L2 learners’ engagement with high stakes listening tests: Does technology have a beneficial role to play?


  • Martin East
  • Chris King




listening, assessment, technology, scaffolding


In the listening component of the IELTS examination candidates hear the input once, delivered at ‘normal’ speed.  This format for listening can be problematic for test takers who often perceive normal speed input to be too fast for effective comprehension.  The study reported here investigated whether using computer software to slow down the tempo of listening input, without reducing its pitch, makes a difference to test takers in ‘once only’ tests, measured by both their performance in and their perceptions of the test.  In an independent groups design participants (n = 120) took tests reduced in tempo by various amounts.  It was found that slower speed input led to increases in performance.  The slower the speed of delivery the less likely the participants were to perceive the test as difficult and the less speed became an issue.  Although it is unlikely that this technology will lead language testers to modify high-stakes listening test procedures, we conclude that the facility to slow down tempo using freely available technology may be beneficial in classroom and self-directed study contexts as a scaffolding measure as students get used to ‘once only at normal speed’ listening scenarios or prepare for high-stakes tests.


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How to Cite

East, M., & King, C. (2013). L2 learners’ engagement with high stakes listening tests: Does technology have a beneficial role to play?. CALICO Journal, 29(2), 208-223. https://doi.org/10.11139/cj.29.2.208-223