Assessing Students’ Reading Competencies: Setting Global Standards
Prof. Reima Al‐Jarf
King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia e‐mail: firstname.lastname@example.org This study proposes a model for testing reading for any purpose, any level and any text type. It serves as a general framework for EFL instructors. This model is based on 2 reading theories. It looks at reading as a product and a process. According to the proposed model, a reading test consists of an unseen text of a length, difficulty level and type comparable to those practiced in class. The reading text should be followed by items that measure the following product skills: (1) Literal comprehension, i.e. the literal recognition, recall or verification of details, main ideas, sequence of events, comparisons, cause‐effect relationships, and character traits; (2) Inferential comprehension i.e. inferring supporting details, sequence, comparisons, cause and effect relationships, character traits, figurative language and predicting outcomes; (3) Evaluation, i.e., judgments of reality or fantasy, fact or opinion, adequacy or validity, appropriateness, worth, desirability and acceptability; (4) Appreciation, i.e., emotional responses to the content, plot or theme, sensitivity to various literary genres, identification with characters and incidents, reaction to the author’s use of language, and response to generated images. It should be also followed by items that measure the following process skills: (1) Using phonic clues to determine the pronunciation and meaning of unknown words by identifying letter combinations and spelling‐pronunciation correspondences; (2) Using word structure clues to determine the pronunciation and meaning of unknown words by breaking words into roots, prefixes and suffixes, by identifying inflectional endings, compound words, contractions and possessives; (3) Using semantic or contextual clues such as the topic, words preceding and/or following the unfamiliar words and commonly used expressions, synonyms, antonyms, definitions, direct explanations, descriptions, examples, parenthesis, comma enclosure, appositives, mood and tone available in the written context; (4) Using syntactic clues to determine the meaning of unknown words by noting the inflectional endings, position of words in a sentence, mandatory
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agreement, and by recognizing the function of punctuation and typographic devices; (5) Recognizing text structure such as paragraph topics and subtopics, text structure type and organizational clues; (6) Making Inferences, i.e. using knowledge or experiences or finding a semantic, grammatical or logical (causal) relation between the propositions or events expressed in the text, making backward and forward inferences; (7) Recognizing anaphoric relationships, i.e., words and phrases that refer back to other words and phrases used earlier in a text such as personal and locative pronouns, temporal, class inclusive and arithmetic anaphora, pro‐ verbs, synonyms and subordinates; (8) Recognizing types of cohesion, i.e. the grammatical and/or lexical features that link the component parts of a text together such as cohesion by reference, by conjunction, by ellipsis, by substitution and lexical cohesion. To have a balanced reading test, the test items should cover all 12 skill area. However, the subskills tested under each are can be chosen in accordance with the students’ proficiency level. Questions should not involve direct copying of answers from the text even at the literal level. The workshop will explain the model in detail and will use sample reading texts and test items for illustration.
Bio Reima Al‐Jarf has taught courses in EFL to graduate and undergraduate students. She has 4 books and 70 articles published in refereed international and national journals and has given 110 conference presentations in 25 countries. She is a member of 22 professional organizations. She served on international, national committees. Her areas of interest are: Use of technology in language teaching; reading in L1 and L2; EFL curriculum and textbook design and test construction. Website: http://reemasado.tripod.com