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WASHBACK OF THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEST OF THE STATE EXAMINATIONS IN COLOMBIA: A CASE STUDY

Abstract

In the year 2000 a new competence-based State Examination for the Admission into Higher Education was introduced in Colombia. With it, the Foreign Language Test became for the first time an obligatory component, thus officially raising the status of this area of study for the first time. Four years have elapsed since then, so the natural question is whether the test has had any impact on the teaching of English in the country.  This aspect of a test, that is, its effect on the teaching and learning, generally known as washback, has been recognized as a very complex phenomenon (Alderson and Wall, 1993;  Bailey, 1996; Cheng, 2000; Watanabe, 1997, 2004).  The present study aims at describing the washback effect of the English Test in a public high-school classroom in a school in Barranquilla, Colombia.  The following data were collected and analyzed for that effect: Official document of the Foreign Language Test, the September 2003 and April 2004 tests, classroom observations, interviews with students and teacher, and the English test used in the class.  Though it was not possible to establish that all of what is happening in the context is linked to the introduction of the test,  there is a strong correlation between classroom teaching and evaluating practices, and what the examination measures.  The paper describes how the test is perceived by the participants, what processes it seems to generate, and also some of the products.  Dimensions such as specificity, intensity, and value of the washback are also described.  Finally, the paper discusses some of the factors mediating the process of washback being generated.

How to Cite

Manjarrés N. B., (2005) “WASHBACK OF THE FOREIGN LANGUAGE TEST OF THE STATE EXAMINATIONS IN COLOMBIA: A CASE STUDY”, Journal of Second Language Acquisition and Teaching 12(0). p.1-19.

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Norma Barletta Manjarrés (University of Arizona-Universidad del Norte)

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This article has been peer reviewed.

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