Southern African Linguistics and Applied Language Studies

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Appropriate assessment of English language competency for South African teachers-in-training

Charlotte Mbali


The initial research question is why scores in locally made English tests for teachersin- training in South Africa did not correlate with their scores in APTIS, the new computerised tests offered by the British Council and calibrated to the CEFR, the international standards for language assessment based on the communicative paradigm of language learning. The candidates in the sample were all isiZulu-speaking local foundation phase teachers-in-training with English competence derived from their own schooling and exposure to English. The validity of the APTIS tests and CEFR for these candidates is then discussed compared to the purposes of the local tests. With regard to varieties of English used in APTIS, only ‘inner circle’ native speakers, it is proposed that more use of local southern African varieties would be desirable, albeit having regard to learner attitudes and purposes. The paper concludes that using the new communicative methods of language testing with foundation phase teachers-in-training may improve classroom practice.
AJOL African Journals Online