Testing and assessing reading and listening comprehension pose many challenges in that they are internal processes and their assessment requires samples of external behaviour. This can happen by overt verbal behaviour (speaking and writing) and/or non-verbal behaviour.  Listening and reading are also very complex processes. Consequently, constructing tasks that elicit relevant evidence of comprehension is demanding.

In evolutionary terms, speech predates writing. All communities have speech but not all languages even now have writing, which emerged only a few thousand years ago. Speaking and writing have similar functions but writing as a new cultural technology (production of texts) had a powerful impact on cognition, communication, schooling, societal and cultural development. The archetype of human communication is face-to-face oral interaction. Advances in information technology have narrowed the original fundamental distance between written and oral communication by allowing writing to simulate in many ways on-line face-to-face oral communication.

In face-to-face oral communication, listening comprehension is closely integrated with speaking.  While listening and reading comprehension share a number of features, listening poses some specific challenges, which arguably makes it harder to assess listening than reading comprehension.

Several taxonomies of listening have been presented over the past fifty year listing a varying number of abilities (10-35) involved in listening comprehension.  They indicate that it is necessary to pay attention to the role of the spoken input text (text types), the listener (skills and knowledge resources), the context (domains of language use) and the purposes of listening.

One issue in assessing listening comprehension is whether to assess it as part of an interactive interview/ discussion or by listening to or watching a recording. Other points regarding the input to consider are eg., length, speed, times listened, kind of language used (eg. text type, accent…).   

As listening comprehension is often appraised by using tasks using questions and other types of items, it is important to be aware that the difficulty of the items varies and it can be purposefully manipulated by varying the text characteristics and the task characteristics.

For a more detailed discussion of issues related to the testing/assessment of listening comprehension that need to be taken into account in each specific context, see the Background paper.

ACTFL | ITT

BIFIE

CIEP

Cambridge English Language Assessment

Goethe Institut | ÖSD

Instituto Cervantes |DELE

Matriculation Examination Finland

National Foreign Language Exam System (KPG)

Saint Petersburg State University

TestDaF-Institut

Unistrasi - CILS

University of Gothenburg | Skolverket

Università per Stranieri di Perugia- CVCL

Filter by Filter by
Institutions
ACTFL | ITT
BIFIE
British Council |Aptis
CIEP
Cambridge English Language Assessment
Euroexam Centre
Goethe Institut | ÖSD
Instituto Cervantes |DELE
Matriculation Examination Finland
National Foreign Language Exam System (KPG)
Saint Petersburg State University
TestDaF-Institut
Unistrasi - CILS
University of Gothenburg | Skolverket
Università per Stranieri di Perugia- CVCL
Languages Languages
Albanian
Altaic languages
Arabic
Armenian
Aromanian
Azerbaijani
Basque
Belarusian
Bosnian
Bulgarian
Catalan
Chinese
Crimean Tatar
Croatian
Czech
Danish
Dutch
English
Estonian
Finnish
French
Gaelic
Galician
Georgian
German
Greek, Modern
Hebrew
Hungarian
Icelandic
Iranian languages
Irish
Italian
Japanese
Latvian
Lezghian
Lithuanian
Luxembourgish
Macedonian
Maltese
Montenegrin
Multiple languages
No linguistic content
Norwegian
Ossetian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Romansh
Romany
Russian
Sami languages
Serbian
Slovak
Slovenian
Spanish
Swedish
Turkish
Ukrainian
Walloon
Welsh
Western Frisian
Levels
A1
A2
B1
B2
C1
C2
Reset Filter