This paper discusses an advanced language assessment tool designed to assess university students' linguistic competence in L2. The tool serves the final exam of a course offered to second-year students of English language and literature. Of the three parts of the exam, (1) reading, (2) language awareness, and (3) writing, the third part (language awareness) explicitly addresses students' pragmatic competence.
In the light of our work, assessing students' pragmatic competence is shown to involve the identification of certain levels of competence ensuing from the interpretive routes learners follow in their attempt to (a) interpret the communicator's intention, (b) identify the linguistic devices that lead them to this interpretation, and (c) explicitly verbalize the link between linguistic devices and interpretation. The suggested ranking of levels draws on data from statistical analysis of 190 final exam scripts.
The proposed assessment of pragmatic competence manifested when dealing with written discourse is considered to be an innovative testing tool, because it is a discourse-based approach to testing pragmatic competence, where both explicit and implicit meanings are retrieved by drawing on a naturally-occurring wide range of lexical and grammatical features. More importantly, the proposed assessment constitutes an accurate testing tool because it allows for levels of pragmatic, hence linguistic, competence to naturally unveil in an authentic reading context requesting the reader's spontaneous reaction and contribution to the process of meaning making in L2.
© 2012 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/Boston