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Title: Comparing proficiency levels in an assessment context : the construct of reading for secondary school learners of German Japanese and Urdu in England
Author: Ashton, K.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2009
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Abstract:
‘Can do’ statements are commonly used, and are being promoted for wider adoption (see Council of Europe, 2008), in educational assessment to describe the level of a learner’s reading proficiency. However, there is no research as to how, or whether, such ‘can do’ frameworks can be applied to all languages, particularly non-Latin script or community languages. The majority of research in this area has focused on learners of English, although the few single language research studies undertaken indicate that reading in languages like Japanese and Urdu requires different processing strategies from reading in alphabetic languages such as German for learners with English as their first language. Existing research has also failed to relate findings to proficiency level, making it impossible to compare findings across studies. This thesis employs a mixed-methods approach, using self-assessment ‘can do’ surveys and think-aloud protocols, to compare the reading proficiency of secondary school learners of German, Japanese and Urdu in England. Findings show that the same three factors best represent learners’ understanding of reading proficiency across all three languages. However, there are also strong differences. For example, the difficulty of script acquisition in Japanese impacts on learners’ understanding of the construct, while learners of both Japanese and Urdu were unable to scan texts in the way learners of German were able to. Urdu learners under-related their ability, not taking into account the wide range of natural contexts in which they use Urdu outside the classroom. The data also illustrates how Urdu learners use their spoken knowledge of Urdu as a resource when reading. Finally, this research demonstrates that the construct of reading in the National Curriculum for Modern Foreign Languages is not endorsed by any of the learner groups, which is worrying for language education and assessment within England.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.596187  DOI: Not available
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