Towards a rating scale for assessing functional adequacy in oral L2 interactions

31 May 2024
Room G1

Towards a rating scale for assessing functional adequacy in oral L2 interactions

The interest in the functional dimension of language and in the pragmatic aspects involved in learning an L2 has begun to find a fruitful systematisation in recent years (Nuzzo, Santoro 2017). Nonetheless, studies relating to the measurement and evaluation of learners’ productions have relied preferentially on CAF indices (complexity, accuracy, fluency) (Pallotti 2009). Although these indices are very useful tools for defining and testing linguistic performance, they do not appear sufficient to verify the adequacy of a text for its communicative purposes (Bridgeman et al. 2011).

To address this lack of attention to the pragmatic dimension in language assessment, Kuiken and Vedder (2017) proposed the concept of Functional adequacy, which is a multifaceted concept that can be defined in terms of successful task completion inspired by the conversational maxims of Grice. Thus, a rating scale has been elaborated to assess both the validity of the concept per se and its applicability for the assessment of L2 performances.

The rating scale, initially developed for writing tasks, has been employed for different types of learners and for different languages. Communication, however, is a two-way and not a one-way process. The present research aims to explore the applicability of the scale for interactive tasks. The scale comprises four dimensions: content; comprehension; task requirements; interaction. The new rating scale for oral interactions has been tested in a pilot study involving three different groups of learners: one of Italian L2 learners and two of Italian LS learners (in Hungary and Poland) of. The groups performed a decision-making task. The performances have been recorded and then evaluated by non-expert native speakers trained to use the scale.

The aim of the paper is to present the concept of Functional adequacy, its applicability to language assessment; the results of the pilot study involving the new rating scale for oral interactions.



Bridgeman, B., Powers, D., Stone E. & Mollan, P. (2012). TOEFL iBT speaking test scores as indicators of oral communicative language proficiency. Language Testing, 29(1), 21-46.

Kuiken F. Vedder I. (2017). Functional adequacy in L2 writing. Towards a new rating scale. Language Testing, 34(3), 321-36.

Nuzzo E., Santoro E. (2017). Apprendimento, insegnamento e uso di competenze pragmatiche in italiano L2/LS: la ricerca a partire dagli anni Duemila. EuroAmerican Journal of Applied Linguistics and Languages, 4(2), 1-27.

Pallotti, G. (2009). CAF: Defining, refining and differentiating constructs. Applied Linguistics, 30(4), 590-601.