DIALANG tests and results

Updated 13 October 2011

Why is speaking not tested in DIALANG? And why is writing tested in the way it is?
Automatic scoring of speaking and writing is very difficult and expensive to develop. That is why DIALANG does not yet have speaking tests and that is why writing is tested in an indirect way. Many writing tasks in DIALANG in fact look very much like reading, vocabulary or grammar tasks. There are some writing tasks where you can write something to complete the task, but what you are asked to write is limited to just a few words.

Why did I get the same test when I did DIALANG for the second time?
DIALANG is a new system and does not have a very large store of test items. Currently there are three different levels of tests for each language-skill pair (easy, intermediate and difficult). If you take a test in the same language and skill again, you may get the same test as before. Note also that some of the test tasks appear in more than one test, because the three tests for a skill overlap to some extent. For a particular language, there is only one placement test, which you will get every time you choose a test in the language in question. Likewise, there is only one set of self-assessment tasks for a skill (reading, listening or writing); this set has been translated into all DIALANG languages. You can skip the placement test or the self-assessment, but if you skip both you will automatically be given the intermediate version of the test you have chosen.

Why can’t I print out my results?
In this free public version of DIALANG it is not possible to print test results and feedback. You can write down the level you were given and any interesting points from the feedback. When you take another test, you will have an opportunity to see some of the feedback again, because more general advice and information is the same for, say, all reading tests. The general information about self-assessment appears in all tests.
It is possible to press Print-Screen (to print immediately) or Alt-Print-Screen (to save a screen image to the clipboard, then PASTE (Ctrl-V) into Word etc) if you wish to save your results.

Why did DIALANG mark my answer as wrong - it was a perfectly good answer?
In tasks where you have to write something to complete the task, DIALANG may not accept a perfectly good answer. DIALANG only accepts the most common correct answers that we have discovered during the pre-testing of the test tasks. Therefore, a good but unusual answer may be marked by the program as wrong simply because the answer has not been pre-programmed into the task.
Note also that a spelling error or a missing accent may cause an otherwise acceptable answer to be scored as incorrect and your test result may go down because of that. If you notice this several times when studying your feedback after the test, you may conclude that your real level is higher than the one reported by DIALANG.
If you are sure that your "wrong" answer is correct and not very unusual, please let us know by email.

Why are misspelled answers accepted in some tasks?
In some tasks where you have to write something to complete a task, several different answers may be accepted, so you may see quite a few answers listed when you look at the items after taking them. In reading and listening tasks, in particular, answers with insignificant spelling errors are often accepted. If you are unsure of the correct spelling of the responses that you see, please check them in a dictionary.

Why did I not get the test result I expected?
You may get a different test result from what you expected. There may be many reasons for this, some of which are described in more detail in the ĎAbout self-assessmentí part of feedback after the test. Some of the tests are still under development: they have been designed on the basis of expert judgment on task difficulty and empirical data is still being gathered to improve their accuracy.
Some of the reasons for a different test result may be more technical. For example, in many easy or even intermediate versions of tests, it is not possible to be placed at the highest level(s) because the tests are simply too easy to produce such a result. To make sure, therefore, that you get the test that is suitable for you, always take the placement test or the self-assessment statements before taking the test you have chosen.
It is always possible that you under-estimate or over-estimate your ability, and the feedback suggests possible reasons.

Why did I get zero points in the Placement Test?
Unless you are a very new beginner, this is rare, but it can happen. In the Placement Test you decide which of the "words" you see are real, and which are not. Do not take risks in this test: mark a word as real only if you are certain. Guessing is often a good strategy when using a language, but in this test claiming false words as real words will heavily lower your score, even as low as zero. However, remember that the Placement Test is only one (optional) step in the DIALANG system. Its main purpose is to help the system to choose the best test for you. If you have a very low score in the Placement test and your test result is much lower than expected, try again skipping the Placement test and see if you get a different result.