Plenary Sessions

English Plenary

Beverly Baker
University of Ottawa

Multilingual competence, language assessment literacy, and social justice:  Tendances dans le domaine d’évaluation de la langue

Language assessment has followed a somewhat distinct disciplinary trajectory compared to other sub-fields of applied linguistics, having originated in the areas of psychological and educational measurement. Indeed, the stereotype of the “language testing specialist” is still of the lone psychometrician, toiling away on test score data. While this is far from a realistic portrayal of the field now, it is the case that the sociocultural turn in other areas of applied linguistics came later to language assessment and in many ways we are still catching up.  One example regards multilingual competence: while the use of students’ complete linguistic repertoire in the classroom is increasingly valued and nurtured, language assessment for the most part still assumes a monolingual worldview. However, I will share very recent research on translanguaging which challenges this compartmentalization of languages for assessment purposes. I will also share recent developments in the area of language assessment literacy (LAL). Nascent models of LAL have potential to re-orient relationships between language assessment specialists and other stakeholders—teachers, language learners, and users of assessment information—by resisting deficit characterisations of these stakeholders and acknowledging the continuing need for LAL development of language assessment specialists themselves.

Beverly Baker is Associate Professor and Director, Language Assessment, at the Official Languages and Bilingualism Institute at the University of Ottawa. She is a founding member of the Canadian Association of Language Assessment, as well as the new Language Assessment Literacy Special Interest Group of the International Language Testing Association. She has published and shared her research widely in both academic and practitioner circles in the areas of language teacher development, language assessment design and validation, and critical approaches to language teaching and assessment. She is currently endeavoring to improve upon her research practice by engaging in collaborative co-research with teachers and policy makers.


French Plenary

Diane Dagenais
Simon Fraser University 

Thinking applied linguistics differently:
Sociomaterial lines of flight

With the emergence of sociomaterial theories, perspectives on language learning and teaching have been expanding these last few years (Budach, 2018; Canagarajah, 2018; Fleming, Waterhouse, Bangou, & Bastien, 2018; Ilieva & Ravindran, 2018; Pennycook, 2018; Toohey, 2018; Toohey et al., 2015; Waterhouse & Arnott, 2016).  These theories have developed in several fields and helped conceptualize how discursive processes and social activities are entangled in the material world and ontologically inseparable from it (Barad, 2007; Braidotti, 2013). Moving away from an analysis focused only on the person and the social, the study of language learning and teaching phenomena inspired by sociomaterial theories attempts to account for the coemergence and assemblage (Deleuze & Guattari, 1987) of human and material processes in educational settings.  In this presentation I will introduce some concepts associated with sociomaterial theories and explain how they differ from earlier conceptualizations of language learning and teaching as well as approaches adopted until now in the field. I will refer to the work of several Canadian researchers who draw on these new perspectives to illustrate how they are contributing to the expansion of applied linguistics by opening new lines of flight to explore.

Diane Dagenais is a Professor at the Faculty of Education of Simon Fraser University where she teaches courses in the French and English programs. Her research is situated in Applied Linguistics and is funded by multiple sources including the Social Sciences and Humanity Research Council. She is particularly interested in language teaching, multilingualism, and in and out of school literacy practices including multimodal and digital literacies. Her most recent research is informed by posthumanism and new materialism. Conducted in collaboration with her co-investigator Geneviève Brisson as well as the doctoral students in Languages, Cultures and Literacies, Magali Forte and Gwénaëlle André, her ongoing study looks at human and non-human dynamics at play in the production of plurilingual stories with the digital tool Scribjab.