If your university is thinking about introducing a PELA, this checklist identifies some basic questions you should ask before you make any plans.
An institution-wide PELA can have disadvantages. For example, it will not help develop student English language proficiency unless it is linked to some form of language development opportunity, it can consume considerable resources, and it could potentially stigmatise certain student groups and reinforce a ‘deficit’ approach to student English use.
On the other hand, a PELA has the potential to identify areas of need at an early stage of a student's academic career and can help to effectively target available resources and raise awareness of the importance of language development. The most important consideration is that the content of the PELA should have the capacity to provide valid results from which reasonable inferences may be made.
In considering the introduction of a PELA, it is strongly advised that consultation takes place with experts in language testing and assessment. The Research and Links page of this website lists journals which regularly report on the extensive research which is conducted in this area. A useful introductory book on this topic is Alderson, J. C. (2005). Diagnosing foreign language proficiency. London: Continuum.
For links to specific types of PELA in place, consult the Database of Universities on this website. To obtain further information on the items presented in the graphic above, click on the relevant cell for more information.