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Effects of Language of Administration on a Self-Assessment of Language Skills TOEFL ESL

Roever, Carsten; Powers, Donald E.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
RM-04-06, TOEFL-MS-27
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), English as a Second Language (ESL), Self-Assessment, Language Skills, Language Testing


Self-assessments of English language skills have proven useful in a variety of settings. One threat to the validity of such assessments, however, is that responses may differ in meaning according to whether the assessment is administered in English or in the respondent's native language. This study investigated the effect of administering a self-assessment of English language skills in English versus in the self-assessor's native language. Study participants—115 volunteers located at test sites in Germany, Mexico, Korea, and Taiwan—completed self-assessments in both their native languages and English. The results revealed comparable responses in both languages in terms of reliability, level, and variation. Most important, the correlations between self-assessment scales given in English and those given in participants' native languages were virtually perfect when corrected for attenuation due to unreliability.

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