Testing Reading Comprehension: Problems and Principles

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GRIN Verlag, Sep 21, 2009 - Foreign Language Study - 20 pages
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Seminar paper from the year 2005 in the subject English - Pedagogy, Didactics, Literature Studies, grade: 2,0, Dresden Technical University, language: English, abstract: In the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEF) the proficiency in understanding texts is one of the main criteria for determining a learner’s language competence. To obtain the level ‘Vantage’ for instance, the language user is supposed to “understand the main ideas of complex text both on concrete and abstract topics”. But what does it mean to understand a text? This question cannot easily be answered, and it is therefore one aim of this paper to provide a definition of the term ‘reading comprehension’. However, knowing what reading comprehension means does not necessarily enable us determine one’s reading competence. What the testing of reading comprehension should look like is still open for discussion. For this reason the paper will examine a number of problems which inevitably arise when measuring reading comprehension. Fields of particular interest are the input material, in other words the text which the reader is supposed to comprehend, basic problems of measuring receptive skills, several testing techniques and the writing of test items. While discussing these problem areas, a number of principles, which should help to construct valid reading comprehension tests, are established too.

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