Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A three-dimensional understanding of communicative language ability 1/7

September 8, 2007
JACET 46th Annual Convention
in Yasuda Women’s College,
Hiroshima, Japan


JACET symposium

English Education at the Tertiary Level
– in Search of a Consistent Curriculum from Elementary School through University



Consistency and Diversity
-- A good understanding rather than a good test?--




Yosuke YANASE
Hiroshima University



0 OUTLINE OF TODAY’S PRESENTATION

0.1 BACKGROUND
0.2 RESEARCH QUESTION
0.3 REVIEW
0.4 SOLUTION
0.5 CONCLUSION



1 BACKGROUND

1.1 Concept > Construct > Operational Definition > Measurement


Consistency should NOT mean the dominance of a paper-based standardized test because no paper-based test can capture the whole range of language knowledge and use. (Tests are only educated guesses of hypothetical constructs)

1.2 Understanding involves something immeasurable

Even a General English Proficiency Test may distort our understanding of communicative language ability because it only deals with readily measurable aspects of language and use.
Our understanding of second language communication goes beyond the notion of measurement.


"Oh, so you're not interested in communication, only language." (McNamara, 1996, p. 83)

The dog (our understanding) should wag the tail (a test).

Not the tail wagging the dog.



1.3 Education is more than measurable “objective” and contains immeasurable “aim”


“By objectives I mean the pedagogic intentions of a particular course of study to be achieved within the period of that course and in principle measurable by some assessment device at the end of the course” … “By aims I mean the purposes to which learning will be put after the end of the course.” (Widdowson, 1983, pp.6-7)


1.4 My contention

A good understanding of communicative language ability is more important than a good standardized test.


1.5 Expected results

A good understanding of communicative language ability would bring a good balance between consistency and diversity in curriculum.

Without it, English language education would end in uniformity and conformity, or in complete chaos.

Uniformity and conformity, particularly when harnessed by a standardized test, suppresses creativity and motivation of teachers and students.

Furthermore, neglecting diversity is to deny the different needs of different departments and colleges.

2 comments:

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