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Discourse and assessment

By Tim McNamara, Kathryn Hill and Lynette A. May


Many contemporary currents in applied linguistics have favored discourse studies within assessment; there have been calls for cross-fertilization with other areas within applied linguistics, critiques of the positivist tradition within language testing research, and the growing impact of Conversation Analysis (CA) and sociocultural theory. This chapter focuses on the resulting increase in discourse-based studies of oral proficiency assessment techniques. These studies initially focused on the traditional oral proficiency interview but have since been extended to new test formats, including paired and group interaction. We discuss the research carried out on a number of factors in the assessment setting, including the role of the interlocutor, candidate, and rater, and the impact of tasks, task performance conditions, and rating criteria. Recent research has also concentrated more specifically on the assessment of pragmatic competence and on the applications of technology within the assessment of spoken language, including the comparability of semidirect and direct methods for such assessment and the use of computer corpora

Topics: 200401 Applied Linguistics and Educational Linguistics, discourse analysis, speaking tests, oral proficiency assessment, conversation analysis
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1017/S0267190502000120
OAI identifier: oai:eprints.qut.edu.au:26547
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