A university post-entry English language assessment: Charting the changes


  • John Read
  • Janet von Randow
DOI: https://doi.org/10.6018/ijes.13.2.185931
Keywords: academic literacy, post-entry language assessment (PELA), diagnostic assessment, student evaluation, language enrichment


The increasingly diverse language backgrounds of their students are creating new challenges for English- medium universities. One response in Australian and New Zealand institutions has been to introduce post-entry language assessment (PELA) to identify incoming students who need to enhance their academic language ability. One successful example of this type of programme is the Diagnostic English Language Needs Assessment (DELNA) at the University of Auckland, which has been implemented across the university since 2002. This paper discusses the reasons for introducing the assessment and outlines its current operation. As part of the validation process feedback is obtained from academic staff, and from students who have completed the assessment and been advised about their opportunities for enriching their academic literacy. The focus of this paper is on the ways the feedback has led to changes both in the composition and administration of the assessment and the delivery of effective English language programmes.


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Author Biographies

John Read

John Read is an associate professor in the Department of Applied Language Studies and Linguistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. He has taught applied linguistics, TESOL and English for academic purposes at tertiary institutions in New Zealand, Singapore and the United States. His primary research interests are in second language vocabulary assessment and the testing of English for academic and professional purposes. He is the author of Assessing Vocabulary (Cambridge, 2000) and was co-editor of Language Testing from 2002 to 2006. In 2011-12 he was President of the International Language Testing Association.

Janet von Randow

Janet von Randow has been the Manager of DELNA since it was introduced at the University of Auckland in 2002. In 2001, prior to that appointment, Janet, who had been a language teacher for many years, was appointed to a position in teacher training in the School of Education at the University. Over the 12 years of DELNA she has presented DELNA- related research at many national and international conferences. Her research interests include diagnostic language assessment, the first-year experience and second language acquisition.
How to Cite
Read, J., & von Randow, J. (2013). A university post-entry English language assessment: Charting the changes. International Journal of English Studies, 13(2), 89–110. https://doi.org/10.6018/ijes.13.2.185931