13 August 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Supplied
Prof Albert Weideman
Prof Albert Weideman has designed language tests for South African institutions as well as universities in Namibia, Vietnam, Singapore, the Netherlands, and Australia

Prof Albert Weideman became involved in language testing in the 1980s and almost 40 years later, the South African Association for Language Teaching (SAALT) has now honoured him with a Lifetime Achievement Award for “his contribution to research and practice in applied linguistics, test design, and curriculum development in academic literacy”.

“It’s a wonderful honour to be recognised in one’s field in this way and I am humbled by the many congratulatory messages I have received from as far afield as the Netherlands, the US and Australia,” says Prof Weideman, senior research fellow in the Department of South African Sign Language and Deaf Studies at the University of the Free State (UFS). 

“I wish to dedicate it to the many dozens of MA students I have had, as well as to the many talented PhD students I have supervised,” he said upon receiving the award at the SAALT conference which was held at the University of Pretoria recently. 

Pioneer in the field of language assessment 

“His creative designs have enhanced the quality of academic literacy tests in South Africa,” says Prof Theodorus du Plessis, head of the Department of South African Language and Deaf Studies. The language courses which Prof Weideman has developed have been used at beginner, intermediate and advanced level, as well as for introducing teachers to innovations in language teaching.

During his career Prof Weideman has witnessed an interesting change in the assessment of language: “The focus of language testing has shifted from testing the so-called ‘skills’ of reading, writing, listening and speaking, to measuring communicative ability,” he says. 

He is very excited about the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution on language teaching, specifically when it comes to “computer adaptive language testing, and language-course delivery in a multiplicity of new media.”

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