Language Assessment Literacy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region


  • Peter Davidson Zayed University
  • Christine Coombe Dubai Men's College


language, assessment


Language assessment literacy (LAL) has become a critical topic in English language teaching since the late 1990s. Unfortunately, this is mainly due to the fact that so many English language teachers are not assessment literate. In other words, many English language teachers lack the knowledge and skills to write effective language tests, evaluate the effectiveness of their tests, and use their test results in meaningful ways. The purpose of this paper is to critically examine the status of LAL in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. After defining what LAL is, we will discuss why it is important that teachers are assessment literate, and we will examine some of the barriers to teachers becoming assessment literate. We will then propose a course of action to improve LAL amongst teachers, such as devising an Assessment Competency Framework, and helping teachers to become more assessment literate. We will then move on to look at the state of LAL in the MENA region, and finally we will report on a number of initiatives that the Testing, Assessment and Evaluation Special Interest Group (TAE SIG) of TESOL Arabia has implemented to improve LAL amongst English language teachers in the region.

Author Biographies

Peter Davidson, Zayed University

Peter Davidson currently teaches at Zayed University in Dubai, having previously taught in New Zealand, Japan, the UK and Turkey. He has given over 100 conference presentations, and he has also conducted assessment literacy training with teachers in 15 different countries in Europe, South East and Central Asia, the Middle East, South America and North Africa. Peter has co-edited a number of books on testing and evaluation including: Language Assessment in the Middle East and North Africa (2017TESOL Arabia); The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Assessment (2012, Cambridge University Press); The Fundamentals of Language Assessment (2009, TESOL Arabia); and Evaluating Teaching Effectiveness in ESL/EFL Contexts (2007, University of Michigan Press)Peter was recently made a Fellow of the Higher Education Academy (UK).

Christine Coombe, Dubai Men's College

Christine Coombe has a Ph.D in Foreign/Second Language Education from The Ohio State University.  She is currently an Associate Professor of General Studies at Dubai Men's College.  She is the former Testing and Measurements Supervisor at UAE University and Assessment Coordinator of Zayed University. Christine is co-editor of The Cambridge Guide to Second Language Assessment (2012, Cambridge University Press), The Cambridge Guide to Research in Language Teaching and Learning (Cambridge University Press, 2015), and Volume 8 of the TESOL Encyclopedia of ELT (Wiley Blackwell, 2018). Christine received the British Council’s International Assessment Award for 2013.  Her most recent honor was being named to TESOL’s 50@50 which “recognizes professionals who have made significant contributions to the TESOL profession within the past 50 years.” Dr Coombe is also the 2018 recipient of the James E. Alatis Award which recognizes exemplary service to TESOL. 





How to Cite

Davidson, P., & Coombe, C. (2019). Language Assessment Literacy in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region. Arab Journal of Applied Linguistics, 4(2), 1–23. Retrieved from

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