Issues in Assessment Communicative Language Ability
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Issues in Assessment Communicative Language Ability


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Assessing communicative language ability means gathering information using a set of tests or assessments which help the test-takers to gauge their linguistic abilities in subjective and contextual situations (Naoua, 2017). It is important to test one's ability to communicate with others, as communication is the key to comprehension and socialisation. Several articles have been written by scholars suggesting various models and methodologies for creating frameworks and designs for testing the communicative ability of people. These researches have served as a basis for designing tests and developing valid methods for reliable assessments and measurements. Some of the most famous of these concept models are discussed in this article.


Empirical data suggest that testing the knowledge of the formal elements of language is not succinct enough. Assessment of language performance should be estimated through various knowledge components like grammatical, lexical, semantic, sociolinguistic and pragmatic elements (Purpura, 2008). Language assessments, therefore, should not just target specific test designs but include the wholesome performance of test-takers in context with various practical settings. While designing assessments, the test designers should keep in mind that communicative proficiency is a wide term inclusive of the ability to express, interact, interpret and converse in practical social situations and contexts (Fauziati, 2015).


What is communicative language ability?

Language is the vehicle of human expression. Human beings interact with each other and express their needs, feelings and expectations through the means of language. The art to use language in communicative situations can be defined as communicative language ability (Dahlan, 2015). In a functional context, communicative language ability consists of two aspects: firstly, the ability to frame language (words and sentences) in a proper manner, and secondly, the knowledge to use language in proper situations (Ellis, 1996). Therefore, it can be understood that merely forming sentences is not sufficient and is just a single side of communicative ability. Social interaction is an important part of communicative language ability as it determines the individual’s dexterity to use language for the accomplishment of his or her goals. This is the reason why language experts are also focused on the socialisation of learners during lessons.

The world’s largest educational testing and assessment organisation, ETS, has announced that assessing the communicative ability of any language ability refers to four different modes, namely listening, speaking, reading and writing (Powers, 2014). However, the test takers have always been sceptical about whether a single measure of testing is sufficient to examine their overall aptitude for communication. This indicates that without practical application of the language in real-life, interactive situations, communicative competence cannot be tested.

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