Authenticity in Second Language Assessment: A Social-Constructivist Perspective

Parviz Birjandi, Hossein Ahmadi


Abstract - The definition of the term ‘authenticity’ as applied to second language instruction and assessment has been a subject of great debate for over three decades. The inception of authenticity in applied linguistics can be dated back to the emergence of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT) in the 1970s. The present paper provides a brief review of various aspects of authenticity and mainly focuses on a discussion of a social-constructivist approach to authenticity in second language assessment. Within the field of social constructivism, there is a great emphasis laid upon the importance of social context. The paper argues that authenticity in second language assessment defined in terms of the interaction between the test taker and the input is a socially constructed product influenced by such factors as test tasks, test constructors, test administrators, test takers, as well as contexts. Moreover, authenticity is treated as an ongoing unstable process rather than a fixed product.


Keywords - Authenticity; Assessment; Language; Constructivism

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