chapter  6
31 Pages


How Two Test Systems in Japan Have Responded to Different Local Needs in the Same Context
WithJamie Dunlea, Todd Fouts, Dan Joyce, Keita Nakamura

All tests constitute a set of compromises in which developers set out to balance the sometimes competing demands of the testing context. This chapter examines the solutions proposed by two testing programs produced by the same test developer in and for the EFL context of Japan. The two programs provide an interesting case study for the issues associated with developing local, or localized, tests precisely because of the different solutions that the test developers have arrived at in response to different testing purposes. These examples suggest that the concepts of local and global are not black-and-white choices between opposing extremes. They also illustrate the important intersection between proficiency levels targeted and the need to “localize” content for specific populations. This has implications for the adaptation of frameworks such as the CEFR for local contexts (whether in or outside Europe). In the CEFR, for example, lower levels such as A1—A2 can be said to be always local, with key words such as everyday, routine, and familiar defining them. From the pivotal B1 level upwards, however, the level descriptions, and intended uses, become more outwardly focused. The appropriate balance, then, between local and global is not necessarily determined by the geographical context in which a test is developed but is better seen as deriving from the relationship between the test and its intended uses within that context.