ERIC Number: EJ787405
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2008-Mar
Reference Count: 0
Assessed Levels of Second Language Speaking Proficiency: How Distinct?
Iwashita, Noriko; Brown, Annie; McNamara, Tim; O'Hagan, Sally
Applied Linguistics, v29 n1 p24-49 Mar 2008
The study reported in this paper is an investigation of the nature of speaking proficiency in English as a second language in the context of a larger project to develop a rating scale for a new international test of English for Academic Purposes, TOEFL iBT (Brown et al. 2005). We report on a large-scale study of the relationship between detailed features of the spoken language produced by test-takers and holistic scores awarded by raters to these performances. Spoken test performances representing five different tasks and five different proficiency levels (200 performances in all) were analyzed using a range of measures of grammatical accuracy and complexity, vocabulary, pronunciation, and fluency. The results showed that features from each category helped distinguish overall levels of performance, with particular features of vocabulary and fluency having the strongest impact. Overall, the study contributes important insights into the nature of spoken proficiency as it develops and can be measured in rating scales for speaking, and has implications for methodological issues of the appropriateness of the use in language testing research contexts of measures developed in research on second language acquisition.
Descriptors: Second Language Learning, Oral Language, Language Tests, Rating Scales, English for Academic Purposes, Language Acquisition, Language Proficiency, Grammar, Vocabulary, Pronunciation, Language Fluency
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
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