EUROCALL 2014

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Investigating the Effects of Summary Writing on Oral Proficiency Performance Within a Computer-based Test for Integrated Listening-speaking Tasks

The effective design of items within computer-based language test (CBLT) for developing EFL learners’ listening and speaking skills has become an increasingly challengeable task for both test users and test designers compared with that in pencil-and-paper tests in the past, for it needs to fit integrated oral proficiency tasks into the framework of quantitative psychometric testing mode, and also needs to meet higher demands of test takers living in today’s digitized world.

Anxiety in the process of any test is an unavoidable psychological factor distracting test takers from their performance and usually affects their test results, therefore, the test designers need to take it into fully consideration and try to minimize its negative effects. Classroom observations show that test takers tend to become more anxious in listening-speaking tests, and conducting computerized integrated listening-speaking tasks can be even more challengeable. Since the transient nature of memory is the main factor that causes anxiety in listening tests, if short-term retention is taken into account in CBLT item design, then testees’ anxiety could be reduced in some degree so as to gain test validity to the most extent. Summary writing, a content-based item, is beginning to gain its popularity in language testing. It can be used to simultaneously test two or more language skills: listening and writing, or reading and writing. However, there are not many researches done concerning the issue, neither can we find the combination of summary writing with listening-based integrated tasks, nor in the process of conducting oral productive task in classroom practice.

The goal of this study is to see if summary writing in integrated listening-speaking tasks is beneficial to test takers for decreasing their anxiety in the follow-up speaking task. The research mainly addresses the following questions: Is there a positive correlation between the test scores of summary writing and the follow-up oral productive task─personal statement? Is summary writing helpful to test takers in short-term retention, thus decreasing their anxiety?

This study is an ongoing research. A ten-week experiment is to be carried out in the upcoming spring semester in an English audio-video speaking class by the second author in a digital language lab. To measure the effects, pre- and post tests along with follow-up surveys will be carried out. The integrated listening-speaking test design is as follows: the students will be firstly given a video/audio-based listening material and the media will be played several times, during which the students are required to conduct several listening comprehensive items which include: short-answer questions, multiple choices, true or false, and dictation, then comes the summary writing of the same material in given time, and the one following up is one-minute personal statement about the same media. All the students’ written texts and their oral performance can be collected and recorded for the analysis of this study.

This study intends to give a new insight into bridging CBLT, anxiety,and short-term retention and make a contribution to the innovation of CBLT item design, further enhancing the test validity.

Author(s):

Yanfei Wang    
Foreign Language Department, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications(BUPT)
China

Yanfei Wang is currently pursuing her M.A. degree in Applied Linguistics in Foreign language Department, School of Humanities, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications(BUPT), China, registered in 2012. Her research interests include computer-assisted language learning, Sociolinguistics.

Zhihong Lu    
Foreign Language Department, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications(BUPT)
China

Zhihong Lu is a professor and dean of Foreign language Department, School of Humanities, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications (BUPT), Chair of academic committee board of the school; course manager for “College English” of the university. Courses instructed: English audio-video speaking course (for undergraduates), language testing and sociolinguistics (for graduates). Research covers EFL teaching research & CALL course development.

Qian Li    
Foreign Language Department, School of Humanities and Social Sciences
Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications(BUPT)
China

Qian Li is currently pursuing her M.A. degree in Applied Linguistics in Foreign language Department, School of Humanities, Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications(BUPT), China, registered in 2011. Her research interests include computer-assisted language learning, Sociolinguistics.

 

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