Hiroshima Studies in Language and Language Education Issue 9
2006-03-31 発行


Developing a Strategic Competence Test English for Learners
Tanaka, Masamichi
Communicative competence is thought to consist of several major competences. One of these, namely strategic competence, did not used to get valid attention in foreign language classrooms. However, the importance of developing the strategic competence of students has become a focal point and is now one of the hottest interests among researchers, practitioners, curriculum designers, and text-book writers. This paper presents the theoretical background for designing a 'Strategic Competence Test,' and also gives examples of test items for assessing the strategic competence of learners. The first part of the paper discusses the theoretical issues: (1) 'Strategic competence' is defined as the competence to repair communication breakdowns and to avoid such possibilities. (2) Sub-components for sustaining strategic competence are examined from different fields of research: communication strategies (Tarone, 1981), language learning strategies (Oxford, 1990), and curriculum development (Council of Europe, 1991). (3) The Courses of Study for secondary schools in Japan mention the necessity of developing some fundamental communication strategies to nurture learners' communicative competence. Secondly, specific strategies for assessing foreign language learners' strategic competence are presented based on Celce-Murcia et al. (1995). Some considerations for developing a 'Strategic Competence Test' are as follows: (1) We do not give an oral interview test, which is very authentic but very time-consuming to conduct. Therefore, a written test is used instead. (2) We include as many different strategies in the test as possible so that the results will portray a holistic idea of learners' strategic competence. We make 30 test items for checking 29 different strategies. (3) We use dialogues rather than single independent utterances, because the former are very interactive and test-takers can easily figure out actual situations for language use and its functions. (4) We use a 'multiple-choice question format' so as to save teacher's