ERIC Number: ED202239
Record Type: RIE
Publication Date: 1980
Language Testing and the Notion of "Authenticity."
Gaies, Stephen J.
As a reaction to the popularization of so-called "discrete point" tests of language proficiency, that is, tests that evaluate control of a sample of specific linguistic items, a number of testing formats which provide a more global, integrative measure of language proficiency have been proposed or revived in recent years. Some of these measures are: oral interviews, written compositions, and cloze tests. Among the advantages often cited for this latter approach is the greater face validity of such tests; they require subjects to perform tasks which more closely mirror language use in the "real world." The thesis of this paper is that claims about face validity, or "authenticity," to borrow a term Widdowson (1976, 1978) uses in connection with the nature of learning materials, are often based on an oversimplified notion of face validity and are thus to a large degree specious. An examination of a number of widely used "integrative" testing formats will reveal that face validation encompasses at least four variables and that a testing format which would be fully face valid would be impractical and uneconomical for most settings. The conclusion of the above argument is that the only truly authentic language tests are those which take place outside the context of a language instruction setting. The implication of this for statistical approaches to test validation are outlined. (Author/AMH)
Publication Type: Opinion Papers; Speeches/Meeting Papers
Education Level: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Note: Paper presented at the Kentucky Foreign Language Conference (April 24-26, 1980).