Establishing difficulty level consistency across texts in exams at four levels using lexical profiling
Author: Dr Daniel Waller University of Central Lancashire, Britain
Tania Horak University of Central Lancashire, Britain
& Sharon Tyrell
Abstract: This research looked at investigating the consistency of difficulty across the four levels of exams (B1, B2, C1, C2 as per the CEFR) which have been developed by the exams team at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). This was completed using two measures of difficulty: readability and word frequency i.e. the research undertook lexical profiling. Results were compared to similar results from Cambridge ESOL exams (Khalifa and Weir 2007) at the equivalent CEFR levels. In addition, this research project aimed to create a database to use as the basis for future benchmarking to improve future exam production. In this initial stage of the project, only the Reading sections of the exams were analysed. Practical implications for exam development conclude the article.
Keywords: lexical profiling, readability, language testing, word frequency, CEFR
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Washback and CLT
Author: Dr Melissa Barnes
Monash University (Melbourne, Australia)
Abstract: Realizing the social consequences involved in language testing, many researchers have attempted to investigate ‘washback’, or the influence of testing on teaching and learning. While it is widely acknowledged that the nature of washback is dependent on context (Burrows, 2004; Shih, 2010; Shohamy, Donitsa-Schmidt, & Ferman, 1996), the very definition of washback is problematic due to its reliance on what constitutes ‘good’ teaching and learning practices which can differ from one educational context to another. To determine whether a test has had a positive washback effect on teaching and learning, one must identify the characteristics that constitute positive washback, which is likely to espouse a preferred teaching paradigm. This article argues that the majority of washback studies to date suggest that positive and negative washback are defined by the presence or absence of Communicative Language Teaching (CLT). The findings from an empirical investigation into the washback of the Test of English as a Foreign Language Internet-Based Test (TOEFL iBT) in a Vietnamese context raises the need to rethink how washback is defined.
Key Words:Key terms: Washback, English as a Foreign Language, Communicative Language Teaching, Internet-Based Test
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Teachers’ Perceptions of the Teaching of English to Non-English Undergraduates at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences in Rabat
Author: Abdellatif Al Ghadi, Nada Biddou, Asmae Boukanouf
Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences,
Mohammed V University in Rabat, Morocco
Abstract: This paper is part of a larger project which examines the teaching of English to non-English majors at the Faculty of Letters and Human Sciences, Rabat. Starting from the official objectives set on Law 01.00, the implementation of these objectives at the level of the Cahier des Normes Pédagogiques Nationales (Book of Pedagogical Guidelines), to the teachers’ practices in the classroom, the teaching of English to non-English majors suffers of many shortcomings: definition of clear objectives, content and teaching methodology, human resources, logistics, and the degree of readiness and motivation of the students themselves. This paper deals with the human resources aspect of the problem, namely the teachers themselves, the way they conceive of their mission, how prepared they are to accomplish it, and their perceptions of the challenges before them. Current teachers of English to non-English majors have been asked to fill in a questionnaire devised to this end. Results show that while the surveyed teachers’ attitude towards their teaching of English is in general moderately positive, they see the students’ readiness and behavior as major obstacles to an effective teaching. Their opinion of the content is evenly split between positive and negative. ....
Key WordsTeachers’ attitudes, Language and Communication, Higher Education, Non-English majors.
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To Teach or Not to Teach Grammar: a Controversy?
Author: Dr Leila Lakhoua, Arab Open University,
Sultanate of Oman
Abstract: With the advent of the Communicative Approach in ELT, grammar has been marginalized as the focus has shifted from accuracy to communicative competence. Yet an obvious decline in written proficiency has been noticed due basically to poor grammar. If a high written proficiency is required at the academic level, could this be achieved without grammar instruction in the foreign language? This paper will investigate this issue by addressing the following questions: To Teach or Not to Teach Grammar: a Controversy? In fact the ebb and flow of the attitudes for or against grammar teaching have been influenced by the changes in language teaching methods and approaches. For grammar proponents, it may be inconceivable to teach a foreign language without teaching its grammar. But for grammar opponents, it can be argued that one can learn a foreign language without learning its grammar. The latter view a foreign language as a skill to be acquired through use not through grammar rules. This paper will discuss these different attitudes and focus on the importance of grammar in view of the latest ELT approaches. ...
Key Wordsthe Communicative Approach, communicative competence, language teaching methods, English as a foreign language
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Teaching English as a foreign language today integrated approach versus communicative approach
Author: Dr Anny Joukoulian, The Lebanese University
Abstract: Discovering the methodology that suits your students best is the most important element in the process of teaching especially when it comes to teaching English as a foreign language. With the phenomenal introduction of the communicative approach, the traditional approach has occupied a relatively lower status in most of the language classes. This paper aims at showing that an amalgam of approaches is better than adopting one single approach. Experience and practice have shown that employing both the communicative approach and the traditional approach is more effective and efficient. While the communicative approach provides learners with the cultural context of the target language, the traditional approach introduces the functions of language and its structure mainly grammar. In most of my classrooms, teaching grammar and sentence structure has proved to be fundamental and essential since the grammar and sentence structure of Arabic (the native language) is different from that of English (the target foreign language). Hence, to improve the quality of teaching and to gain better results, the two approaches should be used. The paper also gives a brief overview of the historical background of the two teaching approaches and highlights the most important advantages and disadvantages involved in implementing the communicative and traditional approaches. . ....
Key Words: communicative approach, traditional approach, grammar, structure, culture, context.
Download link:Article 5 (PDF)