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简明英语测试学第一章教案Chapter1


This course has made a modest attempt to discuss testing, which not only has had a look at theoretical domains but also has made exploration into teaching reality. Language testing is closely interrelated with language learning and teaching .It is one important aspect during the process of learning and teaching a foreign language. The testing and examination history in China can be traced back to the imperial period nearly two thousand years ago. The existence of English language testing (tests), on the other hand, has a much shorter history. These English tests, developed and administered over the past 50 years, however, are taken by billions of learners of the English language in China. To many of these learners, doing well on these tests are the key to their academic success as well as the success of their life in general. This chapter will offer a brief survey of English language testing in the following four aspects: general approaches to English language testing, relationship between testing and teaching, major areas of concern in research and practice in the past twenty years or so, and main features of some of the current large-scale English language tests. The purpose of the chapter is to help you form a clear picture of what has happened and what is happening in the field of English language testing within the Chinese context.

Chapter One

A Brief Survey of English Language Testing

Language testing are instruments used to measure language ability or aptitude. A defining feature of language tests is that they consist of specified tasks through which language abilities are elicited. They are thus distinguished from scales, which represent only the means of describing or reporting the results of the test. “Abilities” refers simply to what people can do in, or with, a language. It could, for example, include the ability to converse fluently in a language, as well as the ability to recite grammatical rules( Heaton, 1988: 15) . 1.1 The relationship between testing and teaching Both language testing and language teaching are based on linguistics and psychology. They followed the disciplinary trends in linguistic and psychological theories. A large number of examinations in the past have encouraged a tendency to separate testing from teaching. Both testing and teaching are so closely interrelated that it is virtually impossible to work in either field without being constantly concerned with the other. The proper relationship between testing and teaching is that of partnership. Tests may be constructed primarily as devices to reinforce learning and to motivate the student or primarily as a means of assessing the student?s performance in the language. In the former case, the test is geared to the teaching that has taken place, whereas in the latter case the teaching is often geared largely to the test.

Language testing can help the teacher find out the precise areas of difficulty encountered by the class or by the individual student. It is instructive for the teacher to redesign the teaching syllabus to improve the teaching effectiveness and solve the problems of the whole class or the individual student. Standardized tests and public examinations, in fact, may exert such a considerable influence on the average teachers that they are often helpful to decide the kind of teaching that takes place before the tests. Over the years language teachers have been using tests as part of their classroom teaching. A language test which seeks to find out what candidates can do with language provides a focus for purposeful, everyday communication activities. Such a test will have a more useful effect on the learning of a particular language than a mechanical test of structure. Such a test will have a more useful effect on the learning of a particular language than a mechanical test of structure. In the past even good tests of grammar, translation or language manipulation had a negative and even harmful effect on teaching. A good communicative test of language, however, should have a much more positive effect on learning and teaching and should generally result in improved learning habits. A short history of language testing Essentially, the general picture that emerges is as follows. In China, during the Han Dynasty (201BCE 时代 to 8 CE), examinations on classical Confucian doctrine replaced the patronage, a method of selecting civil servants. To avoid corruption, all essays were marked anonymously, and the Emperor personally supervised the final paper. In Europe, examinations flourished first in the universities: from the seventeenth century the debates that had been required for degrees were first supplemented and later replaced by written examinations. In Prussia, examinations were first used for selection of civil servants in the eighteenth country. In Britain, written examinations in emulation of the major university examinations were first used in the middle of the nineteenth century as a means of selecting candidates for the upper grades in the Indian Civil Service, and later adopted for admission to the Home Civil Service and other professions. In France, Napoleon introduced oral examinations at the end of secondary school. In England, similar examinations were established some fifty years later under the control of various universities. By the end of the nineteenth century public examinations were firmly established in Western Europe as methods of controlling education and selecting civil servants. By the 1890s, the element of uncertainty and chance still involved in written examinations had been recognized, and minimal efforts were being made to overcome them. At that period of time, tests were mainly subjective and unscientific. The objective modern language test derived its appeal from the belief that the methods of mental testing could be satisfactorily applied to specific cognitive abilities as well as to general intelligence, and the associated belief that objective new-type tests were fairer than the
older traditional examinations.

The first new- type language tests appeared in the United States at the beginning of the 1920s, and received a strong stimulus from their utilization in a major U.S. study of language teaching at the end of the decade. During the 1930s, the growth of the psychometrics industry encouraged the use of objective testing techniques. By 1954, objective testing seemed to be successful on one side of the Atlantic at least. Then the changed goals of language teaching required the developments of techniques for testing 1.2 Four approaches to English language testing-- Development of Language Testing Approach is the most general level, and refers to the views and beliefs or theories of language and language learning on which planning is based. Language tests can be roughly classified according to four main approaches to testing (i) the essay-translation approach; (ii) the structuralist approach; (iii) the integrative approach; and (iv) the communicative approach. Although these approaches are listed here in chronological order, they should not be regarded as being strictly confined to certain periods in the development of language testing. Nor are the four approaches always mutually exclusive. A useful test will generally incorporate features of several of these approaches. Indeed, a test may have certain inherent weaknesses simply because it is limited to one approach, however attractive that approach may appear. 1.2.1 The essay-translation approach (写作翻译法)写作和语法分析 This approach is commonly referred to as the Pre-scientific stage of language testing(before 1950s). In the pre-scientific stage, people believe that language testing just means
checking whether or not students have remembered the knowledge of a language. To test students? memory of language knowledge. It is based on teachers? subjective knowledge and experience with low Reliability and Validity.Tests usually consist of essay writing, translation, and grammatical analysis. The test also have a heavy literary and cultural bias. Items are usually responded in the form of written language and there are no scientific testing theories . Public

examinations (e.g. secondary school leaving examinations) resulting from the essay-translation approach sometimes have an aural/oral component at the upper intermediate and advanced levels-though this has sometimes been regarded in the past as something additional and in no way an integral part of the syllabus or examination.

1.2.2 The structualist-psychometric approach(结构主义)心理测量法 多项选择题 (Multiple-choices)(mastery of linguistic knowledge or linguistic competence)
In 1900s, the structural linguistics and behaviorist psychology occupied the leading position. Structural linguistics believes that language is a system of speech sounds, arbitrarily assigned to the objects, stated and referred for human communication. The theory of behaviorist psychology is also called S-R theory. It is characterized by emphasis on externally observable response(R) to

specific stimuli(S). Behaviorist sees language as a series of learned response to stimuli. Under the influence of the structural linguistics and behaviorist psychology, the structuralist- psychometric testing(or the structuralist approach) comes into being(early 1950s- late 1960s). This approach is characterized by the view that language learning is chiefly concerned with the systematic acquisition of a set of habits. It draws on the work of structural linguistics, especially the importance of contrastive analysis and the need to identify and measure the learner?s mastery of the discrete elements of the target language: phonology, vocabulary and grammar. Such mastery is tested using words and sentences completely divorced from any context on the test in a comparatively short time. The skill of listening, speaking, reading, and writing are also separated from each other as much as possible because it is considered essential to test one thing at a time. As a result, the need for statistical measures of reliability and validity is considered to be of the utmost importance. It has high realibility. Such features of the structuralist approach are, of course, still valid for certain types of test and for certain purposes. For example, the desire to concentrate on the testees? ability to write by attempting to separate a composition test from reading is commendable in certain respects. Indeed, there are several features of this approach which merit consideration when constructing any good test, hence the popularity of the discrete point testing. Discrete point testing refers to the testing of one element at one time, item by item. Multiple choice is the typical example of it ---a type of item which lend itself to statistical analysis(objective and reliable). However, discrete point testing neglects the context and discourse. Therefore the structuralist-psychomeiric approach tests one single area at one time and it is decontexualized.

1.2.3 The integrative approach 综合法―――――完成填空,听写。
This approach is often designed to assess the learner?s ability to use two or more skills simultaneously. Thus, integrative tests are concerned with a global view of proficiency-an underlying language competence or ?grammar of expectancy?, which it is argued every learner possesses regardless of the purpose for which the language is being learnt. In the 1970s, people who believe in the unitary competence hypothesis (UCH) advocate the integrative approach(1970s-early1980s), which is under the influence of psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics. This approach involves the testing of language in context and is thus concerned primarily with meaning and the total communicative effect of discourse. Thus, integrative tests are concerned with a global view of proficiency and are often designed to assess the learner?s ability to use two or more skills simultaneously. Integrative tests are best characterized by the use of cloze testing and of dictation (ibid: 16) as well as writing composition, making notes while listening to a lecture, etc. Oral interviews, translation and essay writing are also included in many integrative tests- a point frequently overlooked by those who take too narrow a view of integrative testing. The principle of cloze testing is based on the Gestalt theory of ?closure? (closing gaps in patterns subconsciously). Thus, cloze tests measure the reader?s ability to decode ?interrupted? or ?mutilated? messages by making the most acceptable substitutions from all the contextual clues available. Every nth word is deleted in a text (usually every fifth, sixth or seventh word), and students have to complete each gap in the text, using the most appropriate word. So the integrative

approach is testing of language in context and may test more than one skill at a time. Integrative testing involves ?functional language? but not the use of functional language.

1.2.4 The communicative approach 交际法(learners? performance)
Nowadays, the communicative approach(1980s-now) becomes more and more important and popular. The communicative approach to language testing is sometimes linked to the integrative approach. However, although both approaches emphasize the importance of the meaning of utterances rather than their form and structure, there are nevertheless fundamental differences between the two approaches. Communicative tests are concerned primarily (if not totally) with how language is used in communication. Testing means not communicative testing of language but the testing of communicative language. ?Use? is concerned with how people actually use language for a multitude of different purposes while ?usage? concerns the formal patterns of language (described in prescriptive grammars and lexicons). A language test which seeks to find out what candidates can do with language provides a focus for purposeful, everyday communication activities. Such a test will have a more useful effect on the learning of a particular language than a mechanical test of structure. Therefore the communicative approach needs to use authentic material from the real life and asks the candidate to use language both accurately and appropriately. Success is judged in terms of the effectiveness of the communication, which takes place rather than formal linguistic accuracy. Language ?use? is often emphasized to the exclusion of language usage. In practice, however, some tests of a communicative nature include the testing of usage and also assess ability to handle the formal patterns of the target language. Indeed, few supporters of the communicative approach would argue that communicative competence can ever be achieved without a considerable mastery of the grammar of a language.

Time: Theoretical basis Essay-transla -tion approach (Before 1950s) (No TB; intuition and experience)

Measurement Components of of test results tests Essay-writing Translation Grammatical Subjective analysis (qualitative)

Skills Writing, reading, grammar & usage, Oral & aural skills in later stages Phonology, Vocabulary, Grammar and skills separately

Aims Literary understanding of language/ (memory of language knowledge) Testing language skills separately in an objective manner (Emphasis:

Structuralistpsychometric approach
(1950s-1960s) (structuralist

Multiple -choice Objective (quantitative)

linguistics& behaviorist psychology)

form&structure )

Integrative approach
(1970searly1980s) psycholinguistics & sociolinguistics

Objective (quantitative) & subjective (qualitative)

Cloze test Translation Oral interviews Composition writing

Communicative approach
(1980s-now) (communicative syllabus)

Objective Real life tasks (quantitative) & subjective (qualitative)

All skills Testing the integratively language skills in context including all language skills (Empahsis: meaning) All skills and Communicative areas both skills in integratively context(Emphsi and separately s: language use--- how people use language for different purpuses)

1.3. Areas of interest in language testing 1.3.1. Test method effect Test method: the way in which language or knowledge of language is elicited from a test taker. Test methods may be characterized as varying along a continuum from direct to semi-direct to indirect, according to the relationship between the test task and authentic language use. In testing speaking, for example, an oral proficiency interview (direct) involves face-to-face interaction of the test taker with one or more other persons; a tape-based test (semi-direct) may require the test taker to produce spoken responses to spoken or written stimuli; whereas an indirect test may require the test taker to identify samples of language that would be contextually appropriate or grammatically correct in speech, without actually producing any spoken language. Different test methods produce different information about test takers. Within a particular test, a number of facets or aspects of a test method (such as item type or response mode) may affect a test taker?s performance. Test method effect: Any aspect of the method used to obtain evidence of language ability which may have a significant impact on the picture of the ability emerging from the test. For example, speaking skills may be in a one-to-one interview

or in group interaction; writing may be assessed by an essay, or by a cloze test. Task characteristics normally replicate where possible the actual use of the target language in the relevant target language use situation; they thus cover the area traditionally dealt with under content validity. However, artificial methods of response(for example, multiple-choice format) may be required because of test administrative constraints, and it is then important to consider the impact of the method on scores. The effect of the test method may account more substantially for differences in test-taker performance than do real differences in ability. For instances, scores derived from two multiple-choice test of grammar and a writing sample judged for grammatical accuracy; it would be reasonable to conclude that the multiple-choice method used was principally assessing ability to answer that kind of item. These kinds of differences in test method generate systematic measurement error. Additional characteristics of the test method used may also influence test-taker performance. These include aspects of the testing situation (e.g. Physical conditions, time of administration, equipment used), test rubric( e.g. organization of the test, time allowed, the nature of the instructions given), the input given to the test taker(e.g. channel of presentation, design, nature of language, constraints on response, background knowledge requirements), and the test taker?s level of familiarity with the test method. Differences associated with these kinds of test characteristics lead to random measurement error. 1.3.2. Test analysis Data from test trials are analysed during the test development process to evaluate individual items (their difficulty and discrimination, for example) as well as the reliability and validity of the test as a whole. Test analysis is also carried out following test administrations in order to allow the reporting of results. Test analysis may also be conducted for research purposes. Generally speaking ,there are two kinds of test analysis: quantitative modes of assessment(methods of or approaches to statistical analysis) and qualitative modes of assessment analysis(the content of a test may be analysed and reviewed as part of the process of establishing content validity). Among the most important quantitative modes of assessment are item response theory , generalizability theory and criterion-referenced measurement, etc. Introspection, interview and questionnaire are the most common qualitative modes of assessment. 1.3.3. Test taker characteristics A wide range of variables, any of which may significantly influence test performance, hence produce measurement error and affect the validity of an assessement. These may include language background, age, sex, educational background, background knowledge, affective reactions to test taking, level of proficiency in the target language and familiarity with the test method. During test trialling or test validation studies it is generally important to identify trial subjects who are representative of the target test population, rather than simply locating a convenient group of non-native (or native speakers of the target language) 1.3.4 Nature of language proficiency

One of the major preoccupations of language testers in the past decade has been investigating the nature of language proficiency. In 1980 the “unitary competence hypothesis” (Oller, 1979), which claimed that language proficiency consists of a single, global ability was widely accepted. By 1983 this view of language proficiency had been challenged by several empirical studies and abandoned by its chief proponent (Oller, 1983). The unitary trait view has been replaced, through both empirical research and theorizing, by the view that language proficiency is multicomponential, consisting of a number of interrelated specific abilities as well as a general ability or set of general strategies or procedures. Skehan and Alderson both suggest that the model of language test performance proposed by Bachman (1990b) represents progress in this area, since it includes both components of language ability and characteristics of test methods, thereby making it possible “to make statements about actual performance as well as underlying abilities” While the Based on the divisibility hypothesis of language proficiency, Bachman (1990) brings forward a structural different view on communicative competence, that is, communicative language ability . Bachman's (1990) theory of communicative language ability incorporates many components such as context of situation, knowledge structures, language competence, strategic competence, and psychophysiological mechanisms. Therefore, to be fully communicative a user of the language must not only know what all these components involve, but also be able to integrate and apply them appropriately. In language competence, the components are organizational competence, which includes both grammatical and discourse (or textual) competence, and pragmatic competence, which includes both sociolinguistic and illocutionary competence. Grammatical competence includes the knowledge of the lexicon, syntax and semantics, or words and rules in general. Discourse competence is concerned with the cohesion and coherence of utterances in a discourse or cohesion and coherence in general. Illocutionary competence incorporates knowledge of the resources and conventions for performing acceptable language functions. Sociolinguistic competence incorporates knowledge of sociolinguistic conventions to perform language functions appropriately in a given context. Strategic competence means appropriate use of communication strategies especially when communication fails, which is an important part of all communicative language use, not just that in which language abilities are deficient and must be compensated for by other means. In Bachman?s definition strategic competence has three components: assessment, planning and execution. psychophysiological mechanisms refer to the psychophysiological process of constructing meaning or function with the focus on meaning, in which we can

distinguish the visual from the auditory channel and the productive from the receptive skill.

1.4 A Survey of the current large-scale English language tests at home and abroad
PETS 1-5 (Public English Test System) CET4, CET6 (College English Tests) TEM4, TEM8 (Test for English Majors) TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) IELTS (International English Language Testing System)

Test

Listen ing √ √ √ √

Speak ing √ √ * √**

Read ing √ √ √ √

Writing √ √ √ √**

Translation

Item Type Varied

PETS CET TEM TOEFL

√ √

Varied Varied MultipleCho ice Question Varied

IELTS









Components of Communicative Language Ability in Communicative Language Use
(Bachman, 1990, p. 85)

KNOWLEDGE STRUCTURES
Knowledge of the world

LANGUAGE COMPETENCE
Knowledge of language

STRATEGIC COMPETENCE

PSYCHOPHYSIOLOGICAL MECHANISMS CONTEXT OF SITUATION

1

Communicative language ability Knowledge structures Strategic competence Psychophysiological mechanisms Context of situation Language competence
Organizational
Grammatical v m s p/g c Textual r i Illocutionary m h i

Language competence

Pragmatic
Sociolinguistic s s s c

37

?

Language use goal

situational assessment

planninglanguage process competence plan execution psychophysiological mechanisms

utterance

38


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