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9 - Testing Language Aptitude

A Commentary on Batteries and Reanalysis of Constructs

from Part II - Aptitude Testing of Diverse Groups

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  27 May 2023

Zhisheng (Edward) Wen
Affiliation:
Hong Kong Shue Yan University
Peter Skehan
Affiliation:
Institute of Education, University of London
Richard L. Sparks
Affiliation:
Mount St Joseph University
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Summary

The present chapter has two general aims. The first is to survey the range of aptitude batteries and sub-tests that are discussed in the literature, and then to explore how they relate to one another and what emphases each of them contains. To achieve this, the various sub-tests will be located in terms of two dimensions: whether they are domain-specific or domain-general, and whether they require implicit or explicit processes and learning. In addition, how the different domains of sound, working memory, processing, language and learning are handled in each of the sub-tests will be explored. The second aim is to explore what insights aptitude tests might contribute to theorizing about the nature of second language learning. The different theoretical accounts will be examined, and then existing aptitude tests will be related to them, indicating clear coverage in some areas, and not very much in others. Overall, it is argued that aptitude work, viewed in this way, should be central to second language acquisition and reveal how we can understand and predict it.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2023

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