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Measuring Oral Proficiency through Paired-Task Performance


Ildikó Csépes

This book intends to provide a theoretical overview of examining candidates’ oral abilities in different examination formats. In particular, it explores specific partner effects on discourse outcomes and proficiency ratings in the framework of paired-task performance. Two investigations, both set in the context of a proposed Hungarian school leaving examination in English, were carried out in order to contribute to a better understanding of the assumed impact of the chosen variables. Study One investigates discourse differences between examiner-to-examinee interaction and peer-to-peer interaction. Study Two explores the impact of the peer partner’s proficiency. The results show that partner effects related to this variable cannot be predicted as either harmful or beneficial since no statistically significant difference was found between 30 candidates’ scores in different examination conditions.


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Table of Contents


Acknowledgements 11 1. Introduction 13 1.1. The aim of the study 13 1.2. The Hungarian context 13 1.3. The structure of the book 16 2. From Competence to Performance 19 2.1. Introduction 19 2.2. Modelling language knowledge and performance 20 2.2.1. The 1960s and 1970s 20 2.2.2. The 1980s 21 2.2.3. The 1990s 23 2.3. Towards a framework for oral language proficiency 26 2.4. Investigating variability in oral proficiency testing 32 2.4.1. The oral interview 32 The face-to-face oral proficiency interview 33 The semi-direct oral proficiency interview 36 Examiner-interlocutor variability 40 Examiner-interlocutor's behaviour 41 Examiner-interlocutor's individual characteristics 43 Variability related to test taker characteristics 45 Rater variability in the OPI 47 2.4.2. The paired and group oral 49 General issues in group testing 49 Empirical research into paired and group orals 52 2.4.3. Test tasks 59 Inter-task variability 60 Intra-task variability 60 Task difficulty 62 3. Study One 65 3.1. Introduction 65 3.2. Styles of dyadic interaction 65 3.3. Research questions 66 7 3.4. Method 67 3.4.1. The data 67 3.4.2. Analysis 67 Interactional contingency 69 Rights and duties of the speakers 70 Dominance 70 3.5. Results and discussion 71 3.6. Discussion and conclusion 76 4. The Design of Study Two 79 4.1. Introduction 79 4.2. Main research question 79 4.3. Research design 80 4.3.1. The subjects 80 4.3.2. The tasks 83 4.4. Data collection 84 4.4.1. Subject selection 84 4.4.2. Schedule for data collection...

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