Investigating examiner interventions in relation to the listening demands they make on candidates in oral interview tests
second language listening
Q330 English as a second language
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Other TitlesEmerging issues in the assessment of second language listening
AbstractExaminers intervene in second language oral interviews in order to elicit intended language functions, to probe a candidate’s proficiency level or to keep the interaction going. Interventions of this kind can affect the candidate’s output language and score, since the candidate is obliged to process them as a listener and respond to them as a speaker. This chapter reports on a study that examined forty audio-recorded interviews of the oral test of a major European examination board, with a view to examining examiner interventions (i.e., questions, comments) in relation to the listening demands they make upon candidates. Half of the interviews involved candidates who scored highly on the test while the other half featured low-scoring candidates. This enabled a comparison of the language and behaviour of the same examiner across candidate proficiency levels, to see how they were modified in response to the communicative competence of the candidate. The recordings were transcribed and analyzed with regard to a) types of examiner intervention in terms of linguistic and pragmatic features and b) the extent to which the interventions varied in response to the proficiency level of the candidate. The study provides a new insight into examiner-examinee interactions, by identifying how examiners are differentiating listening demands according to the task types and the perceived proficiency level of the candidate. It offers several implications about the ways in which examiner interventions engage candidates’ listening skills, and the ways in which listening skills can be more validly and reliably measured when using a format based on examiner-candidate interaction.
CitationNakatsuhara F (2018) 'Investigating examiner interventions in relation to the listening demands they make on candidates in oral interview tests', in Wagner E, Ockey G (ed(s).). Emerging issues in the assessment of second language listening: John Benjamins.
SponsorsThis research was funded by Trinity College London, and carried out under the Trinity Funded Research Programme.
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