Second Language Studies: Acquisition, Learning, Education and Technology

Tokyo, Japan
September 22-24, 2010

Automatic Tests of Spoken Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese; and 4-Skills Testing in English

Jared Bernstein, Jian Cheng, Elizabeth Rosenfeld

Pearson KT, Palo Alto, California, USA

A fully automatic system administers proficiency tests for several languages. Scoring of speech is based on ASR and other speech processing technology. Tests are administered on-demand by telephone or computer anywhere in the world, then the test-takers’ responses are automatically processed and diagnostic and overall scores are returned on the web. Spoken English, Spanish and Arabic tests are commercially available; a Spoken Chinese test will be demonstrated, but is not yet fully operational. These tests last about 15 minutes and offer 60-70 listen-speak items scored for grammar, vocabulary, fluency, and pronunciation. The system derives scores from response content and the timing and spectral information in the spoken productions. An automated 4-skill test of English (Versant Pro) measures listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. It assesses spoken and written English as used in many workplace settings including phone conversations, discussions, negotiations, note-taking at meetings, writing summaries, and responding to emails. Versant-Pro covers speaking skills, listening and reading comprehension, as well as as grammar, vocabulary, organization, and tone in writing. An oral reading fluency test called ORF measures English fluency in reading aloud. All six tests are available for demonstration. Ample evidence of score reliability and validity is available.

Bibliographic reference.  Bernstein, Jared / Cheng, Jian / Rosenfeld, Elizabeth (2010): "Automatic tests of spoken Spanish, Arabic, and Chinese; and 4-skills testing in English", In L2WS-2010, paper D2-6 (abstract).