Assessing the Nonverbal Ability of Foreign Language Learners.Report as inadecuate

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This paper discusses a study that sought to design an instrument for assessing the nonverbal ability of foreign language learners. The subjects were 28 educated Japanese non-native speakers (NNS) of English and 20 educated North American native speakers (NS) of English. Materials used were the institutional Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) for linguistic proficiency, the SPEAK test for oral proficiency, and a series of four role plays for the collection of nonverbal data. Proficiency tests were administered to NNS subjects paired according to the results of the TOEFL. NNS and NS subjects performed the three plays in pairs and the fourth with the researcher's NS assistants. Role plays were transcribed and coded for three nonverbal behaviors, head nods, gaze direction changes, and gestures. Descriptive statistics, including reliability and standard error of measurement for the proficiency tests were calculated for the two tests and three nonverbal behaviors in role plays 2 and 3. A significant difference was found for head nods in role play 4. A set of scales for assessing nonverbal ability was constructed on the basis of the quantitative and qualitative analysis of the nonverbal behaviors in the role plays. Results of the study indicate that it is possible to define degrees of nonverbal ability. (Author/JL)

Descriptors: College Faculty, College Students, English (Second Language), Evaluation Methods, Foreign Countries, Higher Education, Language Proficiency, Language Tests, Measures (Individuals), Native Speakers, Nonverbal Communication, Oral Language, Role Playing, Second Language Learning, Statistical Analysis, Testing

Author: Jungheim, Nicholas O.


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