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Volume 17 Number 3, Autumn 2020, Pages 758-1157 PDF Download

Writing Assessment and the Challenges of the Norms: Insights from Standard English, World Englishes and English as an International Language

    Nasim Ghanbari

This reflective essay examines writing assessment as perceived within the three paradigms of Standard English (SE), World Englishes (WEs) and English as an International Language (EIL). In each of the perspectives, the way construct of writing is theorized and then informs the assessment practice are critically investigated. Upon reviewing the three stances on writing assessment, the author argues that in the today's post-colonial and post-modern globalized world with drastically new communicative needs, the Standard English perspective which promotes the educated native speaker as the only accepted norm does not fit the realities of the writing assessment. Also, WEs perspective assessment proposal which advocate the inclusion of a variety of local norms in the theory and practice of writing assessment seems impossible in practice. Finally, drawing on EIL view it is discussed that to meet the new demands of written communication in the present globalized world with no border between the native and non-native speakers, rating scales should be modified to address new communicative needs by including the pragmatic skills of negotiation strategies, sociolinguistic awareness, accommodation strategies, etc. However, it is argued that at present due to the absence of practical tests that realize these claims, the existing International proficiency tests continue to work.

Keywords: Writing assessment, rating scale, standard English, world Englishes, English as an international language