Assessing Second Language Proficiency Under ‘Unequal’ Perspectives: A Call for Research in the MENA Region

  • Lee McCallum


The issue of including non-native varieties of English as valid and legitimate norms in language assessments continues to be debated under ‘World Englishes’ and ‘English as a Lingua Franca’ perspectives. This chapter firstly outlines the theoretical debates that are pertinent in the literature and how these issues are directly relevant to the MENA region. The chapter then focuses on how linguistic feature norms can be identified in non-native varieties. The chapter makes specific reference to the value of using traditional and more modern statistical techniques from corpus linguistics and concludes by illuminating existing challenges that remain unresolved in this area of scholarly debate.


Assessment Non-native Features Corpora World Englishes 


  1. Ackermann, K., & Chen, Y. (2013). Developing the academic collocations list (ACL): A corpus-driven and expert-judged approach. Journal of English for Academic Purposes, 12, 235–247.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bamgbose, A. (1987). Language norms. In W. Bahmer, J. Schikit, & D. Viehweger (Eds.), Proceedings of the international congress of linguists (pp. 105–113). Berlin: Akademie-Verlag.Google Scholar
  3. Bamgbose, A. (1998). Torn between the norms: Innovations in world Englishes. World Englishes, 17(1), 1–14.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Benson, M., Benson, E., & Ilson, R. (2009). The BBI combinatory dictionary of English (3rd ed.). Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  5. Bestgen, Y., & Granger, S. (2014). Quantifying the development of phraseological competence in L2 English writing: An automated approach. Journal of Second Language Writing, 26, 28–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bhatt, R. M. (1995). Prescriptivism, creativity and world Englishes. World Englishes, 14(2), 247–259.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Brown, J. D. (2014). The future of world Englishes in language testing. Language Assessment Quarterly, 11(1), 5–26.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Canagarajah, A. S. (2016). TESOL as a professional community: A half-century of pedagogy, research and theory. TESOL Quarterly, 50(1), 7–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Davidson, F. (2009). World Englishes and test construction. In B. B. Kachru, Y. Kachru, & C. L. Nelson (Eds.), The handbook of world Englishes (pp. 709–718). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  10. Davies, A. (2009). Assessing world Englishes. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 29, 80–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davies, A. (2013). Native speakers and native users: Loss and gain. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Davies, M. (2017a). GloWbE. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2017.
  13. Davies, M. (2017b). Mutual information. Available at: Accessed July 16, 2017.
  14. Davies, M., & Fuchs, R. (2015). Expanding horizons in the study of world Englishes with the 1.9-billion-word Global Web-based English corpus (GloWbE). English World-Wide, 36, 1–28.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Deshors, S. C., Götz, S., & Laporte, S. (2016). Linguistic innovations in EFL and ESL. International Journal of Learner Corpus Research, 2(2), 131–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Durrant, P., & Schmitt, N. (2009). To what extent do native and non-native writers make use of collocations? International Review of Applied Linguistics, 47, 157–177.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Fallatah, W. (2016). Features of Saudi English research article abstracts. Arab World English Journal, 7(2), 368–379.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Fussell, B. (2011). The local flavour of English in the Gulf. English Today, 27(4), 26–32.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Gebril, A., & Hozayn, R. (2014). Assessing English in the Middle East and North Africa. In A. J. Kunnan (Ed.), The companion to language assessment: Assessment around the world (pp. 1649–1658). Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.Google Scholar
  20. Gonzalez, A. (1983). When does an error become a feature of Philippine English? In R. B. Noss (Ed.), Varieties of English in Southeast Asia: Selected papers from the RELC Seminar on varieties of English and their implications for English language teaching in Southeast Asia (Vol. 11, pp. 50–172). Singapore: Singapore University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Granger, S., & Bestgen, Y. (2014). The use of collocations by intermediate vs. advanced non-native writers: A bi-gram based study. International Review of Applied Linguistics, 52(3), 229–252.Google Scholar
  22. Gries, S. T. (2008). Dispersions and adjusted frequencies in corpora. International Journal of Corpus Linguistics, 13(4), 403–437.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Groves, J. (2010). Error or feature? The issue of interlanguage and deviations in non-native varieties of English. HKBU Papers in Applied Language Studies, 14, 108–129.Google Scholar
  24. Hamid, O. M. (2014). World Englishes in international proficiency tests. World Englishes, 33(2), 263–277.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hamid, O. M., & Baldauf, R. B. (2013). Second language errors and features of world Englishes. World Englishes, 32(4), 476–494.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Hamid, O. M., Zhu, L., & Baldauf, R. B. (2014). Norms and varieties of English and TESOL teacher agency. Australian Journal of Teacher Education, 39(10), 77–95.Google Scholar
  27. Jenkins, J. (2006). Current perspectives on teaching world Englishes and English as a lingua franca. TESOL Quarterly, 40(1), 157–181.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Jenkins, J. (2009). English as a lingua franca: Attitudes and interpretations. World Englishes, 28(2), 200–207.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Jenkins, J. (2014). English as a lingua franca in the international university: The politics of academic English language policy. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  30. Kachru, B. B. (Ed.). (1982). The other tongue–English across cultures. Urbana: University of Illinois Press.Google Scholar
  31. Kachru, B. B. (1986). The alchemy of English: The spread, functions and models of non-native Englishes. Oxford: Pergamon Press.Google Scholar
  32. Kachru, B. B. (1990). World Englishes and applied linguistics. World Englishes, 9(1), 3–20.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Kilgraff, A., & Rychly, P. (2017). Sketch engine. Available at: Accessed July 12, 2017.
  34. Kim, H. (2006). World Englishes in language testing: A call for research. English Today, 22(4), 32–39.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Kirkpatrick, A., & Deterding, D. (2011). World Englishes. In J. Simpson (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of applied linguistics (pp. 373–388). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
  36. Laporte, S. (2012). Mind the gap! Bridge between world Englishes and learner Englishes in the making. English Text Construction, 5(2), 265–292.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Lowenberg, P. (2000). Non-native varieties and issues of fairness in testing English as a world language. In A. J. Kunnan (Ed.), Fairness and validation in language assessment: Selected papers from the 19th Language Testing Research Colloquium (pp. 43–59). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  38. Lowenberg, P. H. (1992). The marking of ethnicity in Malaysian English literature: Nativization and its functions. World Englishes, 11(2–3), 251–258.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lowenberg, P. H. (2002). Assessing English proficiency in the expanding circle. World Englishes, 21(3), 431–435.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Mackenzie, I. (2014). Lexical innovations: Cromulently embiggening a language. Alicante Journal of English Studies, 27, 91–105.Google Scholar
  41. Mahboob, A., & Elyas, T. (2014). English in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia. World Englishes, 33(1), 128–142.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Mauranen, A. (2012). Exploring ELF: Academic English shaped by non-native speakers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  43. Mauranen, A., Llantada, C. P., & Swales, J. M. (2010). Academic Englishes: A standardized knowledge? In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of world Englishes (pp. 634–653). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  44. Mollin, S. (2006). Euro-English assessing variety status. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.Google Scholar
  45. Nesselhauf, N. (2005). Collocations in a learner corpus: Studies in corpus linguistics (Vol. 14). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  46. Omoniyi, T. (2010). Writing in English(es). In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of world Englishes (pp. 471–490). New York and London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  47. Quirk, R. (1990). Language varieties and standard language. English Today, 6(1), 3–10.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Schneider, G., & Gilquin, G. (2016). Detecting innovations in a parsed corpus of learner English. International Journal of Learner Corpus Research, 2(2), 177–204.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  49. Seargeant, P. (2012). Exploring world Englishes: Language in a global context. New York, NY: Routledge.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  50. Seidlhofer, B. (2004). Research perspectives on teaching English as a lingua franca. Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, 24, 209–239.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  51. Shaw, W. (1981). Asian student attitudes towards English. In L. Smith (Ed.), English for cross-cultural communication (pp. 100–122). New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press.Google Scholar
  52. Syed, Z. (2003). The sociocultural context of ELT in the Gulf. TESOL Quarterly, 37(2), 337–341.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  53. Tomlinson, B. (2010). Which test of which English and why? In A. Kirkpatrick (Ed.), The Routledge handbook of world Englishes (pp. 599–617). London and New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  54. Tupas, F. R. T. (2015). Unequal Englishes: The politics of English today. London: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  55. Van Rooy, B. (2011). A principled distinction between error and conventionalised innovation in African Englishes. In J. Mukherjee & M. Hundt (Eds.), Exploring second language varieties of English and learner Englishes: Bridging a paradigm gap (pp. 189–207). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
  56. VOICE. (2013). The Vienna-Oxford International Corpus of English (version 2.0 XML). Available at: Accessed 30 July 2017.
  57. Wood, D. (2015). Fundamentals of formulaic language: An introduction. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lee McCallum
    • 1
  1. 1.University of ExeterExeterUK

Personalised recommendations