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    LANGUAGEPROFICIENCY

    TESTING

    A Critical Survey

    Presented by Ruth Hungerland,Memorial University of Newfoundland,

    TESL Newfoundland and Labrador

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    Please God may I not failPlease God may I get over sixty per cent

    Please God may I get a high place

    Please God may all those likely to beat

    me get killed in road accidents and

    may they die roaring.

    Irish novelist McGahern

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    OverviewTypes of language tests

    Ways of describing tests

    Evaluating the usefulness of languagetests

    Overview of common language tests:

    TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, and CAEL Impact of testing on learning and

    teaching

    Critical use of language tests

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    Testing Questions

    What is actually being tested by the testwe are using?

    What is thebest test to use?What relevant information does the test

    provide?

    How is testing affecting teaching andlearning behaviour?

    Is language testing fair?

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    Types of Language Tests

    Achievement test

    associated with process of instruction

    assesses where progress has been made

    should support the teaching to which itrelates

    Alternative Assessment need for assessment to be integrated with the

    goals of the curriculum

    learners are engaged in self-assessment

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    Proficiency testaims to establish a test takers readiness

    for a particular communicative role

    general measure of language abilitymeasures a relatively stable trait

    used to make predictions about futurelanguage performance (Hamp-Lyons, 1998)

    high-stakes test

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    Some ways of describing tests

    Objective Subjective

    Indirect Direct

    Discrete-pointIntegrative

    Aptitude / Achievement/

    Proficiency Performance

    External Internal

    Norm-Referenced Criterion-

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    Evaluating the usefulness of a

    language testUsefulness= reliability+validity+ impact

    authenticity+interactiveness+practicality

    (Bachman and Palmer, 1996)

    TESTUSEFULNESSRELIABILITY VALIDITY

    Impact Authenticity

    Practicality Interactiveness

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    Evaluating the usefulness of a

    language testEssential measurement qualities

    reliability

    construct validity

    Evaluation: test taker - test task - TargetLanguage Use (TLU)

    TLU

    Test TaskTest Taker

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    Overview of common

    language proficiency tests

    TOEFL TOEIC

    IELTS

    CAEL

    ETS, US

    UK

    CDN

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    Test of English as a Foreign

    Language One million test takers

    per year

    P&P310-677/

    CBT0-

    300

    Three sections:

    Listening

    Structure and WrittenExpression

    ReadingComprehension

    TWE

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    Test of English as a Foreign

    LanguageObjective Subjective

    Discrete-point Integrative

    ProficiencyAchievement

    discord between test and understanding

    of language and communicationpassive recognition of language

    cutoff scores are very problematic

    general proficiency academic

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    Test of English for

    International Communication TOEFL equivalent

    for workplace setting

    two sections, 200 q.

    listening

    reading

    entertainment,

    manufacturing,health, travel,finance, etc.

    objective and cost-

    efficient

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    Test of English for

    International Communication

    Objective Subjective

    Discrete-point Integrative

    ProficiencyAchievement

    lack of correspondence with TLU

    narrow construct

    test content is extremely broad

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    International English

    Language Testing System Academic/General

    Results reported in

    band scores 1-9

    Listening

    G.Reading A.Reading

    G.Writing A.Writing

    Speaking

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    International English

    Language Testing System

    Objective Subjective

    Discrete-point Integrative

    ProficiencyAchievement

    test tasks reflective of academic tasks

    score reporting is diagnostic

    need for reliability research

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    Canadian Academic English

    Language Assessment Mirrors language

    use in university

    Topic-based,integratedreading, listening,and writing tasks

    provides specificdiagnosticinformation

    scores are reported-

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    Canadian Academic English

    Language AssessmentObjective Subjective

    Discrete-point Integrative

    ProficiencyAchievement

    tests performance and use

    diminished gap between test andclassroom

    validity is supported by teacherevaluations

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    Washback: The Impact ofTests on Teaching and

    Learning The power of tests has a strong

    influence on curriculum and learning

    outcomes(Shohamy, 1993)

    good test positive washback

    form of test impact depends onantecedent: educational context and

    condition

    process

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    Critical Language Testing

    Focus on consequence and ethics oftest use

    Tests are embedded in cultural,educational, and political arenas

    whose agenda?

    Questions traditional testing knowledgeEnglish proficiency= academic success?

    English: got it or get it!

    Responsible test use(Hamp-Lyons, 2000)

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    Testing Questions

    What is actually being tested by the testwe are using?

    What is thebest test to use?What relevant information does the test

    provide?

    How is testing affecting teaching andlearning behaviour?

    Is language testing fair?

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