Language Testing and English as an International Language Constraints and Contributions

Elder, Catherine and Harding, Luke (2008) Language Testing and English as an International Language Constraints and Contributions. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 31 (3). 34.1-34.11. ISSN 0155-0640

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Clyne and Sharifian (“C & S”) make special reference to English language testers in the conclusion of their paper, describing them (along with English language teachers) as “gatekeepers” of the English language. The authors suggest that these groups “need to explore and implement, in fundamental ways, the implications of the current and future situations of the complexity of English as an international language.” More specifically, they argue that, "The expanding pluricentricity of English needs to be reflected in ELT materials, which currently lean towards either American or British English (and to a much lesser extent Australian English), under-representing other varieties. Language testing needs also to be informed by the unprecedented growth of variation in the norms of international communication (e.g. Canagarajah, 2006; Elder and Davies, 2006). Furthermore, the contents of language tests ought to correspond with the functions for which the testees will employ the language (see Zafar Khan, 2009). In many contexts, people who take language tests such as IELTS and TOEFL use English for intercultural communication, often in the absence of "native" speakers. In such cases, we believe the test should try to evaluate intercultural communicative skills instead of obsessively testing the “inner circle” Englishes."

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Journal Article
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Australian Review of Applied Linguistics
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16 May 2012 10:38
Last Modified:
21 Nov 2022 22:16