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美国留学申请文书——文科Research Proposal

发稿日期:04-10 作者: 来源: 分享:

美国<a href=http://http://www.gebilaoshi.com/liuxue/ target=_blank class=infotextkey>留学</a>申请文书——文科Research Proposal

  Applicant’s name

  ××××××

  Proposed Topic/Title of Research

  Oral Language Testing and the Cross-cultural Competence

  Introduction and Literature Review

  1. The characteristics of oral ability

  Oral activities are interactive, purposeful, para-linguistic, non-linguistic, and inseparable of listening from speaking. Of these five characteristics, the interactive is of the most importance. Then the question is how to define oral ability from the point view of language testing. Weir and Bygate have proposed three skills consisting oral ability: routine skills, improvisation skills and micro-linguistic skills. Routine skills refer to skills to express greetings, introductions, thanks, apologies, regret, opinions, desires, etc; skills to narrate or describe events, objects, people, etc; skills to elicit directions, services, help, permission, etc. Improvisation skills refers to skills to clarify and check on specific meanings, to alter wording, to correct mistaken interpretation; to ensure adequate participation in the interaction, etc, Micro-linguistic skills refers to the phonetics, grammar, and vocabulary. A successful communication needs a good command of these three levels.

  2. The development of oral English testing theory

  The development of oral English testing theory bases on both theory and practice. In the middle of 1960s, Chomsky proposed the definition of Language Competence and Language Performance. The competence he proposed is not only the abstract competence. In other words, one cannot communicate with others with only abstract competence. From then on, the concept of language had been expanded. In 1972, a new theory of language and language use began to exert a significant influence on language teaching and potentiality on language testing. This is Hyme’s theory of communicative competence, which greatly expanded the understanding of language and the ability to use language in context. Besides Hyme, Canale&Swain and Bachman have also made a great contribution to the development of the theory, which will be discussed in the next part.

  The development of oral English testing experiences these stages: Pre-science testing system, structuralism testing system and communicative testing system. Direct, indirect and quasi-direct oral English tests are concrete applications of oral English testing theory.

  Actually, the history of the oral English testing is not very long. Since 1940s, the assessment of oral ability has become a part of evaluation of language studies. Since then, more and more oral tests had been invented, for example, TSE , TOEFL , IELTS , CET-SET , and TEM-SET ,etc.

  3. The necessity of oral testing

  Since D. H. Hymes first proposed communicative competence, many new ideas and thoughts appear. Bachman proposed communicative language ability which include language ability, strategic competence, psychophysiological mechanisms and pushed communicative competence to the summit. Reviewing the development of the idea of communicative competence, we can find that the ability to use language includes language competence and communicative competence. The former is the basis while the latter is the essential means of achieving communicative purposes. In view of this, language testing should test the two competences. However, in the tests dominated by objective items, it is impossible to measure communicative competence. It is true that if multiple-choice items, for instance, are designed carefully, they can examine specific areas of language knowledge, but this kind of examination is indirect since test takers’ responses to the task do not happen in real life and do not reflect their productive skills. The goal of learning language is to communicate through language, and communication, first of all, means oral communication. Therefore,language testing without speaking tests is not complete.

  4. Marking methods in oral testing

  As WEN Qiufang suggested, currently the main methods of assessing oral proficiency in the field of language testing are holistic marking and analytic marking, which have been discussed above at length. For example, in Test of Spoken English developed by Educational Testing Service, the testees’ oral proficiency is marked in terms of analytic scale, while holistic scale is employed in speaking test of IELTS. In our country, the marking method adopted currently in CET Spoken English Test is analytic marking.

  In the process of holistic marking and analytic marking, it is still difficult to

  guarantee the consistency between or within raters . In order to ensure ‘intra-rater reliability’ and ‘inter-reliability’ in scoring, test developers exert great concern on the selection and training of assessors. However, since the assessment on testees’ performance may be influenced by factors other than the oral proficiency presented, the two consistencies is still hard to achieve. For example, assessors may be instructed to rate responses only on oral production ability but nonetheless be unconsciously influenced by features such as the test takers’ accent as well as by the positions they take on the issue, which are known to influence scores assigned. Besides, usually a single score is arrived simply by aggregating the scores from different analytic rating scales, which violate a taboo that the whole is not equal to the sum of different parts as LI Xiaoju criticized the idea of confusing “compound”with “mixture”. Thus, as we see, there are still a lot of problems in marking oral proficiency by using analytic scale or holistic scale. Therefore, this dissertation attempts to propose a new marking method with an aim to solve some of these problems and provide an alternative to the current methods of marking oral proficiency.

  5. Communicative competence and communicative language testing

  Hymes saw that knowing a language is more than knowing its rules of grammar. There are culturally specific rules of use which connect the language used with features of the communicative context. His theory of communicative theory represented a profound shift from a psychological perspective on language to a sociological one.

  The practical response of the development of communicative language testing was matched by continuing theoretical development of the idea of communicative competence and its implication for the performance requirement of communicative language testing.

  In 1980, Canale and Swain have decided communicative competence into four main groups: Linguistic Competence, Sociolinguistic Competence, Discourse Competence, and Strategic Competence. In 1990, Bachman proposed his framework of Communicative Language Ability , which includes Language Competence, Strategic Competence, and Phsychophysilogical Mechanisms.

  Bachman also deem that the content of communicative language test should be motivating, substantive, integrated and interactive. In my own view, communicative oral language testing should be authentic, functional, interactive, situational and comprehensive.

  In communicative oral tests, there exist two major models: the two-way communicative model and the multi-way communicative model. The methods often used in communicative oral tests are role-play, interview, discussion, and so on.

  6. Cross-cultural Competence and Cultural Competence

  Hymes has included the cultural aspect in his definition of communication competence. After that, Bachman has also referred to the ability to interpret cultural references and figure of speeches in his own Communicative Language Ability .

  Chinese scholar WEN Qiufang proposed the framework of cross-cultural communicative competence. In her opinion, the cross-cultural communicative competence is consisted of communicative competence and cross-cultural competence. She also divided the oral communicative ability into three parts: language form, language content, and communicative principle. In her definition of communicative principle, he has mentioned the non-cultural principle and cultural principle. I want to call it “discourse with politeness”.

  If we want to evaluate a learner’s language ability, particularly his or her oral ability, it is not enough to only take the perspective of accuracy and fluency. We also need to examine his or her knowledge of target language culture, and his or her sensitivity to the difference between native culture and target culture.

  After a generally literature review mentioned above, I deem that the following problems will appear, which will also be my research focus.

  1) How to input the cultural components into the oral language testing?

  2) Lots of oversea students with a high score in the language tests have difficulties in effecting a successful communication with local citizens. How can we do to solve this problem from the perspective of oral language testing?

  The problem abovementioned has not been studied well in China, but it is necessary for us to know more about that.

  Methodology

  In order to know in what aspects of communicative language ability native speakers are most likely to differ particularly in cultural aspects. The present study will interview native speakers, which can be done through a condensed questionnaire. The sample should be chosen widely and unpredictably. Besides the interviewees will not only be native English speakers, but also native Chinese speakers. The data analysis will then begin. My intended questions in the questionnaire will cover the native speaker’s age, nationality, favorite, self-evaluation in the aspect of culture knowledge, degree of acceptance of foreigners, and the most intolerable culture mistakes made by foreigners in his idea. The last item is of the most importance. This survey might prove the significance of cultural components in cross-cultural communication. It can also do help to set a scientific cultural criterion for oral language testing, after which the testing itself can be more reliable and valid.

  Then designing an oral language testing model including the assessment of cross-cultural competence is necessary. This task will first need a survey on the present oral language testing. My research scope will cover TSE, TOEFL , IELTS, CET-SET, and TEM-SET. The latter two are national English tests in P.R.China. Meanwhile since Chinese has become more and more popular in the world, and perspective students to China will also need to take HSK , therefore research of spoken test of HSK cannot be omitted. I deem that the objective of my survey is not just comparing, but to help design with the positive aspects of these tests.

  When designing, the experiment of inputting the cultural competence of the target language is of great necessity. The assessment of cultural competence can be experimented through three main groups:

  1) Discrete Question Group;

  2) Input and Output Group;

  3) Role-play Group.

  The scoring scale of cultural ability can be defined in the testing as sensitivity to the general difference between native culture and target culture and a successful application of it to the real communication. Different levels of model tests will be designed, and the pre-testing candidates will also come from different levels. The data will be collected for future study and accomplish the dissertation.

  Besides, the data concerning with students’ scores in their language testings should be collected for computer-analysis, which will be a scientific material for research.

  At last, it is necessary to do a survey of those high score holders, of whom those with difficulties in communicating with local citizens is the focus. The survey will also be done though questionnaire. The question items for an interviewee can include: total score and discrete scores in his or her language test, age, self-evaluation, what aspects of difficulties, idea of local people, and the most obvious difficulties when expressing himself or herself.

  Expected Results and Significance

  The outcomes of my research may prove the significance of cultural competence. Besides, a reliable oral language testing is an essential part in language teaching, for there is a close relationship between language testing and language teaching. Arthus Hughes defined this relationship as partnership. Heaton also holds that assessment of oral ability will do a very good washback on the teaching.

  The oral language testing including the assessment of cross-cultural community will realize the function of test. It will force teachers to instruct cultural awareness more consciously, stimulate students’ motivation, and to improve students’ integrated skills. After taking this kind of oral language testing, students will adjust themselves better to the local community, and to communicate with local students and citizens.

  At the same time, for my research will include different surveys and the comparison of several tests, it will give advice for the authorities of these tests. The authority maybe will make the test more scientific and more valid. The student will also find a suitable test for himself.

  Besides, the survey of HSK in my intended research will help the local scholar know more about Chinese testing system, which will also promote the cross-cultural communication.

  References:

  [1] Canale, M. and M. Swain Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing[j]. Applied Linguistics, 1980:1-47.

  [2] Heaton, J. B. Writing English Tests New York: London, 1988.

  [3] Hughes. A. Testing for Language Teachers Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

  [4] Hymes, D. On Communicative Competence [A]. Pride J. B. and Holmes J. Sociolinguistics: Selected Readings [C]. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1972: 269-293.

  [5] Lado, R. Linguistics across Cultures: Applied Linguistics for Language Teachers Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1957.

  [6] Weir, C. J. & Bygate, M. Meeting the Criteria of Communicativeness in a Spoken Language Test. Journal of English and Foreign Language, No10-11, Central Institute of English and Foreign Languages, Hyderabad, India. 1992: 27-43.

  [7] Bachman, L. F. Fundamental Considerations on Language Testing. U.K: Oxford University Press. 1990

  [8] Bachman, L. F. & Palmer, A. S. Language Testing in Practice U.K: Oxford University Press. 1996

  [9] 胡文仲.文化差异与外语教学[A]. 胡文仲编.文化与交际[C]. 北京:外语教学与研究出版社,1994

  [10] 黄萍.从大学英语口语测试研究看大学英语教学[J].外语与外语教学,1999,:21-23

  [11] 文秋芳,赵学熙,王文宇.专业英语口语指南[M].上海:上海外语教育出版社,1999

  [12] 文秋芳.英语口语测试与教学[M].上海:上海外语教育出版社,1999

  [13] 李筱菊.语言测试科学与艺术. 长沙: 湖南教育出版社,1997

  [14] 张文中.模糊评分:外语口语此时评分新思路.广州:现代外语,2002,:98-102

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