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HETC Project University Development Grants (UDGs) Training Program for Proposal Writers. Lec. 2. English & English Language Testing. by Prof. Ryhana Raheem Open University of Sri Lanka. Overview of Presentation. Complexities of Language Proficiency English for Academic Purposes

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HETC Project

University Development Grants (UDGs)

Training Program for Proposal Writers

Lec. 2. English & English Language Testing


Prof. Ryhana Raheem

Open University of Sri Lanka

Overview of presentation
Overview of Presentation

  • Complexities of Language Proficiency

  • English for Academic Purposes

  • Establishing Benchmarks for Academic English

  • UTEL and the Test of English Proficiency

  • Performance of Institutions on the Test of English Proficiency

Types of language proficiency cummins 1994
Types of Language Proficiency- Cummins 1994

  • BICS - Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills

  • CALP – Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency

Basic interpersonal communication skills bics
Basic Interpersonal Communication Skills (BICS)

Relatively easy to acquire

Takes 2 – 3 years

Mostly oral

Cognitively undemanding

Context embedded –meaning can be guessed at from visual or other clues

Cognitive academic language proficiency calp
Cognitive Academic Language Proficiency (CALP)

  • Complex

  • Takes 5 – 7 years to master

  • Cognitively demanding

  • Involves tasks such as comprehension, synthesis, analysis

  • Context reduced- few clues available

  • Requires a good command of language

English for general academic purposes egap r r jordan 1997

  • Academic reading

  • Academic writing

  • Reference skills

  • Participation in seminars and discussions

  • Listening and Note-taking/Note Making

  • Participating in seminars/tutorials/ discussions/supervision

    • listening and note-taking

    • asking questions, asking for clarification

    • answering questions; explaining

    • agreeing and disagreeing; stating points of view; giving reasons; interrupting

    • speaking with(out) notes: giving a paper/oral presentations, initiating comments, responding; verbalising data

R.R. Jordan (1997)

Complexities of sri lankan university system vis a vis english
Complexities of Sri Lankan University System vis-a-vis English

  • National Universities – established at various times, and varying in size and resources

  • Each university caters to a variety of Faculties

  • Wide discrepancy in student standards of English – at entry

  • Standards of English within universities – not uniform as different Faculties demand different levels of proficiency

Designing benchmarks for the sri lankan university system
Designing Benchmarks for the Sri Lankan University System

  • Outcome of ELTU Development Project sponsored by the British Council

  • Identified by all Heads of University ELT Units as a priority activity

  • Design concept based on Common European Framework-facilitated by John Slaght of the Centre for Applied Linguistics and Language Studies, University of Reading, UK.

Benchmark design team
Benchmark Design Team

  • University of Colombo

    • Dr D Mendis, Ms N Mahesan, Ms S Ilangakoon,

      Ms R Kulasingham

  • University of Kelaniya

    • Ms D Wettewa

  • University of Peradeniya

    • Ms C Ellawala

  • University of Sri Jayawardenepura

    • Ms P Nagasunderam, Ms C Galapatti, Mr DLS Ananda

  • Open University of Sri Lanka

    • Prof R Raheem, Ms D Devendra, Ms V Medawattegedera, Ms R De Silva

Skills and tasks as per utel 2004
Skills and Tasks as per UTEL (2004)

  • Writing

    • Composition (Short argumentative essay)

    • Describing a graph

  • Reading

    • Comprehension passages

  • Speech

    • Personal Interview

    • Short speech on given topic

  • Listening

    • Comprehension passage

Scope of tep project 2009
Scope of TEP Project2009

  • Test samples of students from a variety of disciplines across 12 universities and 2 private sector institutions that had been granted QEF funding by the IRQUE Project, a World Bank funded project for conventional universities and institutions

  • Each sample to consist of 50 students

  • 27 groups

Details of test of english proficiency tep 2009
Details of Test of English Proficiency (TEP) -2009

  • Level tested – Benchmark 5 abilities

  • Academic level- Completed 2 years of study

  • All four language skills tested-as decided for UTEL

  • 2 tasks per Skill

  • Test administered to 25 groups across 12 universities and 2 private sector institutions

  • Internationally moderated+ locally moderated

Disciplines tested participant institutions
Disciplines Tested & Participant Institutions

  • Medicine: Colombo, SJP, Ruhuna, Jaffna

  • Science: Jaffna, Peradeniya, Kelaniya, Rajarata, Sabaragamuwa

  • Agriculture: Peradeniya, Eastern, Sabaragamuwa

  • Accountancy: ICASL, Kelaniya, SJP


  • Engineering(Civil, Mechanical, Chemical): Moratuwa

  • Earth Sciences: Moratuwa,

  • Management and Commerce: SJP, Kelaniya

  • Social Sciences: South Eastern, Peradeniya

  • Languages: South Eastern

  • Veterinary Science: Peradeniya

  • Food Science: Wayamba

Performance in Reading (all students = 845)

Mark Range in Reading

= 125

Performance in Writing (all students = 845)

Mark Range in Writing

= 476

Performance in Listening (all students = 845)

Mark Range in Listening

= 150

Performance in Speech (all students = 845)

Mark Range in Speech


Findings of tep
Findings of TEP

  • Variation in performance across the University system

  • Overall - Writing is a weak skill

  • Performance in Reading, Speech and Listening – satisfactory at Benchmark 5 level

  • Benchmark 5 could be accepted as an appropriate standard for undergraduates in second year of study

Problems and issues
Problems and Issues

  • Non-professionalism of Some QEF Coordinators

    • Unacceptable interpersonal behaviour

    • Unhelpful/uncooperative

    • Inability to cope with email correspondence

  • Unacceptable standards of student behaviour within the examination hall

  • General knowledge of students – very limited

  • Suggestions for incorporating benchmarks into university elt programmes
    Suggestions for incorporating Benchmarks into University ELT programmes

    • Identify Benchmark level of students at entry –Faculty/discipline-wise

    • Define target Benchmark level(s) for different years of study – Faculty/discipline-wise

    • Match target level(s) with current level and identify what can be achieved within academic time provided

    • Design ELT courses with Benchmarks as objectives

    • Use Benchmarks as guide to evaluation