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    Guidelines for task-based university language testing

Guidelines for task-based university language testing

This publication is a ‘hands-on’ manual for those language teachers and testers who are looking for a valid tool to measure their students’ language skills in a meaningful way.
It shows how to link the language skills taught with those needed in studies and later in working life. It also helps language instructors, who already conduct task-based language courses, to design corresponding tests and to evaluate their students’ language performance. It also highlights the benefits of task-based language testing for all the stakeholders.

Who is it for?

  • Decision-makers in university language teaching and testing (e.g., heads of university language centres or language departments)
  • Teachers and testers of languages for specific purposes in higher education
  • Language teacher educators
  • Other stakeholders in university-level language instruction and assessment

Download handbook


Within the framework of the GULT project a structure for a task-based university LSP test at level C1 has been developed. This test or exam structure is based on a macro-task, which then comprises a series of micro-tasks to be carried out by the candidates in order to test their individual skills. The task is based on a problem or a project activity.

This structure is the results of extensive discussions among GULT team members, members of the UNIcert® Committee and colleagues from our institutions, and has strongly been influenced by the CLES model.

Resource documents for test developers

The GULT exam structure has been put into practice in the development of a model UNIcert® exam, which was carried out by members of the UNIcert® Committee and colleagues at the University of Göttingen. The aim of this exam is to put the candidates into a realistic situation where they have to work on one authentic problem taken from the business world while showing their competences in all four language skills.

Model of task-based exam

Sample task-based tests

Assessment grids

Reading recommendation

Task-Based Language Teaching 
by Kris Van den Branden, Martin Bygate and John M. Norris

Over the past two decades, task-based language teaching (TBLT) has gained considerable momentum in the field of language education. This volume presents a collection of 20 reprinted articles and chapters representative of work appeared during that period. It introduces readers - graduate students, researchers, teachers - to foundational ideas and themes that have marked the emergence of TBLT.


  • Bachman, L. (2002). “Some Reflections on Task-Based Language Performance Assessment”. In: Language Testing 19(4), 453-476.
  • Bachman, L. (2007). “What is the Construct? The Dialectic of Abilities and Contexts in Defining Constructs in Language Assessment”. In: Fox, J., Wesche, M., Bayliss, D., Cheng, L., Turner, C.E. and Doe, C. (eds). Language Testing Reconsidered. Ottawa: University of Ottawa Press, 41-71.
  • Bourguignon, C., Delahaye, P. and Puren, C. (2007). Évaluer dans une perspective actionnelle: L’exemple du « Diplôme de Compétence en Langue » [available from C. Bourguignon].
  • Brown, J. D., Hudson, T., Norris, J. and Bonk, W.J. (2002). An Investigation of Second Language Task-Based Performance Assessments. Technical report No. 24, Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
  • Chalhoub-Deville, M. (2001). “Task based assessments: Characteristics and validity evidence”. In: Bygate, M., Skehan, P. and Swain M. (eds). Researching Pedagogic Tasks: Second Language Learning, Teaching and Testing. Harlow: Longman.
  • Elder, C. and Brown, A. (1997). “Performance testing for the professions: Language proficiency or strategic competence?”. In: Melbourne Papers in Language Testing 6(1), 68-78.
  • Ellis, R. (2003). Task Based Language Learning and Teaching. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Finch, A. (2002). “Authentic Assessment: Implications for EFL Performance Testing in Korea”. In: Secondary Education Research 49, 89-122. Available at: http://www.finchpark.com/arts/Authentic_Assessment_Implications.pdf
  • Foster, P. and Skehan, P. (1999). “The influence of source of planning and focus of planning on task-based performance”. In: Language Teaching Research 3, 299-324.
  • Mislevy, R. J., Steinberg, L. S. and Almond, R. G. (2002). “Design and analysis in taskbased language assessment”. In: Language Testing 19(4), 477-496.
  • Norris, J. (2002). “Interpretations, Intended Uses and Designs in Task-Based Language Assessment”. In: Language Testing 19 (4), 337-346.
  • Petermann, A. (2008). “CLES – Certificat de Compétences en langues de l’enseignement supérieur. Zertifizierung der Sprachkompetenzen im französischen Hochschulbereich”. In: Fremdsprachen und Hochschule 79/80, 33-54.
  • Standring, A. (2009). “Language Assessment”. In: Fischer, J., Musacchio, M. T. and Standring, A. (eds). EXPLICS – Exploiting Internet Case Studies and Simulation Templates for Language Teaching and Learning. A Handbook. Göttingen: Cuvillier Verlag, 45-65.
  • Wigglesworth, G. (2001). “Influences on performance in task-based oral assessments”. In: Bygate, M., Skehan, P. and Swain, M. (eds). Researching Pedagogic Tasks: Second Language Learning, Teaching and Testing. Harlow: Longman, 186-209.
  • Wigglesworth, G. (2008). “Task and Performance Based Assessment”. In: Shohamy, E. and Hornberger, N. H. (eds). Encyclopedia of Language and Education, 2nd Edition, Volume 7: Language Testing and Assessment. 111-122.
  • Wu, W. and Stansfield, C. (2001). “Toward authenticity of task in test development”. In: Language Testing 18(2), 187-206.

Project team

Johann Fischer (Coordinator)
Universität Göttingen
Catherine Chouissa
Ministère de l' Education Nationale
Stefania Dugovičová
Comenius University Bratislava,
Natural Science Faculty
Anu Virkkunen-Fullenwider
University of Helsinki Language Centre



These are the results from a project of the European Centre for Modern Languages within its "Empowering Language Professionals" programme 2008-2011.

Read more about the project