Albert Weideman

Albert Weideman
University of the Free State | ufs · Faculty of the Humanities

DLitt
The development of a theory of applied linguistics, with reference to language policies, courses and assessments.

About

119
Publications
69,509
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1,084
Citations
Citations since 2016
38 Research Items
569 Citations
2016201720182019202020212022050100150
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2016201720182019202020212022050100150
2016201720182019202020212022050100150
Introduction
My primary engagement is with the foundations or fundamentals of applied linguistics, i.e. with the development of a theory of applied linguistics. I am also involved in language assessment; I design both language tests and courses. See my profile and blog ("Think with me") at https://albertweideman.com.
Additional affiliations
September 2020 - present
University of the Free State
Position
  • Professor
August 2017 - October 2017
University of the Free State
Position
  • Fellow
August 2009 - September 2012
University of the Free State
Position
  • Head of Department

Publications

Publications (119)
Article
The disruption that accompanied the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 also affected the administration of academic literacy tests. These are employed to place incoming students at institutions of higher education in appropriate courses for the development of their ability to handle the demands of academic discourse. For many students the conventional tests...
Article
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Institutions responsible for the training of educators have a duty to ensure that students develop adequate mastery of subject content and pedagogy. This paper investigates the language learning beliefs (LLBs) of pre-service Foundation and Intermediate Phase educators and their alignment with language learning principles from applied linguistics re...
Article
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Test validation may more aptly be conceived of as the process of designing language tests responsibly. While a good test gains in reputation as it is administered over time, the early stages of its validation are perhaps the most critical. There is now general agreement that the validation process should be reported in the form of an argument that...
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This paper will deal, firstly, with the South African context, that cries out for attention to responsible language assessment. The renewed interest in language testing in South Africa is well illustrated in assessments of language ability for educational purposes generally, and more specifically in the assessment of academic literacy. Secondly, th...
Book
South African universities face major challenges in meeting the needs of their students in the area of academic language and literacy. The dominant medium of instruction in the universities is English and, to a much lesser extent, Afrikaans, but only a minority of the national population are native speakers of these languages. Eleven other language...
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There is currently a great deal of interest in language teachers' competence in assessing language ability. Their competence in this regard, or lack of it, has much to do with their initial training and professional biases. Taking as example the teaching and learning of one specific kind of language, academic discourse, this paper discusses a numbe...
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The subjective validation of language tests and their objective validity remain contested. The debate is clouded by a lack of conceptual clarity: every measure of the adequacy of a test is either subsumed under validity, or other test features are promoted to prime consideration. An alternative is to recognize the technical dimension of experience...
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The conceptualization of validity remains contested in educational assessment in general, and in language assessment in particular. Validation and validity are the subjective and objective sides of the process of building a systematic argument for the adequacy of tests. Currently, validation is conceptualized as being dependent on the validity of t...
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The management of language diversity and the level of mastery of language required by educational institutions affect those institutions from early education through to higher education. This paper deals with three dimensions of how language is managed and developed in education. The first dimension is the design of interventions for educational en...
Article
Positivism/postpositivism is one of several kinds of categorization that can be used to describe applied linguistic designs. Designs in applied linguistics include language policies, language tests, or language courses, for example. The different styles of working professionally within the discipline provide theoretical rationales for these three k...
Chapter
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This is a workbook of practice tests of academic and quantitative literacy (AQL) for prospective university students. The workbook comes with answers at the end. This book replaces "Academic literacy: Test your competence" (2014). The front matter and introduction, providing a definition of academic literacy and how tests of academic literacy are c...
Book
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This is a workbook of practice tests of academic and quantitative literacy (AQL) for prospective university students. The workbook comes with answers at the end. This book replaces "Academic literacy: Test your competence" (2014). The front matter and introduction, providing a definition of academic literacy and how tests of academic literacy are c...
Article
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In addition to a large body of evidence supporting the relevance of the home environment for literacy development, tests of cognitive-based skills are commonly employed to predict literacy acquisition. The Test of Emergent Literacy (TEL) has been designed to account for the early interaction of children with their literate environment as predictor...
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The massification of higher education has led to a substantial increase in enrolments since 1993, and an astonishing 300% rise in firstdegree completion among black students. Yet questions remain about the level and adequacy of students’ preparation at school for such study. Drop-out rates of learners remain unacceptably high both at school and uni...
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The post-1994 South African constitution proudly affirms the language diversity of the country, as do subsequent laws, while ministerial policies, both at further and higher education level, similarly promote the use of all 11 official languages in education. However, such recognition of diversity presents several challenges to accommodate potentia...
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Die redelik onlangse ontstaan van die toegepaste taalkunde as dissipline verklaar waarom die definisies daarvan soveel stryd ontlok. Daar is 'n veelheid van wyses waarop die veld gekonseptualiseer word. Tans is multi- of inter- en selfs transdissiplinariteit weereens gewilde terme in sulke definisies. Merkwaardig genoeg verbind sommige huidige besk...
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A central conceptual issue in language assessment in general, and in the work of Alan Davies in particular, is never fully resolved. How is responsible language test design related to ethicality? This unfinished business goes back to the unresolved debate about validity and validation, that has resulted in a loss of conceptual clarity about sound l...
Chapter
How ‘scientific’ is applied linguistics? Progressivist and modernist expectations are present in it from the start. Yet in this case scientific analysis presupposes a separate, preparatory phase for the planning of the intervention: theoretical analysis is utilized, but is encapsulated in, and subservient to the plan and its technical design. To ma...
Chapter
Three responses to the limitations of applied linguistics are discussed: the audio-lingual method, mainstream communicative language teaching, and ‘humanistic’ approaches. The first gives priority to scientific principles; the second abides by technical analyses; the third takes the road of revolutionary freedom. However interpreted or understood,...
Chapter
Seven styles of applied linguistic work are discussed: from the first, ‘scientific’ starting point, to the current interest in dynamic systems theory (DST). Each is unique, but they also exhibit continuity, with later styles echoing earlier traditions. The first critical current issue is: will applied linguistics be able to reach beyond postmoderni...
Chapter
A theory of applied linguistics is possible, and warranted in order to acknowledge the coherence of the discipline, as well as to provide an awareness of its orientation. One of the tasks of a theory of applied linguistics is to identify typical and general design principles. The latter include constitutive principles such as reliability, validity...
Chapter
A more sophisticated conceptualization of applied linguistics soon began to emerge: that it is a multi-disciplinary undertaking. Applied linguistics came to be seen as pedagogical engineering, and as having an inter-disciplinary, mediating role in language education. Yet the nature of the mediation is left unexplained. When we consider the learning...
Chapter
The search for the “best method” of teaching additional languages was replaced at the end of the previous century by an emphasis on the individual learner and the uniqueness of each classroom. Ethnographic studies were undertaken. “Beyond method” lie interests in macrostrategies for teaching language, and sensitivity to context, to local conditions...
Chapter
Is applied linguistics a coherent discipline despite the paradigm variation it harbors? Instead of expecting too much (from scientific analysis), or relativizing our expectations entirely (as when we adopt a critical perspective), applied linguistics may legitimately strive to innovate in its designs. Innovation is not necessarily either connected...
Chapter
Do more recent definitions of applied linguistics take us any further than earlier attempts? Is linguistics its parent discipline, or does it have a multi-disciplinary character? Does it include “everything and anything”? The narrowing of linguistics may well have occasioned the flight of inherently linguistic research to ‘applied’ studies. Moreove...
Chapter
Reflection on the nature of a discipline minimizes the risk for those who practise it. Applied linguistics is a design discipline that helps us devise plans to overcome language problems. How to design responsibly should therefore be uppermost in the minds of those who devise the solutions. The intuitive, currently fashionable or ‘scientific’ solut...
Chapter
Is applied linguistics merely an extension of linguistics, as its name implies? To answer that question, we need philosophical delimitation criteria. We might avoid much contestation and contradiction if we defined the fields of linguistics and applied linguistics with reference not to concrete entities, but to the two modalities, the lingual and t...
Chapter
The logical and formative modes of experience distinguish linguistic analysis from applied linguistic designs. Analysis helps us to understand the problem, but our technical imagination leads the designed solution. In preparing plans, we already anticipate their execution. Analysis can be the means to inform, enhance or justify the achievement of t...
Book
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No mere history of applied linguistics, this volume presents a framework for interpreting the development of applied linguistics as a discipline. It offers a systematic account of how applied linguistics has developed, articulating the philosophical premises that have informed both its emergence and its subsequent growth. It asks questions that are...
Article
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ABSTRACT Is applied linguistics part of linguistics? In historical perspective applied linguistics is a fairly recent discipline, which may explain some of the contestation that still surrounds its definition. There is in fact a multiplicity of ways in which it is conceptualised: each of at least seven different traditions of working in the field...
Chapter
National level language assessments pose a particular challenge to those who design and administer them. To illustrate that challenge, this contribution will consider a set of secondary school exit-level examinations for home languages in South Africa. These examinations illustrate a dilemma with such high-stakes assessments that may be informative...
Chapter
For several reasons, the construct underlying post-entry tests of academic literacy in South Africa such as the Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) and its postgraduate counterpart, the Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students (TALPS), deserves further scrutiny. First, the construct has not been further investigated in close to a dec...
Chapter
This chapter will follow Shohamy’s exhortation “to tell the story of the test” (2001). It begins by highlighting the need for the Test of Academic Literacy for Postgraduate Students (TALPS), for use primarily as a placement and diagnostic mechanism for postgraduate study, before documenting the progress made from its initial conceptualisation, desi...
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High-stakes tests, such as exit-level examinations for school leavers, demand fairness in every respect. The examination of first languages, referred to as home languages (HL) in South Africa, at the end of grade 12 is a particular case in point. Not only have several... [Online]. Available http://www.litnet.co.za/die-assessering-van-huistale-in-di...
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High-stakes tests, such as exit-level examinations for school leavers, demand fairness in every respect. The examination of first languages, referred to as home languages (HL) in South Africa, at the end of grade 12 is a particular case in point. Not only have several reports indicated that the language papers treat learners across the various lang...
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A number of recent discussions reveal a renewed unease within applied linguistics with how the field should be defined, which direction it should take, what the legitimate focuses are for work in the discipline, what themes should engage applied linguists, and which methodologies they should employ. This paper focuses on how the currently ascendant...
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Following the observation that a large number of postgraduate students may not possess an adequate level of academic language ability to complete their studies successfully, this study investigates postgraduate students’ strengths and weaknesses in academic literacy, with a specific focus on academic writing. By performing a diagnostic analysis of...
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The newly introduced Curriculum and Assessment Policy Statement (CAPS) contains a plethora of genres and writing tasks, aimed at helping learners to develop dexterity in written communication. Accordingly, writing also features as a dominant construct in the Grade 12 school-leaving examination, with an entire language paper (Paper 3) being devoted...
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The contestation of paradigms within the discipline of applied linguistics may broadly be categorised as a conflict of modernist versus postmodernist approaches. While postmodernism has been in the ascendancy in applied linguistics since the last decade of the previous century, it is both divided and currently being challenged by paradigms that har...
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We now much more readily accept a skills-neutral rather than a skills-based definition of academic literacy, changing our conceptualisations of what academic literacy is. Yet two issues have evaded scrutiny: first, there is the uncritical acceptance that academic writing is what should be taught, and institutionalised. Second, there is a tendency t...
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Applied linguistics is a discipline of design: it solves language problems by suggesting a plan, or blueprint, to handle them. These designs are sometimes promoted as highly innovative. Yet, are innovative language courses and tests in all respects truly new? This article will argue that most historically significant turning points in applied lingu...
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In a previous study (Patterson & Weideman, 2013), we discussed the importance of acknowledging the typicality of academic discourse as a starting point for critically engaging with constructs of academic literacy. In this article, various attempts at identifying the typical features of academic discourse are surveyed and critiqued. The preliminary...
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Constructs of academic literacy are used both for test and course design.While the discussion is relevant to both, the focus of this article will be on test design. Constructs of academic literacy necessarily depend on definitions that assume that academic discourse is typically different from other kinds of discourse. The more deliberate their dep...
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Following the texts of the Messick (1981: 10; 1980: 1023) formulations more closely, another representation of his well-known "Facets of validity" matrix is possible: adequacy of… appropriateness of… inferences made from test scores depends on multiple sources of empirical evidence relates to impact considerations / consequences of tests the design...
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Applied linguistics clearly has modernist roots, which have steadily been eroded by postmodernist views. Opposites, such as quantitative and qualitative, or positivist and postpositivist, are often used to characterise this intellectual conflict. The current ascendancy of a potentially modernist paradigm, a dynamic or complex systems approach, will...
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The organisation of a university into sub-institutional entities like departments, schools, or faculties is the outcome of complex historical and other conditions and forces, that do not necessarily reflect the academic foundations on which disciplines may be identified. So language departments sometimes erroneously refer to themselves as ‘discipli...
Chapter
Positivist and postpositivist influences in applied linguistics are discernible both directly and obliquely, as has been the case in other fields. Those influences provide evidence of how closely applied linguistic concept formation relates to developments in scientific thinking in general, as well as to specific discussions in the philosophy of sc...
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Though there are many conditions for drafting language tests responsibly, this contribution focuses first on how to operationalise a set of three critically important design principles for such tests. For the last thirty years or so, developers of language tests have agreed that the most important design principle emanates from our ability to give...
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Concern for the academic success of undergraduate students with low literacy levels is by no means unique to South Africa. In response to initiatives by the Ministry of Education and Training to standardise and improve the quality of higher education in the country in accordance with international standards, the University of Đà Nẵng in Việt Nam re...
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Towards accountability: A point of orientation for post-modern applied linguistics in the third millennium In this article three difficulties in dealing with post-modern applied lin- guistics are identified, and three reasons are given for taking the trouble to define this emerging tradition of doing applied linguistics. In the context of earlier a...
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Responsible test design relies on close examination of a number of parameters of a test. After finding a clearly argued, rational basis (construct) for the ability being tested, then articulating this in detailed specifications for subtests and item types, and subsequently setting benchmarks for both test reliability and item productivity, there re...
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As in many other countries, communicative language teaching (CLT) became the orthodoxy in second language teaching in many sub-Saharan African education systems in the last two decades of the previous century. There is enough evidence, however, to indicate that it has not been adopted by a critical mass of language teachers in their day-to-day clas...
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Developing a theory of applied linguistics is a top priority for the discipline today. The emergence of a new paradigm - a complex systems approach - in applied linguistics presents us with a unique opportunity to give prominence to the development of a foundational framework for this design discipline. Far from being a mere philosophical exercise,...
Presentation
When demarcating a discipline we need to define it in such a way that we distinguish it from other fields. This cannot be a disciplinary-internal undertaking. It is a foundational/philosophical undertaking.
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The organisation of poetic language as discourse type and as text is worth considering in its own right. What do poets bring to expression through their organisation of language, and how do they do it, if they employ language skilfully in order to support the main discursive threads of their work? This contribution demonstrates that poets may choos...
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Language departments sometimes erroneously refer to themselves as 'disciplines'. Yet even the most rudimentary scrutiny will reveal that they often harbour more than one academic field and equally often, across departments, house the same disciplines. A case in point is the Department of English at the University of the Free State. A responsible fo...
Book
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"An invitation to those entering the discipline to become intrigued by things lingual." The framework allows young scholars entering the field to gain an understanding of why and how the discipline is academically sustainable, a perspective that is likely to be useful beyond the shifts in linguistic paradigms that they will no doubt experience in t...
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2008, Oxford University Press, Oxford. ISBN 978 0 19 442244 4, 287 pages
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The way we conceptualise lingual phenomena enables us to capture theoretically lingual states and events in a way that makes our experience of language cohe -rent, consistent and intelligible. Now a new paradigm, a complex systems ap - proach, has arisen that makes change the essence of what we survey. The ap - proach itself, however, even in chara...
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A number of recent studies of language teaching on the African continent (Shaalukeni, 2000; Tesfamariam, 2000) have investigated how teachers manage to retain old styles of language teaching in the face of new approaches that have been introduced by the education authorities that employ them. The conviction with which teachers justify their traditi...
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The lack of debate about what constitutes applied linguistics brings with it an uncritical acceptance of views that deserve to be contested. Moreover, it leads to an ignorance of the historical influence of such views, which directly affects the basis of applied linguistics research and the training of professionals in the field. Since attempts to...
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The development of language and communication skills in young children is directly related to future academic success. Young children who are at risk for language impairment should, therefore, be identified as early as possible. Multilingualism, which has become a universal phenomenon, may mask the presence of language impairment. In South African...
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If we characterise language tests as applied linguistic instruments, we may argue that they therefore need to conform to the conditions that apply to the development of responsible applied linguistic designs. Conventionally, language tests are required to possess both validity and reliability; these are necessary conditions for such tests, and so i...
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In several earlier analyses of two tests of academic literacy—the Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) and its Afrikaans counterpart, the Toets vir Akademiese Geletterdheidsvlakke (TAG)—we have adopted an approach to the problem that tests may be abused (and therefore used to harm people) by discussing various antidotes to this, so as to ensure...
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This article considers the analysis of the results of a re-administration of a test of academic literacy, specifically with a view to determining whether this analysis yields insight into the improvement of levels of academic literacy over time. The article postulates that, if improvement occurs, the level of improvement will be uneven across diffe...
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A number of philosophical concepts in linguistics may be conceptualised as primitives or founding concepts. Many of these are historically significant; cf. the concepts lingual system; lingual position and sequence, lingual constancy. Less obvious primitives are ideas of spheres of discourse, text type and acceptability. Generally, such foundationa...
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When we undertake academic, disciplinary work, we rely on philosophical starting points. Several straightforward illustrations of this can be found in the history of applied linguistics. It is evident from the history of our field that various historically influential approaches to our discipline base themselves upon different academic confessions....
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How much empirical evidence is there for the frequently expressed opinion that the academic literacy levels of first year students at South African universities are steadily deteriorating? Two tests of academic literacy used widely in South Africa, the Test of academic literacy levels (TALL) and its Afrikaans counterpart (TAG) may hold at least a p...
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The designed solutions to language problems that are the stock-in-trade of applied linguistics affect the lives of growing numbers of people. By calling for these designs to be accountable, applied linguistics has, in its most recent postmodern form, added an ethical dimension that is lacking in earlier work. Postmodern understandings of the field...
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The Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) used by three South African universities (Pretoria, Stellenbosch and North-West) provides a reliable and affordable alternative means of assessing the academic literacy of new entrants into the higher education sector. A close alignment is sought between the test, the task-based language instruction that...
Chapter
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Abstract The contribution of post-modern approaches to our understanding of writing and applied linguistics research features prominently in a number of recent discussions that survey these two fields (Lillis 2003, Ivanic 2004, Weideman 2003a and Rajagopalan 2004). An examination of these discussions of approaches to writing enables one not only to...
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To ensure fairness, test designers and developers strive to make their instruments for assessing the language abilities of learners as accurate and reliable as possible, and have traditionally used a number of techniques to ensure this. From a post-modern, and especially critical perspective, however, these measures are not enough to ensure fairnes...
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Tests of language ability are based on a certain construct that defines this ability, and this blueprint determines what it is that will be measured. The University of Pretoria has, since 2000, annually administered a test of academic language proficiency to more than 6000 first-time students. The intention of this test is to identify those who are...
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One of the important challenges of test design and construction is to align the blueprint of a test and the specifications that flow from it with the task types that are selected to measure the language ability described in the blueprint. This article examines a number of such task types and their alignment with the blueprint of a particular test o...
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This paper argues that there is much to learn from an external, peer or expert evaluation by a department that concerns itself with the assessment and development of academic literacy. Such an evaluation provides an opportunity to step back and reflect on the foundations of one's work, and redefine its operational focuses. Taking the response to on...
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We often neglect to justify course and task design in language teaching in terms of current insight. The article articulates a selected number of general considerations that influence course design in communicative language teaching, and one specific condition: that the task or course must make language learning possible in the classroom. The artic...
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For the last decade or longer, applied linguists have paid increasing attention to learners' strategies and styles of learning (Wenden & Rubin 1987; Oxford 1990, Chamot & O'Malley 1990; Cohen 1998). There is an historical reason for this interest, which is discussed in the final part of this paper. The concern that teachers have with learners' beli...
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Language proficiency among young South Africans is low. This is true not only of mother tongue speakers of English and Afrikaans, but also, and especially, of non-mother tongue speakers of English, among whom language proficiency levels raise serious concern. Some examples are given to illustrate the importance of this problem, and the extent of th...
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A method of language teaching is a style of instruction that expresses the professional commitment of the teacher in support of an assumption of how language is learned. After the ideological excesses of the audio-lingual method, it is understandable that teachers adopted a "once bitten, twice shy" approach, which for many amounted to adopting ecle...
Article
Dit is moeiliker om kommunikatief te toets as om kommunikatiewe onderrig te gee. As ons egter op 'n diskrete manier kommunikatiewe toetse kon merk, sou dit sake aansienlik vergemaklik. Die artikel bespreek 'n kommunikatiewe toets wat gebruik maak van items oor groet, informasie-gapingtake en 'n eenvoudige narratief. Die eerste vyf items is gemerk v...
Article
Hierdie studie handel oor die gebruik van verbale en nie-verbale handelinge in die afsluiting van 'n gesprek. Probleme wat deur gesprekvoerders ondervind word in hul gesamentlike poging om gespreksafsluiting te bereik, word geilllustreer in die analise van 'n stel gespreksepisodes. In ander studies oor gespreksafsluiting word veral die suiwer verba...