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Background: This study aims to develop a test for assessing pragmatic comprehension ability in Chinese as a second language (L2). Following the framework of an argument-based approach to test validation, this study attempts to obtain backing for the Evaluation and Explanation inferences.

Methods: Test items were developed based on two sources of authentic language use (i.e., field notes and a corpus of natural language use). Following a series of piloting, 107 examinees of L2 Chinese completed the test (k = 39) in the main study. Among them, nine examinees had retrospective interviews that probed the knowledge, strategies and processes involved in completing the test.

Results: The assumption underlying the Evaluation inference was supported by satisfactory statistical characteristics of the test (e.g., item/test difficulty, item discrimination, distractor functioning, and item/person fit); moreover, the two assumptions associated with the Explanation inference were backed by quantitative and qualitative evidence demonstrating that variations in test performance were attributable to the targeted construct of pragmatic comprehension ability.

Conclusion: The test appears to be a reliable instrument for assessing pragmatic comprehension ability in L2 Chinese. The test results can be used to inform decisionmaking on curriculum development for interested Chinese programs.


Originally published in:

Li, Shuai. 2018. “Developing a Test of L2 Chinese Pragmatic Comprehension Ability.” Language Testing in Asia 8 (1): 3.


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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.