Using Arabic (L1) in testing reading comprehension in English (L2) as a foreign language
Al-Qudairy, Abdullah H. A.
The purpose of this study was to investigate the effect of using Arabic (L1) as a language of questions and answers in testing reading comprehension in English (L2), and to explore student and teacher opinions about this. Both quantitative and qualitative methods were employed. To collect the quantitative data, one hundred and forty-four students were given a reading comprehension test. Both multiple-choice and short-answer questions were used. The subjects were second-year English department undergraduate Saudi students and final-year secondary school Saudi students. Other factors including gender and five reading sub-skills were considered. Twelve students and four English-language teachers participated in semi-structured interviews, the source of the qualitative data. The findings of this study indicate that, for the population, test types and test levels investigated, there is no clear case for having reading comprehension questions and answers in L1. The use of Arabic in the English reading comprehension tests did not improve the performance of students. Interview responses were mixed, but with no consensus in favour of Arabic. Limitations of this study are discussed, and recommendations for further research in testing reading comprehension in English as a foreign language are presented.