A Sentence Repetition Placement Test for ESL/EFL Learners in Japan

A Sentence Repetition Placement Test for ESL/EFL Learners in Japan

F. Sigmund Topor (Keio University, Japan)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6046-5.ch073
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Informed by psycholinguistics, an aspect of the theory of Communicative Competence, this chapter explores the predictive utility of a Sentence Repetition (Placement) Test (SRPT) for L1 Japanese English learners. A bivariate correlational analysis shows a positive correlation (r = .643) between scores on the listening segment of the TOEIC and those on a Sentence Repetition Placement Test. Data for the Sentence Repetition Placement Test was generated from university students and working professionals in Tokyo, Japan (N = 35; 25 men and 10 women). A valid Sentence Repetition Placement Test may provide the solution to ESL/EFL placement in Japan. Future research on Sentence Repetition Placement Test for ESL/EFL should address the relationship between the espoused ESL/EFL Communicative Competence objectives and policies to achieve those objectives. Within the current global environment, internal adjustments are clearly necessary to cope with external communicative demands.
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Background And Context

A speedy and efficient placement instrument is wanting in Japan. The TOEIC, which is extensively used for all purposes, does not identify learner’s communicative competence (Jinyan, & Finn, 2009). The current study was conducted to explore the existence of a positive, significant relationship between scores on the listening segment of the TOEIC and a Sentence Repetition Test (SRT) or Sentence Repetition Placement Test (SRPT). Note that SRT and SRPT are used interchangeable.

Language placement tests are designed to match learners to a specified curriculum (Brown, 1995). This is more significant when L1 has a greater linguistic distance from L2, as in Japanese and English. Japanese has a Subject-Object-Verb (SOV) structure (Kishimoto, 2010; Ochi, 2009), whereas the structure of English is Subject-Verb-Object (SVO). The phonological features of English qua pitch, stress, and other prosodic attributes, are of specific concern for L1 Japanese learners (Avery & Ehrlich, 2008). These features are absent from Japanese (Sanders, Neville, & Woldorff, 2002).

Accurate perception and production of English segmental sequences is often difficult for L1 Japanese (Kubozono, 1995). Because Japanese morphology is primarily restricted to a Consonant-Verb (CV) formation (Kubozono, 1995; Tamaoka & Makioka, 2009), L1 Japanese typically perceive an imaginary ending vowel for English phonemes. This epenthetic condition makes the perception of English utterance difficult and impedes comprehension. Indirect assessment has thus far failed to mitigate these hiccups (Chapman & Newfields, 2008; Childs, 1995).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Placement Test for ESL or EFL Learners: Assessment that tests the English language aptitude of learners for the purpose of placing them into the appropriate classes.

Rapid English Placement Test: A language placement test that generates instantaneous results as it is being taken by examinees.

Sentence Repetition Test (SRT): Is a clinical test developed by Meyers, Volkert, & Diep, (2000) and is used by neuropsychologists to assess the effect of brain damage on speech. SRT is used here to test the second or foreign language proficiency of foreign language learners.

Test For English Grammar: A test that assesses the grammatical competence.

Communicative Competence Testing: Assessment that is intended to establish one’s ability to effectively communicate in a second or foreign language.

Psycholinguistics Test: Assessment of the ability of a language learner to perceive, produce and recall, phonemes, morphemes, and syntax.

English Placement Test: A test administered for the placement of examinees into their respective proficiency levels.

ESL/EFL Placement Test: A test that is intended to assess the second/foreign language aptitude of learners.

Memory and Repetition English Test: Assessment involving the perception, production and recollection of English phonemes, morphemes, in spoken language.

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