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Title: Language and testing and interlanguage
Author: El-Shikhani, May Emile
ISNI:       0000 0004 2671 6058
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2008
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This dissertation studies the interface between second language testing (SLT) and second language acquisition (SLA) as it applies to a general problem in language use: noted discrepancies between standardized test scores and local placement of University of Balamand (UOB) entrants. A series of empirically based studies were designed to highlight those factors which account for interlanguage as manifested in important aspects of verb grammar: choice of tense, use of tense sequences, subject-verb agreement, and irregular verb morphology, and to compare students' interlanguage(s) in that particular area of grammar with high versus low scores in target language English as measure of their proficiency. A Case Study was carried out on a low-intermediate proficiency level student as determined by UOB entrance test. Analysis was made of the student's choice of relevant grammatical forms in Lebanese-English interlanguage compared with native language Lebanese-Arabic, both in the domains of narration and description. A similar analysis was made of the student's use of the same grammatical forms on the placement exam task. Analysis of metacognitive strategies was also undertaken. Results showed that use of each grammatical form varied with the task rhetorical mode in the sense of converging with! diverging from what is taught. More importantly, the student's low proficiency was only reflected in the narration task, not in the description or placement exam taskThe Main Study was then undertaken on a sample of 28 students from the four DOB English proficiency levels. Primary data consisted of the students' writing on three tasks of different rhetorical modes: narration, exposition, and comparison-contrast. Secondary data consisted of verbal reports by the students, and comments by linguists and expert reviewers. The same method of the Case Study analysis was used. Quantitative results showed that the narration task had the most discriminating power; the comparison-contrast task had the least. A statistically significant difference was found between second language English and native language Arabic accuracy rate of students' use of grammatical structures. Qualitative results showed that both high and low proficiency groups lacked control over tense and tense sequences, but the high proficiency group had more control over 3rd person singular' -s' . In terms of SLA, the empirical study of verb grammar here presents a clearer understanding of multi competence. Consideration is given to the interface between SLT and SLA for the practical problem of finding the right type of test that would be a valid predictor of entrants' proficiency in English as a second language, thus leading to their placement at the right English language level.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available