Volume 41, Issue 1
  • ISSN 0155-0640
  • E-ISSN: 1833-7139
Buy:$35.00 + Taxes



Foreign language programs in schools have a strong focus on the development of communicative language ability and, increasingly, assessment tasks are designed to capture communicative abilities required for real-world situations. In communicative test tasks, sociolinguistic and discourse components, which are beyond grammatical accuracy, target the abilities required to produce integrated texts that fulfil their communicative purposes. However, the majority of the work on assessment of communicative abilities has been carried out in the context of academic English, and less is known about the abilities of secondary students in foreign language teaching situations.

This study examines the outcomes of an integrated writing task designed as part of formal year 12 assessment in Japanese as a second language. It seeks to elucidate the features which differentiate students at higher and lower levels of competence, and, through a focus on content and how it is presented, it demonstrates how these aspects of competence can be observed in responses to the task. The study contributes to our understanding of the nature of communicative abilities and their assessment in a secondary education context, and it also sheds light on aspects of competence which might benefit from more targeted teaching in such settings.


Article metrics loading...

Loading full text...

Full text loading...


  1. Alderson, J. C. , & Banerjee, J.
    (2002) State of the art review : language testing and assessment (part two). Language Teaching, 35(2), 79–113. doi: 10.1017/S0261444802001751
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0261444802001751 [Google Scholar]
  2. Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA]
    Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority [ACARA] (2014) Foundation to year 10 curriculum: Languages. Canberra, ACT: Commonwealth of Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  3. Bachman, L. , & Palmer, A.
    (1996) Language testing in practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  4. Bachman, L. and Palmer, A.
    (2010) Language Assessment in Practice. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  5. Bachman, L.
    (1990) Fundamental considerations in language testing. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
    [Google Scholar]
  6. Banerjee, J. , Franceschina, F. , & Smith, A. M.
    (2007) Documenting features of written language production typical at different IELTS band score levels (IELTS Research Report No. 7, the British Council/University of Cambridge Local Examinations Syndicate). https://www.ielts.org/teaching-and-research/research-reports/volume-07-report-5
    [Google Scholar]
  7. Byram, M.
    1997Teaching and assessing intercultural communicative competence. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  8. Cameron, C. A. , Lee, K. , Webster, S. , Munro, K. , Hunt, A. K. , & Linton, M. J.
    (1995) Text cohesion in children’s narrative writing. Applied Psycholinguistics16, 257–269.10.1017/S0142716400007293
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0142716400007293 [Google Scholar]
  9. Canale, M. , & Swain, M.
    (1980) Theoretical bases of communicative approaches to second language teaching and testing. Applied Linguistics, 1(1), 1–47.10.1093/applin/1.1.1
    https://doi.org/10.1093/applin/1.1.1 [Google Scholar]
  10. Canale, M.
    (1983) On some dimensions of language proficiency. In J. Oller (Ed.), Issues in language testing research (pp.333–342). Rowley, MA: Newbury House.
    [Google Scholar]
  11. Celce-Murcia, M.
    (2008) Rethinking the role of communicative competence in language teaching. In E. Alcon Soler & M. P. Safont Jorda (Eds.), Intercultural language use and language learning (pp.41–57). Dordrecht: Springer Science and Business Media B.V.
    [Google Scholar]
  12. Chalhoub-Deville, M.
    (1997) Theoretical models, assessment frameworks, and test construction. Language Testing, 14(1), 3–22.10.1177/026553229701400102
    https://doi.org/10.1177/026553229701400102 [Google Scholar]
  13. (2003) Second language interaction: Current perspectives and future trends. Language Testing, 20, 369–383.10.1191/0265532203lt264oa
    https://doi.org/10.1191/0265532203lt264oa [Google Scholar]
  14. Chang, S. , Inoue, C. , & Taylor, L.
    (2015) Developing rubrics to assess the reading-into-writing skills: A case study. Assessing Writing, 26(1), 20–3710.1016/j.asw.2015.07.004
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2015.07.004 [Google Scholar]
  15. Cheng, Xiaoguang & Steffensen, M. S.
    (1996) Metadiscourse: A Technique for improving student writing. Research in the Teaching of English, 30(2), 149–181.
    [Google Scholar]
  16. Cohen, A. D. & Olshtain, E.
    (1985) Comparing apologies across languages. In K. R. Jankowsky (Ed.), Scientific and humanistic dimensions of language (pp.175–184). Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing.10.1075/z.22.28coh
    https://doi.org/10.1075/z.22.28coh [Google Scholar]
  17. Crismore, A. , Markkanen, R. , & Steffensen, M. S.
    (1993) Metadiscourse in persuasive writing. Written Communication, 8, 39–71.10.1177/0741088393010001002
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0741088393010001002 [Google Scholar]
  18. Crowhurst, M.
    (1987) Cohesion in argument and narration at three grade levels. Research in the Teaching of English21(2), 185–201.
    [Google Scholar]
  19. Cumming, A. , Grant, L. , Mulcahy-Ernt, P. , & Powers, D. E.
    (2005) A teacher-verification study of speaking and writing prototype tasks for a new TOEFL® (TOEFL-MS-26). Princeton, NJ: Educational Testing Service.
    [Google Scholar]
  20. de Kretser, A. & Spence-Brown, R.
    (2010) The current state of Japanese language education in Australian schools. Carlton South, Australia, Education Services Australia.
    [Google Scholar]
  21. Douglas, D.
    (2005) Testing languages for specific purposes. In E. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in second language teaching and learning (pp.857–868). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
    [Google Scholar]
  22. Fitzgerald, J. & Spiegel, D. L.
    (1986) Textual cohesion and coherence in children’s writing. Research in the Teaching of English20(3), 263–280.
    [Google Scholar]
  23. Feak, C. , & Dobson, B.
    (1996) Building on the impromptu: Source-based academic writing assessment. College ESL, 6, 73–84.
    [Google Scholar]
  24. Frost, K. , Elder, C. , & Wigglesworth, G.
    (2011) Investigating the validity of an integrated listening-speaking task: A discourse-based analysis of test takers’ oral performances. Language Testing, 29(3), 345–369.10.1177/0265532211424479
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532211424479 [Google Scholar]
  25. Gebril, A.
    (2009) Score generalizability of academic writing tasks: Does one test method fit it all?Journal of Language Testing, 26, 507–531.10.1177/0265532209340188
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532209340188 [Google Scholar]
  26. Gabri, A. & Plakins, L.
    (2013) Toward a transparent construct of reading-to-write tasks: The interface between discourse features and proficiency. Language Assessment Quarterly, 10(1), 9–27.10.1080/15434303.2011.642040
    https://doi.org/10.1080/15434303.2011.642040 [Google Scholar]
  27. Hall, J. K. , & Doehler, P. S.
    (2011) L2 interactional competence and development. In J. K. Hall , J. Hellermann , & P. S. Doehler (Eds.), L2 interactional competence and development (pp.1–18). Clevedon: Multilingual Matters.
    [Google Scholar]
  28. Halliday, M. A. K. & Hasan, R.
    (1976) Cohesion in English. New York: Routledge.
  29. Hamp-Lyons, L.
    (1991) Scoring procedures for ESL context. In L. Hamp-Lyons (Ed.), Assessing second language writing (pp.241–277). Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  30. Hymes, D. H.
    (1972) On communicative competence. In J. B. Pride & J. Holmes (Eds.), Sociolinguistics (pp.269–293). London: Penguin.
    [Google Scholar]
  31. (1972) Toward ethnographies of communication. In P. P. Giglioli (Ed.), Language and social context (pp.21–44). Harmondsworth: Penguin.
    [Google Scholar]
  32. Iwashita, N. and Liem, I.
    (2005) Factors affecting second language achievement in primary school. Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, 28 (1): 36–51.10.1075/aral.28.1.03iwa
    https://doi.org/10.1075/aral.28.1.03iwa [Google Scholar]
  33. Kang, J. Y.
    (2005) Written narratives as an index of L2 competence in Korean EFL learners. Journal of Second Language Writing, 14, 259–27910.1016/j.jslw.2005.10.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jslw.2005.10.002 [Google Scholar]
  34. Knoch, U.
    (2009) Rating scales for diagnostic assessment of writing: What should they look like and where should
 the criteria come from?Assessing Writing, 16, 81–96.10.1016/j.asw.2011.02.003
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2011.02.003 [Google Scholar]
  35. Kramsch, C.
    (1986) From language proficiency to interactional competence. The Modern Language Journal, 70(4), 366–371.10.1111/j.1540‑4781.1986.tb05291.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.1986.tb05291.x [Google Scholar]
  36. (2006) From communicative competence to symbolic competence. The Modern Language Journal, 90, 249–252.10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2006.00395_3.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2006.00395_3.x [Google Scholar]
  37. (2014) Teaching foreign languages in the era of globalization. The Modern Language Journal, 98 (Special Issue 1), 296–311.10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2014.12057.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2014.12057.x [Google Scholar]
  38. Kunnan, A. J.
    (1998) Approaches to validation in language assessment. In A. J. Kunnan (Ed.), Validation in language assessment (pp.1–16). Mahwah, NJ: LEA.
    [Google Scholar]
  39. Lee, Y.
    (2006) Dependability of scores for a new ESL speaking assessment consisting of integrated and independent tasks. Language Testing, 23, 131–166.10.1191/0265532206lt325oa
    https://doi.org/10.1191/0265532206lt325oa [Google Scholar]
  40. Lewkowicz, J. A.
    (1997) The integrated testing of a second language. In C. Clapham & D. Corson (Eds.), Encyclopaedia of language and education (vol.7): Language testing and assessment (pp.121–130). Dortrecht: Kluwer.10.1007/978‑1‑4020‑4489‑2_12
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-4489-2_12 [Google Scholar]
  41. Magnan, S. S.
    (2007) Reconsidering communicative language teaching for national goals. The Modern Language Journal, 91(2), 249–252.10.1111/j.1540‑4781.2007.00543_3.x
    https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1540-4781.2007.00543_3.x [Google Scholar]
  42. McNamara, T.
    (1996) Measuring second language performance. London: Longman.
    [Google Scholar]
  43. Neustupný, J. V.
    (1989) Strategies for Asia and Japan literacy. (Papers of the Japanese Studies Centre). Melbourne, Japanese Studies Centre.
    [Google Scholar]
  44. Plakans, L.
    (2008) Comparing composing processes in writing-only and reading-to-write test tasks. Assessing Writing, 13, 111–129.10.1016/j.asw.2008.07.001
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2008.07.001 [Google Scholar]
  45. (2009) Discourse synthesis in integrated second language writing assessment. Language Testing, 26, 561–587.10.1177/0265532209340192
    https://doi.org/10.1177/0265532209340192 [Google Scholar]
  46. Purpura, J.
    (2008) Assessing communicative language ability: Models and their components. In E. Shonany & N. H. Hornberger (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education (2nd. Ed., Vol.7): Language testing and assessment (pp.53–68). New York: Springer.10.1007/978‑0‑387‑30424‑3_167
    https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-30424-3_167 [Google Scholar]
  47. Read, J.
    (1990) Providing relevant content in an EAP writing test. English for Specific Purposes, 9, 109–121.10.1016/0889‑4906(90)90002‑T
    https://doi.org/10.1016/0889-4906(90)90002-T [Google Scholar]
  48. Savignon, S.
    (1997) Communicative competence: Theory and classroom practice. London: McGraw-Hill.
    [Google Scholar]
  49. Scarino, A. , Elder, C. , Iwashita, N. , Kim, S. , Kohler, M. , & Scrimgeour, A.
    (2011) Student achievement in Asian languages education – part 1: Project report. Canberra: Australian Government, Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations. Retrieved fromwww.saale.unisa.edu.au/doclib/Part_I_all.pdf
    [Google Scholar]
  50. Scarino, A.
    (2017) Culture and Language Assessment. In E. Shohamy , I. G. Or and S. May (Eds.), Encyclopedia of language and education: Volume 7: Language testing and assessment, 3rd edition (pp.15–31) Cham, Springer International Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  51. Schneider, M. & Connor, U.
    (1990) Analyzing topical structure in ESL essays: Not all topics are equal. Studies in Second Language Acquisition, 12, 411–12710.1017/S0272263100009505
    https://doi.org/10.1017/S0272263100009505 [Google Scholar]
  52. Sugimoto, N.
    (1997) A Japan-U.S. comparison of apology styles. Communication Research, 24, 349–369.10.1177/009365097024004002
    https://doi.org/10.1177/009365097024004002 [Google Scholar]
  53. Sweedler-Brown, C. O.
    (1993) ESL essay evaluation: The influence of sentence-level and rhetorical features. Journal of Second Language Writing, 2(1), 3–17.10.1016/1060‑3743(93)90003‑L
    https://doi.org/10.1016/1060-3743(93)90003-L [Google Scholar]
  54. Tedick, D. J. , & Mathison, M. A.
    (1995) Holistic scoring in ESL writing assessment: What does an analysis of rhetorical features reveal?. In D. D. Belcher & G. Braine (Eds.), Academic writing in a second language: Essays on research and pedagogy (pp.205–230). Norwood, NJ: Ablex Publishing.
    [Google Scholar]
  55. Weigle, S.
    (2004) Integrating reading and writing in a competency test for non-native speakers of English. Assessing Writing, 9(1), 27–55.10.1016/j.asw.2004.01.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2004.01.002 [Google Scholar]
  56. Widdowson, H.
    (1978) Teaching language as communication. London: OUP.
    [Google Scholar]
  57. Wiseman, C. S.
    (2012) A comparison of the performance of analytic vs. holistic scoring rubrics to assess L2 writing. Iranian Journal of Language Testing, 2(1), 59–92.
    [Google Scholar]
  58. Witte, S. P. , & Faigley, L.
    (1981) Coherence, cohesion and writing quality. College Composition and Communication, 22, 189–204.10.2307/356693
    https://doi.org/10.2307/356693 [Google Scholar]
  59. Young, R.
    (2011) Interactional competence in language learning, teaching, and testing. In H. Hinkel (Ed.), Handbook of research in language learning and teaching (pp.426–443). New York: Routledge.
    [Google Scholar]
  60. Yu, G.
    (2009) The shifting sands in the effects of source text summarizability on summary writing. Assessing Writing, 14, 116–137.10.1016/j.asw.2009.04.002
    https://doi.org/10.1016/j.asw.2009.04.002 [Google Scholar]
  61. Zhang, B. , Xiao, Y. , & Luo, J.
    (2015) Rater reliability and score discrepancy under holistic and analytic scoring of second language writing. Language Testing in Asia, 5, 5–13.10.1186/s40468‑015‑0014‑4
    https://doi.org/10.1186/s40468-015-0014-4 [Google Scholar]

Data & Media loading...

This is a required field
Please enter a valid email address
Approval was successful
Invalid data
An Error Occurred
Approval was partially successful, following selected items could not be processed due to error