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Crossing Boundaries

Studies in English Language, Literature, and Culture in a Global Environment

Edited By Richard Nordquist

The articles in this volume were originally presented in spring 2009 at an international conference hosted by the Institute of Germanic and Romance Languages and Cultures at Tallinn University in Estonia. The theme of «crossing boundaries» is reflected in the rich mix of genres, cultures, applications, and critical theories considered here. Indeed, these articles demonstrate that crossing boundaries can be a companionable journey as well an intellectually enriching experience.

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Ene Alas - Interviewer Variability in Oral Proficiency Interviews - 9

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9 Ene Alas INTERVIEWER VARIABILITY IN ORAL PROFICIENCY INTERVIEWS The use of oral interviews to measure foreign language proficiency has been an inseparable part of the national examination in the English language in Estonia. Last year, in 2008, a new format was introduced for the interviewers during the examination along with a new marking scale. The author of the current article was instrumental in developing and launching the new format. The aim of such action was to increase the reliability of scoring by first, standardising the interview pro- cedure and second, by utilising a clearer, though more detailed, marking scale. The article below will discuss interviewer behaviour during the oral proficiency interviews of the national examination in the English language in Estonia, relying on the results of a questionnaire study carried out among the interviewers/raters of the national examination regarding their own and student behaviour during the national examination interview. Background to the Study It is inevitable that language testing tools, in our case national examination oral proficiency testing techniques, are constantly reviewed in keeping with the in- crease in our knowledge about language teaching and language testing. One of the main considerations in language testing is that ‘it is important that the techniques used should interfere as little as possible with the (skill) itself, and they should not add a significantly difficult task on top of [the skill tested]’ (Hughes 143). Unfor- tunately, until last year, this problem of interference seemed to be the case in the speaking...

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