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Language aptitude tests

  Tags: Placement Test
 Language Learning Forum : Immersion, Schools & Certificates Post Reply
10 messages over 2 pages: 1
Senior Member
United States
Joined 6964 days ago

752 posts - 1661 votes 
Studies: Uzbek

 Message 9 of 10
21 August 2015 at 3:54pm | IP Logged 
I took the same language aptitude test a couple of times many years ago. The first time I took it, I apparently got a perfect score, which greatly impressed those in my group, but my impression at the time was that the test didn't really test language aptitude so much as it tested linguistic sophistication. In other words, a person accustomed to a phonetic alphabet, having some familiarity with grammatical categories used in languages apart from English and the common European languages, etc., would probably score higher than a purely monolingual English speaker with no prior exposure to such things, despite his/her innate aptitude, however defined.

One of the intriguing aspects of the test was the supposed use of Kurdish in a portion of it. Prior to the time I took it the second time, I'd gotten interested in Kurdish, and although I had only minimal knowledge of it at the time (due to the almost total lack of study materials in English), I was pretty confident when I saw the "Kurdish" words on the test that it wasn't Kurdish at all. I tried to remember some of the "Kurdish" words to check and see afterwards. One of the "Kurdish" words on the test was "ɳoɳɑ", allegedly the word for "frog", which is definitely not the Kurdish word for "frog" (which is "beq") and also is phonologically absurd in Kurdish (a word-initial ɳ). Accordingly, I concluded that the language in question wasn't Kurdish at all, and was likely a purely artificial construct which they for some reason decided to call Kurdish.

The test was reportedly used primarily in order to place students in different language classes, i.e., you needed a fairly high score to be approved to study languages like Arabic, Japanese, Chinese, or Korean.

I think it would be interesting to see to what degree people's actual linguistic achievements were consistent with the test scores, but as noted, my impression was that it tested something other than "aptitude", and naturally there are key characteristics (motivation, dedication, etc.) that wouldn't show up on such a test.
2 persons have voted this message useful

United Kingdom
Joined 3215 days ago

61 posts - 75 votes 
Speaks: English*
Studies: Italian, Spanish
Studies: Dutch

 Message 10 of 10
21 August 2015 at 4:01pm | IP Logged 
During military service, motivation or lack there of, is not a term to be thrown around. What I remember
was you either do the course or end up getting run. When I did it though, it was a voluntary secondment
and not a draft so the people doing the test, actually wanted to be linguists. I know one guy that scored
thesame as me who went on to llearn Arabic.... I say learn...he already knew it but the test was a paper
exercise to get into the role. Perhaps his previous study aided in the high score. No way to tell I don't think.
1 person has voted this message useful

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