Post-secondary educators' perspectives on EFL assessment methods in South Korea

Walsh, Patrick (2017) Post-secondary educators' perspectives on EFL assessment methods in South Korea. Masters thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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In Korea there has been a long tradition of using standardized tests to facilitate advancement. With the drastic increase in English and a Foreign Language (EFL) studies in the country, English proficiency tests also gained popularity as a way to differentiate ones English ability. High scores on English proficiency tests became a requirement for any person applying for work in many of the major corporations and educational intuitions in Korea. Popular proficiency tests such as the Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC), and the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) have become a major concern for students in post-secondary institutions as gaining high grades on these tests has a large impact on their future prospects. Research on TOEIC and TOEFL testing tends to have a student centric approach to data collection. This research explores the feelings, perceptions, and opinions of post-secondary EFL educators in Korea and the effects English proficiency testing has on the Korean post-secondary environment. The educators were asked about their experience with Korean testing culture, their opinions of proficiency tests such as TOEIC and TOEFL, and the perceived impact these tests have on students, curriculum, or teaching styles. Educators were also asked about teaching methods and assessment techniques that they saw as most beneficial to language acquisition. Email interviews were held with eighteen post-secondary EFL instructors who teach or have taught in the Korean post-secondary system. The findings show educators believed that there is a general focus on test scores over fluency and they question the ability of the prominent proficiency tests to accurately gauge ones language abilities. These tests and the importance they have for students in Korea was seen to cause much negative washback such as stress, anxiety, and depression and the for-profit nature of these tests was criticized by participants. The negative attitude displayed raise questions about the effectiveness of the current systems and educators argued that alternative teaching and assessment strategies that utilize communicative skills and engage their students to interact in English should be researched to help improve overall fluency in the post-secondary environment.

Item Type: Thesis (Masters)
Item ID: 12723
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 167-174).
Keywords: TOEIC, EFL, South Korea, Washback, TOEFL
Department(s): Education, Faculty of
Date: October 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Language and languages -- Study and teaching -- South Korea; Language and languages -- Ability testing -- South Korea; College teachers -- South Korea

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