I am currently a graduate student in an ESL Assessment and Evaluation class and read Brown's (2004) Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices textbook as part of class requirements. This book is written for teachers in the field of second language acquisition (SLA). Specifically, it will benefit instructors in teacher certification and in Master of Arts in TESOL programs. Brown provides fundamental principles for evaluating and designing procedures for classroom based assessments. He delves into the purpose, design, validity and utility of standardized tests and their measurement of a student's language proficiency. He also gives an overview of the pros and cons of these tests, the ethics of testing and the various alternatives available in assessment.
This researcher thoroughly discusses the various developmental tasks that are available when assessing language in key areas such as reading, listening, writing, and speaking. Brown acknowledges possible areas where problems can arise and provides detailed reasoning on why the tasks still work in the classroom setting when assessing the student.
Brown writes from the perspective that assessment is critical for teachers yet should not be frightening. Assessment should be aimed towards providing learning opportunities for both the student and the teacher. The author developed this book after many years of teaching language testing and assessment. Douglas Brown has worked with language teachers in the United States and in an array of countries such as Brazil, Egypt, Japan and Yugoslavia.
Language Assessment: Principles and Classroom Practices is divided into eleven chapters that begin with theoretical data and then move to descriptive examples of key concepts. These examples include classroom techniques and tasks appropriate for a wide range of students (from third grade to adults). In addition, references and summaries for the curious SLA teacher and student are also provided. This textbook could be improved by adding a computer disk or website providing access to the examples mentioned in the book. The artwork used in the textbook is superb and would be a benefit to any classroom teacher. Overall, this textbook should be a standard reference tool for language teachers.