Cambridge Michigan Language Assessments

Shaping English Language Assessments
with Research + Experience

An Intern’s Words: Laura Ballard
October 7, 2016
Categories: Internships

CaMLA’s internship program provides professional training and research opportunities for English language teaching and assessment professionals and graduate students. In 2016, CaMLA had two interns in the office. The following is from Laura Ballard, one of our 2016 interns.

Laura Ballard

Laura Ballard, one of CaMLA’s interns in 2016.

Laura Ballard received her MA in TESOL from MSU and her BA in Spanish and International Studies from the University of Michigan. She taught English as a foreign language in Niger and China with the Peace Corps. Recently, she interned at the Center for Applied Linguistics with the WIDA ASSETS Rater Training team and at CaMLA developing technical manuals for their international assessments. She currently works at the MSU English Language Center as a test developer, special programs assistant, and writing consultant.

Through my graduate work in the Second Language Studies program at Michigan State, I’ve had the chance to develop my theoretical understanding of teaching and assessment and work on a number of research projects related to language testing. However, I was interested in getting practical, hands-on experience in the language assessment field in order to better understand the assessment-development process and see firsthand how large-scale assessments are dreamed up, drafted, and finalized for use across the world. This is why I was drawn to the CaMLA internship program.

During my time as an intern, I worked primarily on an independent project: revising and creating technical manuals for CaMLA’s four international English language assessments. Though I worked independently, I was mentored by a handful of CaMLA staff to get the skills and information I needed to develop and finalize the manuals. This project required me to dig deep into the language testing literature, to understand the nuance in each decision made in developing these assessments, and use my writing skills to make the information accessible to future test developers.

In addition to being handed a large project, I appreciated CaMLA’s internship training program, which included informational sessions with subcommittees within each department. Through these sessions, I had the opportunity to learn the details behind the inner workings of the organization and better understand the massive amount of time, energy, creativity, communication, and organization that goes into making and administering a single form of an assessment.

Not only did I get the hands-on experience I was looking for, I was also able to make great connections in the testing field and spend a summer in Ann Arbor. There isn’t a more valuable way I could have spent my summer.

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