- Language proficiency in native and nonnative speakers: an agenda for research and suggestions for second-language assessment
- Language Assessment Quarterly
- Volume | Issue number
- 8 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Humanities (FGw)
- Amsterdam Center for Language and Communication (ACLC)
This paper addresses the question of what language proficiency (LP) is, both theoretically and empirically. It does so my making a distinction, on the one hand, between basic and higher language cognition, and, on the other hand, between core and peripheral components of LP. The paper furthermore critically examines the notion of level in most second-language (L2) assessment scales, showing that it is confounded with people’s intellectual functioning because higher levels of LP cannot be attained by people with lower intellectual, educational, occupational or leisure-time profiles . It is probably for this reason that the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (Council of Europe, 2001) fails to consistently distinguish between L2 development and L2 proficiency. The LP construct presented in this paper can account for the fact that L2 learners with higher intellectual, educational, occupational or leisure-time profiles may perform, at a given point in time, both better (i.e., in the domain of higher language cognition) and more poorly (i.e., in the domain of basic language cognition) than native speakers with lower profiles . While offering a research agenda for investigating individual differences in first and second language acquisition, the paper also presents several implications for L2 assessment.
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