The Inter-institutional Centre for Language Development and Assessment (ICELDA) is the outcome of a collaboration, since 2004, of four multilingual South African universities: Pretoria, Stellenbosch, North-West and Free State. Since its inception, additional collaborative agreements were realised, bringing on board more local and international partners such as:
These collaborative efforts serve as stimulus and evidence for the universal applicability of our products. Our tests, courses and other resources have been successfully used across the globe, with notable examples in Europe, Africa, the East, and Australia
History and partners
It is well-documented that a lack of proficiency in the languages of teaching and learning has a detrimental effect on study success in higher education. A consequence of this is that students do not complete their studies in the minimum prescribed time. Several explanations are offered in the literature for what the reasons for this might be, one of which is the low preparedness levels of first time entering students in terms of their academic language abilities.
It is therefore imperative to develop tools and resources (such as tests, course materials and online support mechanisms) that could inform pedagogical endeavours to help students and learners better integrate and acculturate into the academic environment.
ICELDA attempts to bridge this gap by offering support in
developing products and services concerning language testing, reading and writing, logical reasoning, basic numeracy skills, computer and information literacy skills, building corpora, and refining and validating tests and materials;
assisting language educators on how their learners are changing and the ways technology can be used to aid their teaching and learning strategies in terms of multimodal language learning, autonomous learning, blended learning and online modes of delivery, as well as new ways of designing and developing language learning tasks in the digital age;
stimulating postgraduate studies in language- and literacy-related fields;
promoting academic publications specifically concerned with test development and syllabus and course design;
advancing multilingualism through our products, materials and courses, thereby empowering teachers, learners, lecturers and students with new skills and knowledge; and collaborating and investing in projects that will lead to further research and development of useful products.
Products, resources and services
Tests: diagnostic, placement, attainment, proficiency and progress
Our academic literacy tests do not only measure mastery of language and structure (sound, form and meaning), but also assess the process of using language and being competent in communication. Language is therefore considered to be a social instrument we use to mediate and negotiate interaction in specific contexts. We thus measure the ability of users in terms of a combination of the following, depending on the type of test:
ambiguity, metaphor and idiom;
text types, genre and audience;
relations between text parts;
graphic and visual information;
distinctions between essential and non-essential information, classifying, comparing;
sequence and order;
inference, evidence, extrapolation;
communicative function (defining or arguing);
meaning beyond the sentence level;
grammar and structure;
listening comprehension; and
Available tests are:
Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) (available in more than one language)
Test of Academic Literacy Levels for Postgraduate Students (TALPS) (available in more than one language)
Academic Listening Test (ALT)
Language Proficiency Test (LPT) (available in more than one language)
Language for specific purposes
WIRed NWU: WIRed (Writing, Information Literacy and Reading Development) is a complete academic literacy course offered online for open and distance learning (ODL) students, or in a blended fashion for contact students.
Professional communication NWU-UAntwerpen: Nursing on the Move, a European co-funded project co-ordinated by the University of Antwerp, involved eight international partners. It resulted in a range of innovative tools for multilingual e-learning and on-the-job intercultural communication.
SU–NWU–InterCulturate Medics on the Move is a multimedia, blended learning tool for (pre-)professionals in multilingual South-African medical clinical contexts. The materials have been shown to have a positive effect on learner engagement and self-efficacy.
Short courses NWU: Various short courses are offered, including TEFL, English for International Students, Spoken English, Written English, German, French, Setswana, Sesotho, Afrikaans, Technical Writing, Business Writing, as well as preparatory courses for IELTS and TOEFL.
Online writing support SADiLaR-KU Leuven: This project is aimed at affording students the opportunity to get online support with academic writing. Four South African partners, as well as one international partner, are involved. The main purpose of the project is to design, implement and refine an online writing tool and repository of texts (corpus) and other resources in both Afrikaans and English, with the aim to extend this to the African languages as well.
Word lists and glossaries UP-CText-NWU-Department of Arts and Culture: Multilingual word lists and glossaries exist for hundreds of subject disciplines. The most recent is a multilingual academic word list.
UP-UCT (Department of Higher Education) Multilingual glossaries for 16 subject-fields plus an Academic Word List. Available at http://oertb.tlterm.com/
Research and development
All ICELDA products and projects are based on rigorous research. Numerous academic publications (150 and counting) analysing various dimensions of our products, like our tests, course materials and tools, have been published in double blind peer-reviewed journals. These analyses are also well received at both national and international conferences.
A large number of postgraduate students received bursaries or additional support (data or products) from ICELDA to advance their research in language related matters. Postdoctoral students working on ICELDA projects, also contributed to our research.
Our research and products are usually the result of projects. Current projects include the following:
Fair and unbiased testing (including online and paper-based, discipline specific testing and test translation) in multiple languages, funded by SADiLaR.
Diagnostic, placement, and proficiency testing, funded by SADiLaR.
Writing development aids (online writing aid platform), funded by SADiLaR and KU Leuven.
Writing centre support materials (educational videos, handouts, exercises, consultant training manual), funded by NWU.
Anti-plagiarism training materials: an interactive referencing tool, with exercises, handouts and videos, funded by NWU.
Enquiries and collaboration
For enquiries on products or for possible collaboration, contact any of the following persons: