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Is Greater Access to English Language Learning Associated With Better Performance on the TOEFL Junior Comprehensive Test? An Exploratory Investigation ELL TOEFL SES

Ling, Guangming; Gu, Lin
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Report Number:
ETS Research Report
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Subject/Key Words:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), TOEFL Junior, Access to Education, English Language Learning (ELL), Test Performance, Socioeconomic Status (SES), Age, Gender, Foreign Countries, Test Scores, Computer Uses in Education, Adolescents


While many researchers have studied the relationship of socioeconomic status (SES) to adult learners' English language proficiency levels, little is known about this relationship for young learners (i.e., teenagers). In this study, we investigated the degree to which access to English language learning, as reflected by learners' SES, is associated with young learners' English language proficiency as measured by the TOEFL Junior Comprehensive test. We analyzed data from 3,053 young English learners (aged 10–16 years) from 9 countries. Data included TOEFL Junior scores and self‐reported SES‐related background information indicating starting age of learning English, number of hours spent learning English in after‐school programs, length of stay in an English‐speaking country, and typing in and learning English on a computer. We found that the latter three factors were significantly associated with TOEFL Junior scores, with substantial variations among countries. These findings suggest that disparities in access to and opportunities for learning may have an impact on young learners' English proficiency levels. However, such relationships should be interpreted in the context of particular countries to arrive at more accurate interpretations and effective decisions in relation to English learning policies and practices.

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