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Tests of Language Proficiency Malayalam: For Secondary (Standard X) Level

Tests of Language Proficiency Malayalam: For Secondary (Standard X) Level
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Item Code: MZG420
Author: Pon Subbiah
Publisher: Central Institute Of Indian Languages, Mysore
Language: Malayalam
Edition: 2005
ISBN: 8173421404
Pages: 342
Other Details: 9.00 X 7.00 inch

The partial fulfilment of the objectives of the Institute, the Evaluation Unit has undertaken a series of Programmes not only to identify the thrust areas of requirement but also to develop specialized materials in those areas in various Indian languages. The materials thus developed under the category of Special Purpose Assessment Tools are being brought out in different series.

Item resources developed for the construction of proficiency tests at the level of standard X are included in the Proficiency Test Series. The tools meant for the assessment of various in house-programmes such as Refresher Courses, National Integration Camps, Contact-cum-Correspondence Courses, Programmes of teaching Indian languages as L, and their instructional materials are included under the Programme Evaluation Series. These are available mostly in English. Similarly, the item samples developed for the construction of graded tests of general ability in language & literature applicable to all the seven levels of general education viz., primary, upper primary, secondary, higher secondary, graduate, post-graduate, and research, are included in the General Ability Test Series.

The present volume is one of the constituents of the Proficiency Test Series. The original suggestion to create a series of studies in proficiency as is being presented now came from the Ministry (1989) at the instance of the then Minister of Human Resource Development. The work initiated accordingly at the secondary education level (std. X) continued for several years till it was completed in all the fourteen major Indian languages viz., Assamese, Bengali, Gujarati, Hindi, Kannada. Kashmiri, Malayalam, Marathi. Oriya, Punjabi, Sindhi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu.

There was difficulty in arriving at a consensus on the format as the concept of language proficiency continued to be a controversial issue. One of the issues of concern is the question of how a mastery is acquired when a well founded course of Study involving language competence, cultural insight, and literary acquaintances is completed - based on which tests are developed. The other one is concerned with the view that proficiency is a reflection of a candidate’s mastery of specific skills and content deemed pre-requisites for a particular job.

Proficiency as a concept is also differentiated from other related concepts such as achievement, aptitude, etc. The concept of achievement is stated to be the extent of learning of the material presented in a particular course or programme of instruction. The learning achievement is usually reported either with reference to the other students of the class (norm referenced) or with reference to a particular learning material (criterion referenced). The concept of aptitude, on the other hand refers to the prediction of potentiality or readiness or likely success of the examinee in a particular area of learning, employment, etc. Not withstanding the perceptions of all these concepts, a common format was evolved and on the basis of the consensus arrived at item samples for assessing proficiency were prepared and included in these volumes. These samples can be used for constructing tests of different lengths and time with necessary modifications. A flexible approach has been suggested for the test constructor who 1s free to fix up the objectives on the basis of his own perception and priority. Thus, the models provided may be used for developing tests to effectively explore the terrain of language proficiency for education and employment purposes by various organizations that require its assessment. The important point is that this series of materials employ a common frame consisting the content areas such as main idea, sequence, cause and effect, inferences, etc., which are quite innovatively cultivated. Divided into seven parts, the item samples provided here focus on various aspects of proficiency. It goes without saying that advanced users of this material will find their own ways of creating more such question items specifically suited to their contexts based on what they find in these item resources. Such explorations and additions will only enrich the field. Much of what we see here has resulted from a series of workshops and meetings and as a consequence of continued efforts.

I would like to appreciate the efforts of the Series Editor and all those individual experts who have contributed the item resources with so much of care and imagination. A number of senior scholars including former Directors and Deputy Directors of the Institute have been involved in this project.

I am sure the students, teachers, and language evaluators in this part of the world will find this series of books very useful.


"General proficiency in the context of education is perceived as the degree of ability already acquired; skill in a comprehensive sense, including not only motor or manual activities but also activities such as competence in language, book keeping, economics, mathematics, etc." (Good, Carter V: 1959). However, proficiency as a concept has not yet found a completely satisfactory expression in language education. Different interpretations of this concept have been aptly summarized by Stern (1983). The summary consists of two sets of options. One set relates to the Levels of proficiency-the different degrees of actual or required mastery of the language. This is what rating scales postulate, and inter-language studies (or error analysis) investigate. The other set relates to the components (essential characteristics) of proficiency. Both these options can be seen as expressed in relatively general or abstract terms, or itemized in increasingly concrete ways.

Oller (1976) has opted for a single concept-expression of proficiency as expectancy grammar, Cummins (1979) recognized a two fold division between a more academic (linguistic) and a more communicative component. Canale and Swain’s (1980) division of proficiency is three fold with linguistic (grammatical), socio-linguistic, and strategic competence. A four fold Interpretation, implicitly incorporating the formal mastery (form), semantic mastery (meaning), communication capacity and creativity into the traditional divisions of proficiency viz., listening, speaking, reading, and writing (L,5,R,W) is advocated by Stern (1983). The Council of Europe Inventories represent a multiple interpretation of proficiency combining roles, settings, topics, functions and notions while Carroll’s (1968) analysis relates the proficiency to a concept involving four behavioural aspects (L,S,R,W) to three or more linguistic categories. Thus, it is found in the literature on language evaluation that a number of attempts have been made to explore the dimensions of proficiency but none of them appears to have had universal acceptance.

In the light of these interpretations, language proficiency was visualized as a tool used for predicting how well an individual, after certain number of years of normal education, could communicate in a content free and context- free manner across a wide variety of situations. It was also presumed that such a measure would test the knowledge of language in use abstracted from content based instruction.

It was with this background that a workshop on review & developing guidelines for the preparation of proficiency items was organised at the Eastern Regional Language Centre, Bhubaneshwar from Nov. 25 - 29, 1985. During the course of the proceedings, a review of existing tests was first taken up in the light of the syllabi being followed at the secondary level (std. X) of general education in different Indian languages. After a series of deliberations among the linguists and litterateurs representing Bengali, Marathi, Punjabi, Tamil, Telugu, and Urdu, it was decided to formulate a set of guidelines for the preparation of tests of language proficiency with certain samples of item models. The idea behind this was to identify the structure and the levels of language proficiency that could be assessed by a set of item samples (to be assembled by drawing academic resources from the text books of standards, and also of other reading materials of the comparable standard).

Accordingly, the concept of proficiency was considered as a combination of seven domains (dimensional areas) with each of them having a number of content components. They are assumed to be assessed through the suggested models of question items. Accordingly, question / item models which deal with main idea, direct information, sequence, cause & effect, inference, and vocabulary - have been suggested for assessing READING COMPREHENSION, the first of the seven domains. Items dealing with lexical meaning, contextual meaning, synonyms, and antonyms - are suggested for LEXICAL SKILLS (vocabulary), the second domain. For the third one STRUCTURE, items dealing with sequence completion, error detection, sentence comprehension, transformation, and formal grammar have been suggested. Similarly for the next domain WRITING AND COMPOSITION, those dealing with spelling, idioms & proverbs, prices writing, text organization, and letter writing & composition are suggested. However, in respect of fifth, sixth, and seventh domains Viz., LISTENING COMPREHENSION, SPEAKING, and GENERAL LANGUAGE RELATED INFORMATION, the decision of specifying the content components and the corresponding item models has been left to the choice of item writers in view of the familiarization of the areas. All these suggestions are herewith made with appropriate examples.

Subject experts representing 14 major Indian languages were at a later stage requested to prepare additional resources in equivalent forms of the models suggested through a decentralized workshop [staying in their own places]. Subsequently, the item resources prepared by various experts were pooled together, reviewed, and finalized in different phases of a centralized workshop held at the, CIIL, Mysore, during 1986-88. These finalised question items have then been classified and incorporated under each of the seven dimensional areas, in the same sequential order as specified in the common format. [Such a sequence, however has not strictly been followed in some languages included in this series]. The assumption is that the responses so obtained can be quantified by adopting appropriate scaling procedures and the outcome can be treated as the indicatives of measures of language proficiency that exist in the examinee.

It is suggested that by keeping this material as a source, optimized tests of required length and time, may be constructed and made use of by any agency which seeks to assess language proficiency of a large number of individuals for such purposes as admissions into higher education, job selection, training, and also for assessing various programmes of language instruction. The item resources provided here, are meant primarily for assessment and not for diagnostic purposes. They may also be adopted for screening purposes and for which more elaborate forms of diagnostic tools may be required. It may also be noted that the tests constructed out of these item resources seek to evaluate individual’s proficiency in relation to group norm and as such permit norm-referenced interpretations.

**Contents and Sample Pages**

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