Volume 1, Issue 2
  • ISSN 2666-8882
  • E-ISSN: 2666-8890
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



In Flemish higher education, lecturers teaching in a language other than their mother tongue need official proof of their C1 level in that language. As a result, Flemish universities developed the ITACE (Interuniversity Test of Academic English), a domain-specific and purpose-built language test linked to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR) and validated by an independent audit commission. Yet, the introduction of a mandatory language test was heavily contested in Flemish academia and in the media. In addition, the ITACE was perceived as a political tool of the government to enforce its language policy. Almost ten years after its introduction, the ITACE now appears to be widely accepted. The introduction of the test revealed that initial scepticism can be overcome through development, proper contextualization, and use of a high-quality, target-specific instrument. The article discusses the context in which the test was created, the construction of the test (addressing issues of reliability and validity), and the implications of the test, including its pedagogical and societal relevance.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alderson, J. C., Clapham, C., & Wall, D.
    (2005) Language test construction and validation. Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  2. ALTE
    ALTE (2011) Manual for language test development and examining for use with the CEFR. Council of Europe. https://www.alte.org/resources/Documents/ManualLanguageTest-Alte2011_EN.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  3. ALTE
    ALTE (2012) Constitution for the Association of Language Testers in Europe.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. ALTE [Google Scholar]
  5. Bachman, L. F., & Palmer, A. S.
    (1996) Language testing in practice. Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Barakos, E., & Unger, J. W.
    (Eds.) (2016) Discursive approaches to language policy. Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/978‑1‑137‑53134‑6
    https://doi.org/10.1057/978-1-137-53134-6 [Google Scholar]
  7. Bonacina-Pugh, F., Barakos, E., & Chen, Q.
    (2020) Language policy in the internationalisation of higher education in Anglophone countries: The interplay between language policy as “text”, “discourse” and “practice”. Applied Linguistics Review. 10.1515/applirev‑2019‑0148
    https://doi.org/10.1515/applirev-2019-0148 [Google Scholar]
  8. Colpaert, J.
    (2014, November10). De taaltest voor proffen is zelf gebuisd. De Standaard. https://www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20141119_01385144
    [Google Scholar]
  9. Council of Europe
    Council of Europe (2001) Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  10. Council of Europe
    Council of Europe (2018) Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching, assessment. www.coe.int/lang-cefr
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Davies, M.
    (2008) The Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA): One billion words. https://www.englishcorpora.org/coca/
    [Google Scholar]
  12. de Jong, J.
    (2021, October6). Designing curricula for language education based on CEFR [Conference presentation]. CIENCIA2021, Havana, Cuba.
    [Google Scholar]
  13. De Moor, T., & Mous, L.
    (2021) Teaching through English: The didactics and language of English-medium instruction in practice. Academia Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  14. Deygers, B.
    (2017) Just testing: Applying theories of justice to high-stakes language tests. International Journal of Applied Linguistics, 168(2), 143–163. 10.1075/itl.00001.dey
    https://doi.org/10.1075/itl.00001.dey [Google Scholar]
  15. Dimova, S., Yan, X., & Ginther, A.
    (2020) Local language testing: Design, implementation, and development. Routledge. 10.4324/9780429492242
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780429492242 [Google Scholar]
  16. Fahim, M., & Bijani, H.
    (2011) The effects of rater training on raters’ severity and bias in second language writing assessment. Iranian Journal of Language Testing, 1(1), 1–16.
    [Google Scholar]
  17. Gu, L., & So, Y.
    (2015) Voices from stakeholders: What makes an academic English test “international”?Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 18, 9–24. 10.1016/j.jeap.2014.10.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jeap.2014.10.002 [Google Scholar]
  18. Hamp-Lyons, L.
    (1998) Ethics in language testing. InC. M. Clapham, & D. Corson (Eds.), Language testing and assessment (Vol.7). Kluwer.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Harding, L. & McNamara, T. F.
    (2018) Language assessment: The challenge of ELF. InJ. Jenkins, M. J. Dewey, & W. Baker (Eds.), Routledge handbook of English as a lingua franca. Routledge. 10.4324/9781315717173
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315717173 [Google Scholar]
  20. Hultgren, A. K., Gregersen, F., & Thøgersen, J.
    (2014) English in Nordic universities: Ideologies and practices. John Benjamins. 10.1075/wlp.5.01hul
    https://doi.org/10.1075/wlp.5.01hul [Google Scholar]
  21. Kaftandjieva, F.
    (2010) Methods for setting cut scores in criterion-referenced achievement tests. A comparative analysis of six recent methods with an application to tests of reading in EFL. CITO.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Klaassen, R., & Bos, M.
    (2010) English language screening for scientific staff at Delft University of Technology. Hermes Journal of Language and Communication in Business, 45(1), 61–70. 10.7146/hjlcb.v23i45.97347
    https://doi.org/10.7146/hjlcb.v23i45.97347 [Google Scholar]
  23. Kling, J., & Stæhr, L. S.
    (2013) The development of the Test of Oral English Proficiency for Academic Staff (TOEPAS). University of Copenhagen. https://cip.ku.dk/forskning/cip_publikationer/CIP_TOPEPAS_Technical_Report.pdf/
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Koffler, S. L.
    (1980) A comparison of approaches for setting proficiency standards. Journal of Educational Measurement, 17(3), 167–178. www.jstor.org/stable/1434832. 10.1111/j.1745‑3984.1980.tb00824.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1745-3984.1980.tb00824.x [Google Scholar]
  25. Kuijper, H., Brinkhuis, M. & van Hofwegen, L.
    (2010) De koppeling van de Staatsexamens Nederlands als Tweede Taal Lezen en Luisteren aan het Europees Referentiekader voor Talen. Fase 2: Standaardisatie en bepaling van grensscores. [Linking the state exams for Dutch as a second language reading and listening to the European Framework of Reference for Languages. Phase 2: Standardization and determination of cut-off scores]. CITO.
    [Google Scholar]
  26. Laufer, B., & Geke, C.
    (2010) Lexical threshold revisited: Lexical text coverage, learners’ vocabulary size and reading comprehension. Reading in a Foreign Language, 22(1), 15–30.
    [Google Scholar]
  27. North, B., Ortega, A. & Sheehan, S.
    (2010) A core inventory for General English. British Council.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. O’Sullivan, B., & Weir, C.
    (2011) The test development & validation. InB. O’Sullivan (Ed.), Language testing: Theory & practice (pp.13–32). Palgrave.
    [Google Scholar]
  29. Schmitt, N., & Schmitt, D.
    (2012) A reassessment of frequency and vocabulary size in L2 vocabulary teaching. Language Teaching, 47(4), 484–503. 10.1017/S0261444812000018
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444812000018 [Google Scholar]
  30. Shaw, S., & Weir, C. J.
    (2007) Examining writing: Research and practice in assessing second language writing. Cambridge University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. Shohamy, E.
    (2001) The power of tests: A critical perspective on the uses of language tests. Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Spolsky, B.
    (2012) Language testing and language management. InG. Fulcher, & F. Davidson (Eds.), The Routledge handbook of language testing (pp. 495–505). Routledge. 10.4324/9780203181287
    https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203181287 [Google Scholar]
  33. Taaltest Engels blijft sommige professoren parten spelen [English language test continues to play tricks on some professors] (2015, February21). De Standaard. www.standaard.be/cnt/dmf20150220_01540974
    [Google Scholar]
  34. van Splunder, F.
    (2021) Higher education in Flanders: English as the “other” language. InR. Gabriëls & R. Wilkinson (Eds.), Englishization of European higher education (pp. 37–56). Amsterdam University Press. 10.2307/j.ctv21ptzkn.5
    https://doi.org/10.2307/j.ctv21ptzkn.5 [Google Scholar]
  35. Vlaamse Codex [Flemish Legal Code] (2012, 13July). Decreet betreffende de integratie van de academische hogeschoolopleidingen in de universiteiten. [Decree concerning the integration of academic higher education courses in the universities] https://codex.vlaanderen.be/Portals/Codex/documenten/1022449.html
    [Google Scholar]
  36. Wächter, B.
    (2014, December4). The European map of English-taught programmes in 2014: Results of a new ACA study [Conference presentation]. ACA, Brussels.
    [Google Scholar]
  37. Weir, C. J.
    (2005) Language testing and validation: An evidence-based approach. Palgrave Macmillan. 10.1057/9780230514577
    https://doi.org/10.1057/9780230514577 [Google Scholar]
  38. Wilkinson, R., & Gabriëls, R.
    (2021) Englishization of Dutch higher education. Divergent language policies and practices. InR. Gabriëls & R. Wilkinson (Eds.), Englishization of European eigher education (pp. 237–257). Amsterdam University Press. 10.1515/9789048553914‑013
    https://doi.org/10.1515/9789048553914-013 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): CEFR; English-medium instruction; Flanders; higher education; ITACE; language policy
This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error