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LANGUAGE PROFICIENCY TESTING. A Critical Survey Presented by Ruth Hungerland, Memorial University of Newfoundland, TESL Newfoundland and Labrador. Please God may I not fail Please God may I get over sixty per cent Please God may I get a high place Please God may all those likely to beat

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language proficiency testing

LANGUAGE PROFICIENCYTESTING

A Critical Survey

Presented by Ruth Hungerland,

Memorial University of Newfoundland,

TESL Newfoundland and Labrador

slide2
Please God may I not fail

Please 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

overview
Overview
  • Types of language tests
  • Ways of describing tests
  • Evaluating the usefulness of language tests
  • Overview of common language tests:

 TOEFL, TOEIC, IELTS, and CAEL

  • Impact of testing on learning and teaching
  • Critical use of language tests
  • Testing Questions
testing questions
Testing Questions
  • What is actually being tested by the test we are using?
  • What is the“best” test to use?
  • What relevant information does the test provide?
  • How is testing affecting teaching and learning behaviour?
  • Is language testing “fair”?
types of language tests
Types of Language Tests
  • Achievement test
    • associated with process of instruction
    • assesses where progress has been made
    • should support the teaching to which it relates
    • Alternative Assessment
      • need for assessment to be integrated with the goals of the curriculum
      • learners are engaged in self-assessment
slide6
Proficiency test
    • aims to establish a test taker’s readiness for a particular communicative role
    • general measure of “language ability”
    • measures a relatively stable trait
    • used to make predictions about future language performance (Hamp-Lyons, 1998)
    • high-stakes test
some ways of describing tests
Some ways of describing tests

Objective Subjective

Indirect Direct

Discrete-point Integrative

Aptitude / Achievement/

Proficiency Performance

External Internal

Norm-Referenced Criterion-Referenced

evaluating the usefulness of a language test
Evaluating the usefulness of a language test
  • Usefulness= reliability+validity+ impact authenticity+interactiveness+practicality

(Bachman and Palmer, 1996)

Impact

Authenticity

TEST

USEFULNESS

RELIABILITY

VALIDITY

Practicality

Interactiveness

evaluating the usefulness of a language test9
Evaluating the usefulness of a language test
  • Essential measurement qualities
    • reliability
    • construct validity
  • Evaluation: test taker - test task - Target Language Use (TLU)

TLU

Test Taker

Test Task

overview of common language proficiency tests
Overview of common language proficiency tests

ETS, US

TOEFL

TOEIC

UK

IELTS

CAEL

CDN

t est of e nglish as a f oreign l anguage
Test of English as a Foreign Language
  • One million test takers per year
  • P&P 310-677/ CBT 0-300
  • Three sections:
    • Listening
    • Structure and Written Expression
    • Reading Comprehension
    • TWE
t est o f e nglish as a f oreign l anguage
Test of English as a Foreign Language

Objective Subjective

Discrete-point Integrative

Proficiency Achievement

  • discord between test and understanding of language and communication
  • passive recognition of language
  • cutoff scores are very problematic
  • general proficiency  academic proficiency
t est o f e nglish for i nternational c ommunication
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”
t est o f e nglish for i nternational c ommunication14
Test of English for International Communication

Objective Subjective

Discrete-point Integrative

Proficiency Achievement

  • lack of correspondence with TLU
  • narrow construct
  • test content is extremely broad
i nternational e nglish l anguage t esting s ystem
International English Language Testing System
  • Academic/General
  • Results reported in band scores 1-9

Listening

G.Reading

A.Reading

G.Writing

A.Writing

Speaking

i nternational e nglish l anguage t esting s ystem16
International English Language Testing System

Objective Subjective

Discrete-point Integrative

Proficiency Achievement

  • test tasks reflective of academic tasks
  • score reporting is diagnostic
  • need for reliability research
c anadian a cademic e nglish l anguage assessment
Canadian Academic English Language Assessment
  • Mirrors language use in university
  • Topic-based,integrated reading, listening, and writing tasks
  • provides specific diagnostic information
  • scores are reported in bands 10-90
c anadian a cademic e nglish l anguage assessment18
Canadian Academic English Language Assessment

Objective Subjective

Discrete-point Integrative

Proficiency Achievement

  • tests performance and use
  • diminished gap between test and classroom
  • validity is supported by teacher evaluations
  • studies on predicting academic success
washback the impact of tests on teaching and learning
Washback: The Impact of Tests 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 on
    • antecedent: educational context and condition
    • process
    • consequences (Wall, 2000)
critical language testing
Critical Language Testing
  • Focus on consequence and ethics of test use
  • Tests are embedded in cultural, educational, and political arenas
    • whose agenda?
  • Questions traditional testing knowledge
    • English proficiency= academic success?
    • English: got it or get it!
  • Responsible test use (Hamp-Lyons, 2000)
testing questions21
Testing Questions
  • What is actually being tested by the test we are using?
  • What is the”best” test to use?
  • What relevant information does the test provide?
  • How is testing affecting teaching and learning behaviour?
  • Is language testing “fair”?