Hiroshima Studies in Language and Language Education Issue 3
2000-03-31 発行

More Discoveries : The English Listening and Reading Ability of Freshmen

In order to provide a high-quality English program, it is crucial for administrators to know about the abilities of students. This study attempts to describe the English listening and reading abilities of freshmen at Hiroshima University. Nine weeks after the start of the first semester in 1999, almost all of the freshmen students- about 2,000- were given a 15-minute listening test and a 20-minute reading test so that highly proficient students could be placed in higher-level courses in the second semester. A total of 415 students' test answer sheets were randomly selected and analyzed. The students represented 10 different faculties. Importantly, this paper expands on the results of a study which was carried out the previous year on the same type of population using a similar test (Lauer, 1999). The four most noteworthy findings in this most-recent study were: 1) On the listening test, the causative form get (someone) to do (something) was troubling for students, as were certain vocabulary terms such as drop it off at, notified, accepted, must be, a load off his mind, thick (in relation to soup), consistency, and math. Also, inference listening questions were hard; 2) On the reading test, for the second year in a row students had a lot of success identifying the main ideas of passages, and finding specific facts in passages. They had significantly more difficulty with inference questions (p<.01); 3) Female students scored significantly higher than male students on both the listening test (p<.01) and the reading test (p<.01); 4) Question types which differentiate high-scoring students from low-scoring students were identified. The results suggest important implications for teaching freshmen students, and for the learning of English. For example, "an ideal test" could be made.