ERIC Number: EJ902741
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2010-Oct
Reference Count: 9
Test Review: Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment
Malone, Margaret E.
Language Testing, v27 n4 p631-636 Oct 2010
This article presents a review of the Canadian Academic English Language (CAEL) Assessment, a high stakes standardized test of the English language. It is a topic-based test that integrates listening, reading, writing and speaking. The test is designed to describe the level of English language proficiency of test takers planning to study at English-medium colleges and universities. The test has many positive qualities, including innovation, use of topics, and integration of skills as well as a professional and easy to navigate website. Its innovation in use of topics consistently throughout the test form is remarkable. In addition, the skills are truly integrated across the modalities. The integration is not abrupt, wherein, for example, listening finishes and writing begins but instead skills are revisited through the test. The effort and research involved in developing and operationalizing the test demonstrate a commitment to innovation in language testing and a sincere attempt to change the approach to the college entrance English language test. At the same time, the test has some weaknesses. Although the website is easy to navigate, the print materials are difficult to manage and the layout is often challenging to read. The task prompts for writing and speaking are more open-ended and less focused than those found on other large-scale tests of English, which may result in lack of consistent elicitation in future studies. The author concludes that while the careful design and intent of this test are admirable and represent a genuine effort to increase the validity of the English language admissions test for non-native speakers of English, additional validity and reliability studies must be carried out to support it. At the same time, this innovative approach to test should be recognized. With its many different types of tasks, the CAEL represents a clear alternative to the more common multiple-choice tests used for similar purposes. In addition, the philosophy behind the test reflects a respect for the test purpose and test taker. By developing integrated tasks, the test developers recognize the need for test tasks to reflect the academic context. Moreover, the instructions to test administrators reflect the ILTA Code of Practice in the reminder to treat examinees kindly and humanely.
Descriptors: Test Reliability, Language Tests, Standardized Tests, Test Validity, Innovation, Test Reviews, Native Speakers, English (Second Language), Academic Discourse, English for Academic Purposes, High Stakes Tests, Language Proficiency, Test Construction, Web Sites, College Entrance Examinations, College Admission
SAGE Publications. 2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 91320. Tel: 800-818-7243; Tel: 805-499-9774; Fax: 800-583-2665; e-mail: email@example.com; Web site: http://sagepub.com
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Canada