Contextualized Listening Assessment (CoLA)

The Contextualized Listening Assessment (CoLA) is part of the Minnesota Language Proficiency Assessments (MLPA) battery of instruments developed for the purpose of certifying the second language proficiency of secondary and post-secondary students.

The CoLA is a 35-item assessment in which test-takers listen to mini-dialogues organized around a story line and respond to multiple-choice questions. The characters in the story engage in a variety of real-life interactions appropriate for assessing proficiency at the Intermediate-Low and Intermediate-High levels. Each situation is contextualized through the use of photographs and advance organizers. The CoLA are available online for French, German, and Spanish.

To reduce test anxiety:

  • Test takers control when the audio segments are played
  • Test takers have time to employ test taking strategies, i.e. activating schema in anticipation of what they will hear, reading questions before listening, etc.
  • Test takers have the choice of listening segments once or twice.

    During pilot testing of the CoLA, we found that test takers wanted, and usually took advantage of, the opportunity to listen to the segment a second time. They indicated frustration, however, if they were required to listen to a segment a second time when they felt they had already understood it.

    Like the Contextualized Reading Assessment (CoRA), the CoLA is scored automatically. Results are saved on a secure server from which teachers can download results in a spreadsheet format.


Other MLPA instruments


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Center for Advanced Research on Language Acquisition (CARLA) • 140 University International Center • 331 - 17th Ave SE • Minneapolis, MN 55414