 English learner education, and content and language integrated learning. For each context, I highlight examples of the latest conceptualizations of the role content plays in their assessment constructs. I conclude by arguing that, if we are to develop language assessments that yield meaningful interpretations about test takers’ ability to use language in specific target language use domains, future research must focus on the role of content in language assessment constructs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationAnother Generation of Fundamental Considerations in Language Assessment
Subtitle of host publicationA Festschrift in Honor of Lyle F. Bachman
PublisherSpringer Singapore
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9789811589522
ISBN (Print)9789811589515
StatePublished - Jan 1 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Social Sciences


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