Laying the groundwork for the DELV (Precursor literature, dissertations, joint work of the Working Groups prior to the conceptualization of the DELV)

Publication Date



Published in: Unbiased Language Assessment: Contributions of Linguistic Theory Jill G. de Villiers Annual Review of Linguistics 2017 3:1, 309-330


This review addresses several situations of language learning to make concrete the issue of fairness—and justice—that arises in designing assessments. First, I discuss the implications of dialect variation in American English, asking how assessment has taken dialect into consideration. Second, I address the question of how to assess the distributed knowledge of bilingual or dual-language learners. The evaluation of the language skills of children growing up in poverty asks whether the current focus on the quantity of caregiver input is misplaced. Third, I address a special case in which the young speakers of a minority language, Romani, are judged to be unfit for schooling because they fail tests in the state language. Finally, I examine the difficult issue of language assessments in countries with multiple official languages and few resources. In each of these areas, the involvement and expertise of linguists are essential for knowing how the grammar works and what might be important to assess.

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Annual Review of Linguistics










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