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WEEK 4: LANGUAGE TESTING: APPROACHES AND This approach involves the testing of language in

TECHNIQUES context and is thus concerned primarily with


meaning and the total communicative effect of
A. 4 MAIN APPROACHES TO LANGUAGE TESTING discourse.
Integrative tests are concerned with a global view
1. The Essay-Translation Approach of proficiency.
Integrative testing involves functional language
a. Characteristics and Types of Tests in Essay- but not the use of functional language.
Translation Approach: The use of cloze test, dictation, oral interview,
This approach is commonly referred to as the pre- translation and essay writing are included in many
scientific stage of language testing. integrative tests.
No special skill or expertise in testing is required.
Tests usually consist of essay writing, translation, and b. Strengths of Integrative Approach
grammatical analysis. The approach to meaning and the total
Tests have a heavy literary and cultural bias. communicative effect of discourse will be very
Public examinations resulting from the tests using useful for students in testing.
this approach sometimes have an oral component This approach can view students proficiency with
at the upper immediate and advance levels. a global view.
A model cloze test used in this approach measures
b. Strengths of Essay-Translation Approach the readers ability to decode interrupted or
This approach is easy to follow because teachers mutilated messages by making the most
will simply use their subjective judgment. acceptable substitutions from all the contextual
The essay-translation approach may be used for clues available.
testing any level of examinee. Dictation, another type using this approach, was
The model of tester can easily be modified based regarded solely as a means of measuring students
on the essentials of the tests. skills of listening comprehension.

c. Weaknesses of Essay-Translation Approach c. Weaknesses of Integrative Approach


Subjective judgment of teachers tends to be Even if many think that measuring integrated skills is
biased. better, sometimes there is a need to consider the
As mentioned, the tests have a heavy literary and importance of measuring skills based on students
cultural bias. need, such as writing only, speaking only, etc.

2. The Structuralist Approach


4. The Communicative Approach
a. Characteristics and Types of Tests of the
Structuralist Approach: a. Characteristics and types of tests of
This approach views that language learning is Communicative Approach:
chiefly concerned with a systematic acquisition of Communicative tests are concerned primarily
a set of habits. with how language is used in communication.
The structuralist approach involves structural Language use is often emphasized to the
linguistics which stresses the importance of exclusion of language usage.
constructive analysis and the need to identify and The attempt to measure different language skills in
measure the learners mastery of the separate communicative tests is based on a view of
elements of the target language such as language referred to as divisibility hypothesis.
phonology, vocabulary, and grammar. The test content should totally be relevant for a
Testing the skills of listening, speaking, reading, and particular group of examinees and the tasks set
writing is separate from another as much as should relate to real-life situation.
possible. Communicative testing introduces the concept of
They psychometric approach to measurement with qualitative modes of assessment in preference to
its emphasis on reliability and objectivity forms an quantitative modes of assessment.
integral part of structuralist testing.
b. Strengths of Communicative Approach:
b. Strengths of Structuralist Approach Communicative tests are able to measure all
In testing students capability, this approach may integrated skills of the students.
objectively and surely be used by testers. The tests using this approach face students in real
Many forms of tests can be covered in the test in a life so it will be very useful for them.
short time. Because a communicative test can measure all
Using this approach in testing will help students find language skills, it can help students in getting the
their strengths and weaknesses in every skill they score. Consider students who have a poor ability
study. in using spoken language but may score quite
highly on tests of reading.
c. Weaknesses of Structuralist Approach Detailed statements of each performance level
It tends to be a complicated job for teachers to serve to increase the reliability of the scoring by
prepare questionnaires using this approach. enabling the examiner to make decisions
This approach considers measuring non-integrated according to carefully drawn-up and well-
skills more than integrated skills. established criteria.

3. The Integrative Approach c. Weaknesses of Communicative Approach:


Unlike the structuralist approach, this approach
a. Characteristics and Types of Tests of Integrative does not emphasize learning structural grammar,
Approach: yet it may be difficult to achieve communicative
competence without a considerable mastery of of factors (creativity, style, cohesion and coherence,
the grammar of a language. grammar, and mechanics).
It is possible for cultural bias to affect the reliability
of the tests being administered.

B. TEST TECHNIQUES

1. Direct versus Indirect Testing

Direct Testing is when it requires the candidate to perform


precisely the skill that test wishes to measure. It has also a
number of attractions:

1. Provided the abilities that should be assessed is


clear, it is relatively straightforward to create the
conditions which will elicit the behaviour on which
judgment will be based.
2. In the case of the productive skill, the assessment
and interpretations of students performance are
also quite straightforward.
3. Since practice for the test involves practice of the
skills to foster, there is likely to be a helpful
backwash effect.

Indirect Testing attempts to measure the abilities that


underlie the skills in which the test is interested.

Semi-Direct is in the sense that, although not direct, they


simulate direct testing.

2. Discrete Point versus Integrative testing

Discrete A completely discrete point item would test one


point or objective such as testing for the meaning of a
word in isolation.

Discrete point testing refers to the testing of one element


at a time, item by item.

Integrative testing requires the candidate to combine


many language elements in the completion of a task.

Discrete point tests will almost always be indirect, while


integrative tests will tend to be direct.

Diagnostic tests of grammar will tend to be discrete.

Integrative test refers to an integrative item that would test


more than one point or objective at a time.

3. Norm-referenced versus Criterion-referenced


testing

Norm-Referenced students scores are interpreted


relative to each other in a normal distribution scheme (bell
curve).

Criterion-Referenced measure student ability against a


predetermined standard.

- most commonly used by teachers


in language courses.

It is in order to foster reflection on the possible uses of norm-


referenced tests (NRT) and criterion-referenced tests (CRT).

4. Objective versus Subjective Testing

If, no judgment is required on the part of the scorer, the


scoring is objective.

If judgment is called for, the scoring is said to be subjective.

Objective test there is only one right answer.

Subjective test refers to a free composition, the scorer is


not looking for any one right answer, but rather for a series