The sentence repetition test (SRT) revisited: evaluation of the SRT against the Second Language Oral Proficiency Evaluation (SLOPE) as an assessment tool for community bilingual proficiency

Statement of Responsibility:
Hatfield, Deborah H., Marie C. South and Stuart D. Showalter

Development of a Sentence Repetition Test (SRT) (Radloff 1991) has resulted in wide employment of this efficient technique for estimating the bilingual proficiency profile of an entire community. The accepted standard is the Oral Proficiency Interview as developed by the U.S. Foreign Service Institute. The Second Language Oral Proficiency Evaluation (SLOPE) was adapted from it by SIL (1987) to be used in preliterate societies. Because of the obvious practical advantages associated with conducting SRT over SLOPE, two tests were conducted in Cameroon comparing SRT results to those of SLOPE where Cameroon French was the second language being tested (South 2007). A comparison of SLOPE and SRT was also conducted in Burkina Faso where Jula was the second language (Showalter, to appear) In late 2000, seven people knowledgeable in testing and familiar with the foregoing tests came together to examine the results. The stated goal of the roundtable was to have assurance that:

  • SRT is a valid tool to measure proficiency of a community, distinguishing adequately those who are below ILR level 3 from those who are level 3 and above.
  • Of somewhat lesser importance, it is also good to measure the distribution of a representative sample of the population.

To have this assurance there needs to be a consensus from each of the participants and a meeting report must be one that each participant can support. Failing that, a clear report on the limits to the use of SRT must be prepared.

It was the consensus of the Roundtable that there is no single test, including SLOPE, that will give second language proficiency data that can be used as the only deciding factor in language development needs assessment. The results from an SRT, however, can provide important information on the L2 abilities of members of a speech community.

13 pages
Intelligibility testing
Burkina Faso
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