Defining in English : a tool to measure writings abilities

Purificación Sánchez, Pilar Aguado Jiménez


Drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting, defining, explaining reasons and purposes, speculating and verifying, inferring and implying and other patterns of writing organisation, are the very matter of communication, whether in the form of everyday conversation or more highly specialised uses of language. These functions of language could be used to measure foreign language students' capability in different skills, writing for instance. This paper deals with the ability to write definitions, as an alternative to essay writing, of the students of English Language in the 1st year of English Philology at the University of Murcia. They were asked to define 10 words accurately chosen from the vocabulary lists published by Nation (1999). The results obtained have been used as a parameter to measure their writing ability. Significant correlations have been found between the marks obtained in the Oxford Placement Test performed at the beginning of the semester and those in our test based on definitions. We propose that definitions be considered as a parameter to check the writing abilities of the students and as a complement to the Oxford Placement Test

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© Universidad de La Rioja, 2013

ISSN 1576-6357

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