Toward mapping listening skills on the CEFR: An investigation of colloquial language Nigel Downey & Anne Nebel Center for Applied Linguistics and Language Studies, Hellenic American University Athens, Greece The focus of the study A descriptor of overall listening ability at C1 level in the CEFR reads as follows: “Can recognize a wide range of idiomatic expressions and colloquialisms.” (CEFR, p. 66) The focus of the study In attempting to operationalize this cando statement for test development purposes, two major issues have come to light: Weaknesses of the CEFR as a tool for test development Concerns over whose language we are testing and why CEFR Terminology: Definition of idioms & colloquial language? Operations: What undefined unclear does it mean “to recognize” I & CL? Purpose: unspecified Test development tool: incomplete How are I & CL processed (cognitive load) ? How can we best test I & CL (method) ? (see Alderson et al, 2004, 2006; Weir, 2005) Whose colloquial language? Whose norms are we using and why? Standard BrE? AmE? EIL? ELF? Nativized forms? (see Davies, Hamp-Lyons and Kemp, 2003; Brown, 2004; and Lowenberg, 2002 for discussion) Who uses I&CL? When? Where? Why? “unilateral idiomaticity” (Seidlhofer, 2004: 220) WE, ELF developments in testing (Jenkins, 2006) Formulaic sequences Subsumed I & CL under the larger term of formulaic structures/sequences (FS) What are FS? Definition: expanded Processing: processing shortcuts Purpose: promotion of self (?) (see Wray 2000; Wray & Perkins 2000) Testing the living language? Native speaker & non-native speaker environments Creativity Influence Testing Formulaic sequences in testing aiming at C1 level Considerations Context & genre Frequency Distribution Duration Formulaic sequences in the ALCE Part of international English language use The dollar took a dive Negotiations ground to a halt Reception versus production Washback effect Research References & resources Alderson, J.C., Figueras, N., Kuijper, H., Nold, G., Takala, S. and Tardieu, C. (2004) The development of specifications for item development and classification within the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: learning, teaching, assessment. Reading and listening. Final report of the Dutch CEF construct project. Retrieved 27/04/06 from http://eprints.lancs.ac.uk/view/subjects/lingel.html. Alderson, J.C., Figueras, N., Kuijper, H., Nold, G., Takala, S. and Tardieu, C. (2006) Analyzing tests of reading and listening in relation to the Common European Framework of Reference: The experience of the Dutch CEFR construct project. Language Assessment Quarterly 3 (1), 3-30. Brown, J. D. (2004) What do we mean by bias, Englishes, Englishes in testing, and English language proficiency? World Englishes 23 (2), 317319. Buck, G. (2001) Assessing listening. Cambridge University Press. Council of Europe. (2001) The Common European Framework of Reference for Languages: Learning, teaching and assessment. Cambridge University Press. References & resources Davies, A., Hamp-Lyons, L. and Kemp, C. (2003). Whose Norms? International proficiency tests in English. World Englishes, 22 (4) 571584. Jenkins, J. (2006) Current perspectives on teaching world Englishes and English as a lingua franca. TESOL Quarterly 40 (1), 157-181. Lowenberg, P. (2002) Assessing English proficiency in the Expanding Circle. World Englishes 21(3), 431-435. Seidlhofer, B. (2004) Research perspectives on teaching English as a lingua franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics 24, 209-239. Weir, C. (2005) Limitations of the Common European Framework for developing comparable examinations and tests. Language Testing 22 (3), 281-300. Wray, A. (2000) Formulaic sequences in second language teaching: principle and practice. Applied Linguistics 21/4, 463-489. Wray, A. and Perkins, M. (2000) The functions of formulaic language: an integrated model. Language & Communication 20, 1-28. Thank You [email protected] [email protected] Formulaic sequences: a definition “a sequence, continuous or discontinuous, of words or other meaning elements, which is, or appears to be, prefabricated: that is, stored and retrieved whole from memory at the time of use, rather than being subject to generation or analysis by the language grammar” (Wray & Perkins, 2000: 1) Why focus on FS in listening? Lack of familiarity with vocabulary causes problems and misunderstandings. Most interestingly, perhaps, are cases of ‘unilateral idiomaticity’ where particularly idiomatic speech by one participant can be problematic when the expressions used are not known to the interlocutors. Characteristics of such unilateral idiomaticity are, for example, e.g., metaphorical language use, phrasal verbs, and fixed ENL expressions such as this drink is on the house or we can give you a hand (Seidlhofer, 2004: 220).