n Language Matters : Studies in the Languages of Southern Africa - Assessing academic literacy : a task-based approach




The Test of Academic Literacy Levels (TALL) used by three South African universities (Pretoria, Stellenbosch and North-West) provides a reliable and affordable alternative means of assessing the academic literacy of new entrants into the higher education sector. A close alignment is sought between the test, the task-based language instruction that follows its administration, and the learning and acquisition aimed for. The article critically examines the construct of the test as well as its task types in light of various current discussions about authenticity. The article is concluded by suggesting a number of possible alternative task types that may achieve a closer alignment with the goals embodied in the construct. Various developmental, contextual, administrative and logistical constraints appear, however, to affect the level of resemblance to academic discourse of the test task types.


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