Communicative testing in foreign language education

Foreign language teachers in secondary schools aim to increase their focus on the communicative side of language education. Existing language tests do not necessarily connect to learning objectives. How can we offer testing in which communication is key? What are the consequences for teaching styles?


We conduct research on what an assessment program that is focused on communicative language skills should look like, and what is necessary in order to implement such a program in secondary foreign language education. Hereby we aim to fit the program into foreign language education in which communication takes an increasingly important role.

Field Study

During the first stage of this project, a field study on didactics and testing in foreign language education was conducted. Approximately 130 teachers filled out a survey on these topics. Consequently the degree to which the coherence between learning objectives, didactics and testing was researched by interviewing teachers in ten different language departments, analysing tests, observing classes, and interviewing students. The results of this study show a deficiency in coherence between these three elements. The learning objectives are communicative; the tests and learning activities, however, not (sufficiently) communicative. 


This research is ongoing. Once completed, the research results will be summarised here. In addition, the results will be made publicly available by means of a dissertation, presentations at conferences, and seminars for teachers.  


01 September 2018 - 31 August 2022


The second stage of the project, the design phase, has now started. A professional learning community has been created, consisting of 21 foreign language teachers from 15 different schools. They have reflected on the issue: “Fewer but better tests: how do you do that?” Based on both theory and experience from their teaching practice, they have co-created a proposed communicative and formative program of assessment for lower form secondary education. The involved teachers are momentarily testing the developed material in practice. After evaluation and adjustments, the improved version of the material will be implemented in at least 10 new schools during the second cycle of the project this school year (2020-2021). Until now, both experiences of both teachers and students have been positive.

HU researchers involved in the research

Related research groups

Collaboration with knowledge partners