Assessing HLLs: The How

How can I implement assessment practices with heritage language learners?

Many considerations go into selecting and advocating for a test, including the four basic principles of assessment – validity, reliability, practicality, and impact – but also the availability of and access to appropriate or language-specific tests.

These considerations are particularly important for teachers of heritage language learners, as assessments are rarely developed for this population, and developing or modifying assessments takes considerable time, resources, and training. 

In the following sections, we will discuss three different approaches to testing for heritage language learners:

  • Selecting existing or off-the-shelf assessments
  • Modifying or adapting existing assessments
  • Developing your own assessments

In choosing an approach, it’s best to ground your decision in a comprehensive and thoughtful understanding of your and your students’ assessment needs. The next section introduces a downloadable Needs Assessment worksheet, which you can fill out and refer back to while learning about the different approaches.