Phonological awareness in L2 English: Exploring response patterns, scoring options, and error types on CTOPP deletion

Phonological awareness in L2 English: Exploring response patterns, scoring options, and error types on CTOPP deletion

First Author: Katherine Martin -- Southern Illinois University
Keywords: Phonological awareness, Adult Students, Assessment, E2L
Abstract / Summary: 

Purpose: Phonological awareness (PA) is a crucial skill for literacy development (Ziegler & Goswami 2005) and standardized PA tests are widely used in both first language (L1) and second language (L2) literacy research, e.g., the Comprehensive Test of Phonological Processing (CTOPP; Wagner & Torgesen 1999). However, such assessments are typically developed for and normed primarily with elementary- and secondary-level L1 English speakers, raising questions about their validity for adult L2 speakers. Addressing this issue, a detailed analysis of responses to the Deletion subtest of the CTOPP is presented, including accuracy, scoring options, and error patterns.

Method: In Study 1 data were analyzed from 187 participants (158 L2 English, 29 L1 English). In Study 2 data were analyzed from 65 participants (43 L2 English, 22 L1 English). All were university-age students who completed the CTOPP Deletion subtest. Errors were classified into six categories based on their number and phonological characteristics. Strict and lenient accuracy was also scored.

Results: As expected, accuracy on the Deletion task was significantly lower for L2 English speakers than L1 speakers (p<.01). The pattern of errors also varied, between L2 vs L1 speakers and among L2 speakers with different L1s. For example, L2 speakers deleted the whole second syllable (rather than a medial consonant) at a rate over six times that of L1 speakers, and single segment errors were most frequent among speakers with a morphosyllabic L1.

Conclusions: Lower accuracy may be expected among L2 speakers, yet the varying patterns of errors indicate some items may be less effective when assessing L2 speakers. A detailed error analysis, suggestions for improving items based on L2-specific error patterns, and a discussion of challenges faced when scoring L2 data (e.g., accommodating accents) will be presented. Specific error patterns will also be connected to existing PA research in L2 English speakers.