Isn't Repeat Sentence just Testing our Memory?
Since the introduction of the PTE exam as a test to check the English Language Proficiency of a person from
non-native English speaking background, there have been various misconceptions about the questions asked in the
exam. One such question is "Repeat the Sentence." When some people encounter Repeat Sentence, they think it's a
memory test. In fact, it's not a test item type that was made up to test memory. It's well established in the world
of second Language Acquisition. It's a highly researched item type, and there is a body of research that shows that
it's a test of language proficiency and not a test of memory.
In fact, memory does play a tiny part in it. If I were to ask you to Repeat a Sentence of three or
four words, you might be able to repeat that just by parroting it using your short term memory and mimicking sounds.
Even though you don't understand that you can probably repeat it, but the research shows that after four or five
words long, you are no longer using your memory, rather what the test taker had to do is understand what they have
heard and when they repeat it, they have to reconstruct it. Now, they can't do that unless they have familiarity
with the lexical items, they have encountered and the grammar in the sentence.
So, let's look at an example if I say the sentence,
- Student concession cards need to be obtained by completing an application form.
That's probably 12 words long.
And for a native speaker, it's effortless to repeat. They would hear that, and they would repeat that without too
much trouble. But that's because it's not that they are using their memory but because they have got thousands of
hours of language learning experience and they have encountered all those words many times before. They have
encountered the language structures before. In fact, what they are using is chunking familiar words together.
These formulaic expressions when a native speaker speaks English, they use over time, they stream them
together without thinking them too much.
Student concession cards
need to be
obtained by completing
an application form.
A language learner who is less familiar with their language structures is going to find it much more challenging when
they are going to do that, and one way to demonstrate this is to try it yourself in a different language.
Well, while you are at it, you can consider practicing the other questions of PTE as well to enhance your performance
overall. PTE Tutorials is a specially developed PTE
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