Language Testing Past and Present

  • Cyril J. Weir
Part of the Research and Practice in Applied Linguistics book series (RPAL)


Language tests from the distant past to the present are important historical documents. They can help inform us about attitudes to language, language testing and language teaching when little alternative evidence of what went on in the bygone language classroom remains. Seeing where we have come from also helps us better understand where we are today. The Cambridge ESOL Certificate of Proficiency in English (CPE) has by far the longest track record of any serious EFL examination still in existence, so it is a particularly useful vehicle for researching where we have come from in European approaches to language teaching and testing over the last century. We will trace some significant events in its history to exemplify the developments in the field during that period (see Weir 2003 for a full history of the CPE).


Language Proficiency Language Testing Full History English Paper American Preference 
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Further reading

  1. Spolsky (1995) is an impressive, scholarly history of the development of ESOL examinations in the USA and Britain, if somewhat predisposed to the psychometric orientation of the former.Google Scholar
  2. Weir and Milanovic (eds.) (2003) gives a full history of the development over a century of a major international ESOL examination the CPE looked at from a British perspective with its humanistic/sociolinguistic leanings.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Cyril J. Weir 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Cyril J. Weir
    • 1
  1. 1.Centre for Research in Testing, Evaluation and Curriculum (CRTEC)Roehampton UniversityUK

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