cross language comparability of language tests year 12 examinations in estonia
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The Third EALTA Conference Krakow, 19–21 May 2006. Cross-language comparability of language tests: Year 12 examinations in Estonia. Ülle Türk [email protected] Research question. How to ensure the comparability of different foreign language Year 12 examinations?

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research question
Research question
  • How to ensure the comparability of different foreign language Year 12 examinations?
    • Why would the examinations need to be comparable?
    • What does comparability mean in this particular case?

[email protected]

overview
Overview
  • Background to Year 12 examinations
  • Year 12 examinations in foreign languages
  • Year 12 examinations in English and German
    • Reading
  • Conclusions and way forward

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year 12 examinations
Year 12 examinations

= national school-leaving examinations established in 1997

  • centrally developed, administered and marked
  • test the learning outcomes of the National Curriculum (2002)
  • contain tasks at different levels of difficulty
  • results on a 100-point scale
  • offered in 13 subjects
    • four foreign languages:English, French, German, Russian
  • students required to take three examinations:mother tongue + two others

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foreign language examinations
Foreign language examinations
  • National Curriculum for foreign languages
    • two compulsory foreign languages
      • FL A: starting in grades 1–3; 3 hrs per week/ 2 hrs per week
      • FL B: starting in grades 4–6; 3 hrs per week/ 2 hrs per week
    • level B2 in ONE foreign language by the end of Year 12
  • Ministry regulations on the development, administration and grading of examinations and reporting results
    • five papers: listening and reading comprehension, speaking, writing, language structures
    • equally weighted (20 points each)
  • High-stakes examinations
    • results used for university entrance
    • foreign language requirement: English, French or German

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questions
Questions
  • Does 93 in English reflect a significantly higher level of competence than 92?
  • Does 93 in the examination of 2006 reflect the same level of competence as 93 in the examination of 2004 (or 2001)?
  • Is 63 in English the same as 63 in German, French or Russian?
  • What does ‘the same’ mean?
    • The same level of competence?  B2
    • The level of competence reached after the same amount of work/ same number of classroom hours?
      • US Foreign Service Institute (Jackson & Kaplan, 1999: 78)
      • US Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center (MacWhinney 1995: 294)
      • Threshold Level (Trim)

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year 12 examinations in fls
Year 12 examinations in FLs

2001

2004

Mean %

No

No

Mean%

English

8488

64.1

9099

66.6

1408

1076

German

66.0

66.7

445

509

69.4

72.3

Russian

75.4

79.6

French

67

63

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german english reading paper
German & English: reading paper
  • 50 minutes
  • Three texts with tasks
  • Length of texts: 1500 words
  • No of tasks:
    • German: one task per text
    • English: one or two tasks per text
  • No of items
    • German: 20
    • English: 40

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reading mean scores
Reading: mean scores

Lang

Year

Paper

Text 1

Text 2

Text 2

English

2001

61%

71%

72%/66%

69%/35%

2004

68%

78%

75%

57%

German

2001

61%

67%

67%

55%

2004

60%

84%

62%

46%

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slide10
Text types

German

English

2001 & 2004

2001

2004

Short adverts

Text 1:

Newspaper interview

Opinion article

Text 2:

Short news/ opinion articles

Short book reviews

Magazine article

Text 3:

Newspaper/magazine article (600–700 words)

Newspaper article

Newspaper article

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slide11
Task types

German

English

2001 & 2004

2001

2004

Task 1:

matching (person + advert)

matching (question + answer)

1) inserting sentences into text

2) multiple choice: 3

Task 2:

matching (text + heading)

1) identifying important information

2) matching (definition + word)

identifying important information

Task 3:

multiple choice (4 options)

1) matching (text + title)

2) summary cloze

1) T/F/NI

2) matching (definition + word)

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conclusions and way forward
Conclusions and way forward
  • The reading paper in English seems more difficult than that in German (B2/C1?  B1/B2?)
  • Perhaps this should be the case?
  • What about the National Curriculum?

?Relate examinations of each language to the CEFR levels

?Study the rate of acquisition of different foreign languages

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sources
Sources
  • Hardcastle, Peter. 2004. Test Equivalence and Construct Compatibility across Languages. University of Cambridge ESOL Examinations Research Notes, 17, August, 6 − 11.
  • Jackson, Frederick H. & Marsha A. Kaplan. 1999. Lessons learned from fifty years of theory and practice in government language teaching. In: Georgetown University Round Table on Languages and Linguistics. Washington, DC: Georgetown University Press, 71−87.
  • MacWhinney, Brian. 1995. Language-Specific Prediction in Foreign Language Learning. Language Testing, 12, 292−320.

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