Relating learner culture to performance on English speaking tests with interactive and non-interactive formats




Travers, Nicholas

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This thesis explores relations between learner culture, operationalized as degree of individualism/collectivism (I/C), and English-as-an-additional-language (EAL) speaking test performance with two test formats that differ in terms of interactiveness. Seven Korean participants’ speaking test performances with the two different formats were compared. Results did not differentiate the speaking test formats in terms of mean speaking test scores or gains. However, results supported the value of the interactive format – Dynamic Assessment (DA) – for discriminating between test-takers in terms of grammatical and lexical performance. This characteristic suggests DA’s potential effectiveness as a component of a formal speaking test, particularly for ongoing classroom testing and/or exit testing. I/C scores did not correlate significantly with scores on the two speaking test formats. However, qualitative analysis based on I/C scores identified differences in the ways that participants oriented themselves towards accuracy or task topics in corrective exchanges during DA tests. Participants’ email survey responses supported this analysis. These findings are commiserate with reports of accuracy focus in Korean educational culture. This link points to the value of future I/C research focusing on accuracy/task-focus orientations. To more reliably demonstrate relations between I/C and EAL performance, this study’s discussion describes a more direct I/C measurement approach.



Second language, Culture, Speaking tests