Language tests and social policy

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This chapter provides a commentary on the other contributions in the volume by relating them to current dilemmas facing language testers working in policy areas involving immigration and citizenship. It is argued that the overt construct of language tests for citizenship (proficiency in the dominant national language, proposed on the grounds of the welfare of newcomers) is a mask for the implicit construct, which is the imposition of a particular ideology of belonging proposed as being in the interests of the majority culture. The technical qualities of the tests further obscure the contestable policy function of their use and render opposition more difficult. This situation poses dilemmas for the theory and practice of language testing.


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