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Summary Details

Query:   TOEFL and Konkani Speakers
Author:  Ohkado Masayuki
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Applied Linguistics
Anthropological Linguistics

Summary:   For Query 12.51

Some time ago I posted a query why Konkani speakers consistantly mark the highest score in TOEFL.

I am grateful to the following four people who kindly replied to my question.

OHKADO Masayuki
Chubu University
Aichi-ken Kasugai-shi
Matsumoto-cho 1200, JAPAN

tel: 0568-51-1111
fax: 0568-51-1141

- ------------------------------------------------------------------
Mr. Francisco Alves, who is a native speaker of Konkani:

Soon after Goa (where most of the Konkani speakers come from) was taken over by the Indian Government in 1961 from 451 years of Portuguese rule, English was adopted as the medium of communication in schools and administration. Besides many of the Goan expatriates from the former British East Africa returned to Goa with English as their only language of communication. So, now we have a whole generation of speakers whose first language is English only.

A brief introduction to the history of Goa may help in understanding the situation little better.

** By the way, Konkani is not a dialect of Marathi. For more information refer to ''A Description of Konkani'' by Matthew Almeida.

- ------------------------------------------------------------------
Prof. Anthea Fraser GUPTA wrote:

The explanation is clear. They are likely not to be foreign speakers of English. Most Konkani speakers doing TOEFL tests are likely to have had most or some of their education in English, and, being mostly from Southern India, have experienced life in a place where
English is widely used in many spheres of life. Some of them will in fact be native speakers of English, and the rest will be highly proficient second language speakers of English.

The linguistic relationship between languages is not the main predictor of skill in a language. The social setting of learning is more important.

Within Europe, for example, if you were to compare skills in English of native speakers of French with those of native speakers of Finnish, the Finns would be well ahead, because English is widely (and well) taught in Finland and is regarded (as in all the Scandinavian countries and in the Netherlands) as an essential part of education, which is not the case in France. Yet Finnish is unrelated to English.
- ---------------------------------------------------------------
Mr./Ms. Johannes wrote:

I could imagine that a Konkani speaker would only try to pass the TOEFL if he has done a lot for English, whereas a Dutch speaker is biased by the closeness of the two languages. By the way, Dutch is not the closest language to English, but Frisian (spoken in the northwest of the Netherlands and on some German islands) and Low Saxon (the language spoken in the northern part of Germany (my mother tongue BTW).

[Frisian not listed, Dutch is the language closest to
English in the relevant data. OHKADO Masayuki]
- ---------------------------------------------------------------
Prof. Eleanor Batchelder wrote:

Are the number of test-takers for each language listed? It is possible that a language which has only a very few, very good takers will produce a very high average score, when
compared with languages that have more takers and thus a larger, more normal distribution. In such a case, one should not include very small groups in such a comparison, since the individual test-taker has a disproportionate influence on the average, and thus the average is not necessarily representative of all potential test-takers fromthat language.

Are you looking at a printed report, or is the information on the Web?

[The data are available at: OHKADO Masayuki]

LL Issue: 12.1136
Date Posted: 25-Apr-2001
Original Query: Read original query


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