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ASSESSING ENGLISH AS A LINGUA FRANCA

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  25 October 2006

Abstract

This chapter proposes two alternative models for assessing English as a Lingua Franca (ELF). Tests based on the first model resemble existing approaches to assessing English as a foreign language offered by such tests as TOEFL, and IELTS. This model assumes that interlocutors use varieties of English based on Standard English. What distinguishes tests of this model from existing international tests of English is that it explicitly allows test accommodations. Such accommodations modify the test delivery system in order to make it accessible and fair for ELF users without changing the construct. Tests based on the second model assume that ELF may be regarded not as a use of Standard English but as a code in its own right. Similarities to varieties of World Englishes such as Singapore English, Indian English are noted. In tests based on the second model, strategic competence takes precedence over linguistic accuracy. Although both models are somewhat problematic in practice, neither, it is argued, entails any radical reconceptualization of language testing beyond what has already been envisaged and/or enacted in the field. Nevertheless, future tests of ELF may have both symbolic and practical importance, giving greater authority and legitimacy to expanding and outer circle English voices on the one hand and giving flesh to definitions of effective intercultural communication on the other. The chapter concludes by cautioning against moving too quickly to assess ELF before it has been properly described.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2006 Cambridge University Press

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Footnotes

The authors wish to acknowledge the contribution of Liz Hamp-Lyons to our thinking about this chapter.

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