Developing Assessments

How can I approach developing heritage language learner assessments? 

If existing assessments are not appropriate or cannot be modified for your HLLs, you may want to consider developing your own assessments to meet your needs. 

If you decide to develop your own assessment tasks and activities, here are some questions that you should consider:

  • Does the assessment allow students to demonstrate what they can do with the language?
  • Will the assessment provide me with the information I need about student performance?
  • Is the assessment appropriate for students’ grade, developmental, and proficiency level?
  • Does the assessment provide real-world situations and experiences for using the language?
  • Do I have the resources I need to effectively administer and score the assessment?

Performance-based assessment tasks are a good example of low-stakes assessment that can be individualized and personalized to best meet the needs of heritage language learners.

These types of tasks:

  1. Require students to use language in contextualized, real-life situations
  2. Create an opportunity for students to demonstrate actual communication use and are appropriate for the level of students being assessed
  3. Are based on authentic needs and communication goals, rather than a passive understanding of the language

This is especially relevant for HLLs, whose language use may already be authentically situated in real-life contexts with family or community. Some examples of performance-based assessment tasks might include:

  • Working through a problem scenario or debate in small groups
  • Role playing a conversation about a personal situation
  • Emailing a relative or friend