Assessing Listening (Cambridge Language Assessment)

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Perhaps we need to focus more on this end of the spectrum to reflect the communicative teaching we use in our classes?

The problem, however, is that no matter how communicative our teaching methods might be, applying this to test design is a tricky matter. What would a communicative test look like? A key feature which is often pointed to is the authenticity of the listening input. But in order to make sure a test is reliable and valid we often need to control or adapt this input for the test-taker.


We might also consider making the tasks the test-taker needs to complete as close to a real world skill as possible. But few real world tasks lend themselves to easy or consistent marking. Gary Buck has reached the conclusion that a truly communicative listening test is probably more of a holy grail than something which is truly achievable in practice.

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Instead, he says:. What we need to try to do then is strike a balance to design a test which is practical while at the same time giving us an idea about how the student would fare in an authentic situation. A gap-fill, for instance, may not be the most realistic task imaginable, but we can provide the test-taker with relatively authentic listening input and the gaps can be designed to replicate a note-taking task which mirrors a real world skill. Another issue arises when considering that skills in the real world are rarely, if ever, used in isolation, but are integrated to lead to communicative goals.

Listening, for example is often tested, albeit indirectly, when testing speaking as these skills obviously go hand in hand.

ERIC/CLL Resources for ESL Assessment

Dictation, particularly, is one type of listening assessment task where the integration of writing and listening is patently clear. Prior to the inclusion of recorded material in teaching resources, dictation was virtually the only way to provide students with listening input.

Also variations on it, such as dictogloss see reference to Wajnryb , are commonly used for the teaching of grammar. All communities have speech but not all languages even now have writing, which emerged only a few thousand years ago. Speaking and writing have similar functions but writing as a new cultural technology production of texts had a powerful impact on cognition, communication, schooling, societal and cultural development.

The archetype of human communication is face-to-face oral interaction.

Assessing Listening Comprehension in a Reading Evaluation

Advances in information technology have narrowed the original fundamental distance between written and oral communication by allowing writing to simulate in many ways on-line face-to-face oral communication. In face-to-face oral communication, listening comprehension is closely integrated with speaking. While listening and reading comprehension share a number of features, listening poses some specific challenges, which arguably makes it harder to assess listening than reading comprehension. Several taxonomies of listening have been presented over the past fifty year listing a varying number of abilities involved in listening comprehension.

They indicate that it is necessary to pay attention to the role of the spoken input text text types , the listener skills and knowledge resources , the context domains of language use and the purposes of listening.

Assessing Speaking

Other points regarding the input to consider are eg. As listening comprehension is often appraised by using tasks using questions and other types of items, it is important to be aware that the difficulty of the items varies and it can be purposefully manipulated by varying the text characteristics and the task characteristics.

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Background paper. Bachman I Charles Al Assessing Vocabulary Cambridge Language Assessment Assessing Listening Cambridge Language Assessment English for Specific Purposes Your name. Close Send.

Moving towards authenticity

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