GENDER AND ETHNIC FACTORS IN ORAL PROFICIENCY ASSESSMENT: "CAN DO" AND "CAN'T DO"
The main purpose of this exploratory study is to determine the relationship between the test takers' ethnic background and gender and the efficacy of oral proficiency testing. The methodology includes (1) theoretical analyses in testology, interdidactics, linguodidactics, cognitive science, psychology, sociology, cultural anthropology, methods of teaching foreign languages in the aspect of the research problem; (2) interviewing the test takers, the test developers and the testers, didactic analyses of 60 videotapes of oral proficiency testing, as well as self-evaluation of the testees; (3) methods of statistical analysis, which was used to verify the findings. 60 native test takers from Syria, Vietnam, Russia, males and females in each group equally, participated at the experimental research. The typical test tasks aimed at oral proficiency assessment, recommended by the State Russian as a Foreign Language Testing System and ACTFL Oral Proficiency Interview, were used. Main results of this study are: (1) there is a strong and significant relationship between the test takers' ethnics and gender, on the one hand, and test performance, on the other hand; (2) certain types of the test tasks provoke the test takers' communicative failures, caused by gender and ethnic blockages, barriers and taboos on realization of discourse and behavioral strategies; (3) these communicative misfits may not be corrected or eliminated by didactic means, e.g. or special training, since they are determined by ethnic moral norms and standards. The results of the study may be implemented in the system of teaching foreign languages and language proficiency testing, they may be useful for the test developers, the test administrators and foreign language teachers.