Comparing Learners’ General Proficiency Levels with Their Writing Productive Ability: How Correlated are They?

Bouchaib Benzehaf


Since complexity, accuracy and fluency (CAF) have been suggested as measures of language development (Larsen-Freeman, 1978), a heated debate has surrounded the issue of whether they can sufficiently capture the multi-dimensional facets of language proficiency and be reliable indices of language proficiency levels. Contributing to this debate, the present study investigates the correlation between L3 English proficiency and CAF measures in writing. It recruits 88 semester-one 2nd year Baccalaureate students who were divided into nine groups of general proficiency using the 9-point Stanine scale based on their scores in a general English proficiency test. The scores for the proficiency test were obtained based on the holistic scoring method. We, then, assigned the participants a writing task which we evaluated in terms of CAF. We used the number of dependent clauses per T-unit to measure complexity, the ratio of error-free T-units to the total number of T-units to measure accuracy and number of words per minute to measure fluency. The results showed a strong correlation between proficiency levels and CAF measures, thereby proving that CAF measures serve as a framework suitable for benchmarking language proficiency development. In light of the results, some implications are made for future research targeting language development.


Language proficiency; CAF measures; writing

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