Professor Barry O’Sullivan is the Head of Assessment Research & Development at the British Council where he was responsible for the design and development of the Aptis test service. He has undertaken research across many areas on language testing and assessment and its history and has worked on the development and refinement of the socio-cognitive model of test development and validation since 2000. He is particularly interested in the communication of test validation and in test localisation. He has presented his work at many conferences around the world, while over 100 of his publications have appeared in a range of international journals, books and technical reports. He has worked on many test development and validation projects over the past 25 years and advises ministries and institutions on assessment policy and practice.

Barry was the founding president of the UK Association of Language Testing and Assessment (UKALTA) and holds honorary and visiting chairs at a number of universities globally. In 2016 he was awarded fellowship of the Academy of Social Science in the UK, and was elected to Fellowship of the Asian Association for Language Assessment in 2017. He was awarded an OBE for his contribution to English language testing in 2019.



Reconsidering Localisation  

I seem to talk about localisation a lot when I come to New Directions. This may well be due to the fact that the importance of localisation has been most obviously recognised in the East Asia region.  

At the first conference in Beijing in 2013, I spoke about the theoretical and practical implications of localisation, which I defined as “[T]he process of ensuring that all predicted construct-irrelevant variance related to the test taking population is controlled for in the design and delivery of a test.” A year later, I broached the topic in Tokyo when I first argued for the inclusion of key stakeholders in the localisation and validation process. Then, in Seoul (2018), I returned to the topic, arguing that we need to reconsider population focused testing and move more towards focusing on the individual-in-context. To exemplify this, I presented localisation as a natural extension of the socio-cognitive model I had published a few years earlier.  

 Now, five years on, I return to this increasingly important topic to reflect on my own thinking and to present new and (I hope) meaningful insights from both theoretical and practical perspectives. This will involve re-visiting the socio-cognitive model, focusing on the integrated arguments approach proposed by Micheline Chalhoub-Deville and myself in 2020. This will allow me to demonstrate how the concept of localisation can be extended to the broader conceptualisation of the learning system. Taken together, these different perspectives will help us to more fully appreciate the complexity and centrality of localisation.