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An Evaluation Study of NAPT Reading Subtest (Book Report Sample)
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An Evaluation Study of NAPT Reading Subtest
TABLE OF CONTENTS TOC \o "1-3" \h \z \u CHAPTER ONE PAGEREF _Toc381806316 \h 11.0 INTRODUCTION PAGEREF _Toc381806317 \h 11.1 Background Information PAGEREF _Toc381806318 \h 11.1.1 The National Arabic Proficiency Test (NAPT) PAGEREF _Toc381806319 \h 11.1.2 Levels of Language Proficiency PAGEREF _Toc381806320 \h 21.1.3 Language Proficiency Development PAGEREF _Toc381806321 \h 31.1.4 Language Proficiency Valuation PAGEREF _Toc381806322 \h 41.2 Problem Statement PAGEREF _Toc381806323 \h 51.3 Research Aim/Objectives PAGEREF _Toc381806324 \h 51.4 Research Questions PAGEREF _Toc381806325 \h 51.5 Theoretical Approach & Research Hypothesis PAGEREF _Toc381806326 \h 61.6 Research Justification & Significance PAGEREF _Toc381806327 \h 61.7 Scope of Study PAGEREF _Toc381806328 \h 71.8 Chapter Outline PAGEREF _Toc381806329 \h 8REFERENCES PAGEREF _Toc381806330 \h 9
1.1 Background Information
1.1.1 The National Arabic Proficiency Test (NAPT)
The need for speakers who are proficient in more than one language is clear in the context of national interests and security, as well as for personal and societal benefits. The cost of ignoring this need has already been felt. The situation will become even more urgent if sufficient effort and resources are not allocated to develop a language-proficient society that includes individuals with high levels of proficiency in second languages. The National Arabic Proficiency Test (NAPT) is a tool developed by the Chinese Ministry of Education to evaluate the quality of proficiency of second-year students taught Arabic in Chinese universities. Upon satisfaction of the tool requirements, a proficiency certificate is provided that attests to the studentsâ€™ proficiency in Arabic. NAPT is considered as an important means of improving teaching and learning of Arabic in Chinese institutions of learning.
NAPT is designed and administrated by the Committee of Foreign Language Teaching in the Ministry of Education. The Arabic subcommittee in the Committee of Foreign Language is tasked with organizing the tests in terms of formatting the exam, developing test versions, announcing time, and scoring answer sheets. NAPT is administered on Saturday morning in the third week of May of every year. NAPTâ€™s purpose is to assess the proficiency of second-year university students who study Arabic language as their major. It also evaluates the quality of the syllabus and inspects program implementation to provide an understanding of the teaching situation since the quality of teaching is an important factor in improving teaching standards. NAPT tests listening vocabulary, grammar, reading comprehension, translation and writing skills.
The purpose of the NAPT reading comprehension subtest is to assess studentsâ€™ ability to understand information they glean from reading accurately and on time. The test is aimed at examining a studentâ€™s ability to: (i) read and understand authentic reading materials (ii) understand and explain given facts and details (iii) not only understand the literal meaning but also make judgments and (iv) to understand not only each sentence but also the logic of context.
1.1.2 Levels of Language Proficiency
Levels of language proficiency can be remembered by the mnemonic BETTER (BEginning, Transitioning, Expanding, and Refining) (Clark, 2010; Fultcher & Davidson, 2007) (Guerrero, 2000; Luecht, Brumfield & Breithaupt, 2006). Beginning proficiency is Level 3, which is characterized by a reliance on a limited repertoire of learned phrases and basic vocabulary. A student at this level is able recognize the purpose of basic texts, such as menus, tickets, and short notes. The student should be able to understand common words and expressions. The student should understand a core of simple, formulaic utterances in both reading and listening. In writing and speaking, the student should communicate basic information through lists of words and some memorized patterns.
Transitioning proficiency is Level5, which is characterized by the ability to use language knowledge to understand information in everyday materials. The learner is transitioning from memorized words and phrases to original production, albeit still rather limited (Rifkin, 2005). In reading, students at Level 5 should understand the main ideas and explicit details in everyday materials, such as short letters, menus, and advertisements. In listening, students can follow short conversations and announcements on common topics and answer questions about the main idea and explicitly stated details. In speaking and writing, students are not limited to formulaic phrases, but can express factual information by manipulating grammatical structures (Rachel, 2011).
Expanding proficiency is Level 8, which is characterized by the ability to understand and use language for straightforward informational purposes. Level 8 students can understand the content of most factual, non-specialized materials intended for a general audience, such as newspaper articles, and television programs. In writing and speaking, students have sufficient control over language to successfully express a wide range of relationships, such as temporal, sequential, cause and effect among others.
Refining proficiency is Level 10, which is characterized by the ability to understand and use language that serves a rhetorical purpose and involves reading or listening between the lines. Level 10 students can follow spoken and written opinions and arguments, such as those found in newspaper editorials. The students have sufficient mastery of the language to shape their production, both written and spoken, for particular audiences and purposes and to clearly defend or justify a particular point of view. Thus, the study of NAPT reading subtests will also examine these various levels of Arabic proficiency among learners.
1.1.3 Language Proficiency Development
To develop high proficiency levels, an individual needs to score at a level of 3 or higher on the 5-point Interagency Language Roundtable (ILR) language proficiency rating scale (American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages, 1999; Leaver & Shekhtman, 2002). However, there is little information on how best to help language learners develop high levels of proficiency (Coalition of Distinguished Language Centers, 2014). Some of the three proposed approaches include: (i) build on the language background of heritage language speaker, (ii) start language learning early to build a strong basis for second, third, and even fourth language learning, (iii) provide intensive immersion experiences for students at the postsecondary level, including overseas study in a target-language culture (Malone, Rifkin, Christian & Johnson, 2004).
Pedagogically, institutions need to: (i) offer intensive summer language institutes (ii) increase the number of courses offered in languages other than the native one, especially in professional subject matter areas such as engineering and business (Angelelli & Degueldre, 2002) (iii) provide overseas study to immerse learners in the language and culture they are studying, such as programs in China that include content courses in Chinese and internships with Chinese organizations (Kubler, 2002) (iv) develop materials for upper-level students, such as the computer-mediated tutorials to teach Advanced skills, and (v) offer comprehensive language programs that are designed specifically to promote high-level proficiency through on-campus and overseas experiences (Angelelli & Degueldre, 2002).
Technologies also encourage and support the development and maintenance of high levels of language proficiency. The Internet brings authentic language and cultural experiences to students and provides opportunities for them to interact with native speakers, to access culturally appropriate and high-level reading and listening texts, and to conduct research in their areas of expertise (University of Hawaii, 2014).
The availability of resources to develop high-level proficiency remains limited although several projects are addressing this challenge. For instance, the National Flagship Language Initiative has awarded grants to support the teaching and learning of Arabic, Chinese, Korean, and Russian at universities recognized as leaders in language education (The National Flagship Language Initiative, 2014). To measure the success in developing high levels of language proficiency, there are ways to determine when learners have reached these levels. Although assessments that measure high levels of proficiency exist, it is perceived that this is not the case in NAPT subtests.
1.1.4 Language Proficiency Valuation
Language proficiency testing must take into account two key considerations: (1) to use the best possible method for testing and (2) to use an iterative approach. Generally, the best method is to conduct a test where representative participants interact with real scenarios that involve their use of the language (Leaver & Shekhtman, 2002).
Language proficiency tests result in benchmark scales with points along the scale designated as benchmark levels. These benchmark levels include verbal descriptions of the proficiency profile of a typical student at that point in the scale. Reading test validation refers to the process of gathering evidence to support the use of tests as an interpretation of the underlying construct. The implication is that there is no valid test, but that the tests are constantly being reviewed to ensure valid interpretation (Huang, 2013).
Test validation techniques context validity, cognitive validity, scoring validity, and criterion validity (Shepard, 1993). There are two major approaches to understanding the concept of reading: (1) the process approach and its result and (2) the product a...
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