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Language Tests in the Arabic-speaking World: Between Ideology and Language Policy

Cristina Solimando


A system of language assessment may be used as a mechanism for affecting language policy. Language tests convey messages and ideologies that regard prestige, priorities and hierarchies, and they generally lead to the suppression of diversity (Shohamy 2007). The relationship between tests and language policy, based mainly on the criteria used for judging language quality through rating scales, guidelines and other frameworks, leads to a view of language as standardized and homogenous. From this perspective, language tests can serve as tools that negotiate and mediate between ideology and practice. In the Arabic-speaking world language tests have only recently been introduced, although very few Arab countries have shown an interest in developing the necessary means to evaluate language performance levels. In this paper the language tests developed by the Arab Academy, the UAE National Center for Assessment (Markaz al-Waṭanī li-l-Qiyās), the Mother Tongue Center (Markaz al-Lisān al-Umm), the Jordan al-Naǧāḥ National University (Ǧāmiʿat al-Naǧāḥ al-Waṭaniyya) and the King Saʿūd University will be taken into consideration in order to determine any ideological orientation in test objectives, content and rationale. Particular attention will be paid to communicative skills within a general framework of linguistic variation in the Arabic-speaking world.


Arabic language policy; language assessment; language test; linguistic identity; teaching Arabic.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2021-002-soli

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