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The Measurement of Foreign/Second Language Proficiency

Lyle F. Bachman and John L. D. Clark
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 490, Foreign Language Instruction: A National Agenda (Mar., 1987), pp. 20-33
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1045233
Page Count: 14
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The Measurement of Foreign/Second Language Proficiency
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Abstract

Based on and synthesizing recent advances in both psychometric procedures and communicatively oriented linguistic analysis, a theoretical framework for describing factors affecting performance on foreign/second language tests is presented. Included within this framework are both test method factors-such as the testing environment, the nature of the instructions to the examinee, and the stimulus and response modalities represented in the test-and linguistic factors, including the examinee's organizational and pragmatic competence, strategic competence, and psychophysiological skills involved in the proper reception or production of the test language. Implications of the framework for the development and validation of communicative language proficiency tests are discussed and an action plan is suggested, including further refinement of the theoretical framework; development of large-scale, highly authentic criterion measures operationalizing each of the framework factors; and subsequent validation of both existing and to-be-developed practically oriented communicative proficiency tests against the criterion measures. Establishment of a working group of interested individuals from several institutions and disciplinary areas is proposed as an appropriate administrative vehicle for these activities.

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