Tense and aspect errors in spoken learner English

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Language testing guidelines like the Common European Framework of Referencefor Languages (CEFR) have been very influential for language testing and assessment,yet the way they define proficiency levels using ‘can-do-statements’ hasoften been criticized as being too vague. In the present chapter, I will take acorpus-based approach towards spoken accuracy in advanced German learnerEnglish and report on the findings of an error analysis of the most error-pronecategory in the German component of the Louvain International Database ofSpoken English Interlanguage (LINDSEI). Focusing on verb-tense related errors,the present study not only reveals what is especially error-prone in the case ofadvanced German learners of English in this category (e.g. reported speech,conditionals), but it also shows that even at an advanced level, learners appearto form a fairly heterogeneous group with regard to the number of errors.However, the types of errors committed at this proficiency level are quite systematic,and this allows for a thorough description of advanced learners’ errorprofiles. In the final section of this chapter, I will take these findings to suggesta text-centred description of different proficiency levels in advanced Germanlearners’ speech at the university level and sketch out some avenues for futureresearch.


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