Comprehensibility at Phonologic Level (Sound, Word and Utterance Level)

Comprehensibility in Language Testing - Parvaneh Tavakoli

Parvaneh Tavakoli [+-]
University of Reading
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Parvaneh Tavakoli is a Professor of Applied Linguistics at the University of Reading. Parvaneh's main research interest lies in the interface of second language acquisition, language teaching, and language testing. Parvaneh has led several international research projects investigating the effects of task and task design on performance, acquisition, assessment and policy in different contexts. Her research has been published in prestigious peer-reviewed journals and books.
Sheryl Cooke [+-]
British Council
Sheryl Cooke is Director of the British Council’s East Asia Assessment Solutions Team, leading on language assessment projects and stakeholder engagement across the region, including needs analyses, language assessment literacy training, test development, post-test services and teacher support. Sheryl has 20 years’ experience in language assessment and her qualifications include an MA Language Testing (Lancaster University) and an MA Linguistics (SOAS). She is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Jyväskylä (Finland), focusing on automated assessment of spoken English and the potential implications for English as a Lingua Franca, and she has presented at leading regional and international conferences on this topic. Research interests include assessment of speaking, particularly accent and pronunciation, the use of new technologies in language testing and the ethics of language assessment in the global context.


This chapter focuses on the more traditional scope of the comprehensibility/intelligibility construct and takes an analytical approach to examining evidence related to phonemic and prosodic linguistic components affecting comprehensibility of spoken language. An overview of the features that have been identified by previous studies is presented and categorised (e.g. Isaacs & Harding, 2017; Isaacs & Trofimovich, 2012), including those occurring at phoneme level (articulation), word level (segmental units, word stress) and sentence level (intonation, pitch, fluency). The features are then examined from three key perspectives: a) reported impact on comprehensibility b) how the features are reflected in rating scales c) whether the features are L1-dependent

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Tavakoli, Parvaneh; Cooke, Sheryl. Comprehensibility at Phonologic Level (Sound, Word and Utterance Level). Comprehensibility in Language Testing. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. May 2023. ISBN 9780000000000. Date accessed: 29 Oct 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.41098. May 2023

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