Language Testing and its Washback Effect on Teaching: The ESLC English Language Examination in Focus
This study addresses the issue of the washback effect of language testing on the teaching of the language as well as on the instructional
materials (to be) used. The effect of the ESLC English is examined from this perspective and a recent study to redress the alleged deficiencies of
the said examination presented.
In the mentioned study, a new examination was designed comprising two parts, each of which was intended to be better geared to
each of the two tasks of ESLC English' certifying the completion of secondary school English (as an achievement test), and screening
deserving secondary school leavers for university education (as a proficiency test). In an attempt to satisfy each of these requirements, the
first part sampled the contents, methods, and formats of the secondary school English textbooks and curriculum while the second part simulated
a reasonable sample of the types of real-world academic activities that first year university students would use their English for.
Both parts of the new examination were then administered to over 1000 ESLCE candidates of the 1986/87 academic year. Furthermore, the secondary school English scores of some 300 of these candidates as well as the views of a representative sample of people concerned were gathered.
Both the empirical and judgemental investigations revealed that the first part of the new examination was better than the currently used
one as both an achievement and a proficiency test, whereas the second part was better at predicting university performance. Moreover, a
combination of the candidates' secondary school English scores and any of the two parts of the new examination was found to be better in this
aspect than any of the individual score used in the study.