Professor Tim McNamara and Dutch colleagues awarded for best article

Tim McNamara, Carolien Van Den Hazelkamp and Maaike Verrips have just won the best article award 2016 awarded by the International Languages Testing Association for their article "LADO as a Language Test: Issues of Validity," Applied Linguistics, 37(2). This article is about the work Tim did on language analysis for the determination of origin of asylum seekers (LADO), applying concepts from validation in language testing to understand threats to the meaningfulness of the conclusions about individual asylum seekers in the LADO process. ILTA’s commendation reads as follows:

"The article proposes an agenda for research on a controversial language procedure widely used in the processing of asylum applications, known by its acronym LADO (language analysis for the determination of origin of asylum seekers). The authors propose that it is useful to consider LADO as a kind of language test. The advantage of doing so, they argue, is that it allows for the systematic examination of the threats to the validity of the conclusions reached about individuals on the basis of the evidence of origin yielded in LADO, and the highly consequential decisions that may result.

"The article represents, on a wider level, a continuation of the first authors' previous (award-winning) work to further encourage the recent embrace of a more sociocultural orientation to our field. It historically situates the field of language testing and makes a convincing case for continuing its move beyond its original psychometric/cognitive orientation.

"The article includes a very convincing argument that, as validation can be considered as “the systematic interrogation of interpretations yielded by assessments," Kane's (2001) steps in validation can be usefully applied to the process of validating decisions made on language proficiency in the asylum process.

"Written in an engaging prose style that draws in the reader, this contribution makes a very compelling case for the importance of extending our mandate as language testers to include areas previously not considered as directly related to language testing. As well as being of direct interest to language testers, it is accessible well beyond our discipline to anyone concerned with the role of language in either facilitating or restricting movement among nations, for humanitarian grounds or otherwise. For the potential of this article to alter the way we see the social impact of our field, the Committee is delighted to declare it the winner of the ILTA Best Article Award for 2016."

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Tim McNamara

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