Washback in Education: A Critical Review and Its Implications for Language Teachers

Ka Long Roy Chan


Even though washback has been widely researched in recent years, especially on its form in various intra- and inter-national examinations (e.g. IELTS and TOEFL), research on how washback affects teachers and their teaching practices is still scarce. The aim of the current paper is to provide an up-to-date and holistic review on the theories in washback as well as to draw researchers’ and TESOL teachers’ attention to how washback should be examined with relation to language education, especially in teacher trainings. Key models in washback and several recent studies which investigate washback in different aspects are discussed, and at the end of the paper, implications and suggestions on washback for teachers and researchers are addressed. More should be done on washback especially on how teachers should respond to the effect.

Full Text:



Allen, D. (2016). Investigating washback to the learner from the IELTS test in the Japanese tertiary context. Language Testing in Asia, 6(7), doi: 10.1186/s40468-016-0030-z

Bachman, F. L. & Palmer, S. A. (1996). Language testing in practice: Designing and developing useful language tests. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Bailey, K. M. (1996). Working for washback: A review of the washback concept in language testing. Language Testing, 13, 257–279.

Barner, M. (2016). The washback effects of the TOEFL iBT in Vietnam. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 41(7), 158-174.

Barnes, M. (2017). Washback: Exploring what constitutes “good” teaching practices. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 30, 1-12.

Chan (2016/2017). Attitudes towards Hong Kong English: Native English Teachers and Local English Teachers. Asian Journal of English Language Teaching , 26, 85-110.

Chan (2018). Washback in English pronunciation in Hong Kong: Hong Kong English or British English? In Chan, K. G. D. et al. (Comps.), Motivation, identity and autonomy in foreign language education (pp.27-40). Singapore: NUS Centre for Language Studies.

Cholis, H. W. N. & Rizqi, F. (2018).Senior High School English Teachers’ Perceptions on a High-stakes Test (SBMPTN): A Washback Study. International Journal of Education and Literacy Studies, 6(3), 47-52.

Cheng, L. (2004). The washback effect of a public examination change on teachers’ perceptions toward their classroom teaching. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe and A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in Language Testing: Research Contents and Methods (pp. 147–170). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Green, A. (2007). Washback to learning outcomes: a compar- ative study of IELTS preparation and university profes- sional language courses. Assessment in Education, 14(1), 75-97.

Hakim, L. N. (2018). Washback effect in language testing: What do we know and what is its effect? Jurnal Forum Didaktik, 2(1), 59-68.

Hansen Edwards, J. G. (2019). The politics of English in Hong Kong: Attitudes, Identity and use. London: Routledge.

Hughes, A. (1989). Testing for language teachers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Hughes, A. (2003). Testing for Language Teachers (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kılıçkaya, F. (2016). Washback effects of a high-stakes exam on lower secondary school English teachers’ practices in the classroom. Lublin Studies in Modern Languages and Literature, 40(1), 116-134.

Pan, Y. C. (2009). Review of washback and its pedagogical implications. VNU Journal of Science, F oreign Languages, 25, 257–263.

Pan, Y. C. (2013). Does teaching to the test exist? A case study of teacher washback in Taiwan. The Journal of Asia TEFL, 10(4), 185–213.

Park, S. (2018). Reinterpretation of the concept of washback in language testing. SNU Working Papers in English Linguistics and Language, 16, 125-142.

Saglam, A. L. G. and Farhady, H. (2019). Can exams change how and what learners learn? Investigating the washback effect of a university English language proficiency test in the Turkish context. Advances in Language and Literary Studies, 10(1), 177-185.

Spratt, M. (2005). Washback and the classroom: the implications for teaching and learning of studies of washback from exams. Language Teaching Research, 9(1), 5–29

Tsang, C. L. H. (2017). Examining Washback on Learning from a Sociocultural Perspective:The Case of a Graded Approach to English Language Testing in Hong Kong [Master Thesis]. University College London: British Council Hong Kong.

Toksöz, I. and Kılıçkaya, F. (2017). Review of Journal Articles on Washback in Language Testing in Turkey. Lublin Studies in Modern Languages and Literature, 41(2), 184-204.

Wang, Y. and Bao, J. (2013). Washback effect on second language acquisition test: A case study of college English entrance exam. Proceedings of the 2013 International Academic Workshop on Social Science, 864–868.

Watanabe, Y. (2004). Methodology in washback studies. In L. Cheng, Y. Watanabe and A. Curtis (Eds.), Washback in language testing: Research contents and methods (pp. 19–37). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.


  • There are currently no refbacks.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.