The Washback Effects of Teaching Academic IELTS on Emirati Students' Language Proficiency At A Technical High School in Abu Dhabi

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The British University in Dubai (BUiD)
The aim of this small-scale study is to look at the washback effect, positive or negative, of teaching IELTS in a tertiary vocational school in the UAE. The research was carried out on two Grade 12 classes – one that was taking an Academic English Course and one that was a purely IELTS preparation class. An effective understanding of the effects of washback is relevant and important in today’s times when high-stakes exams have become inevitable to seek admission into universities or to seek jobs. The present study follows 40 Grade 12 students’ performance in English Exams over the last two years to explore the possibility of washback effects on teachers and students due to a strict IELTS preparation course being taught. To conduct this study, English exam marks of the two grade 12 classes were collected for the past two years at the Applied Technology High School in Abu Dhabi. These test scores were then compared using the ttest to validate or reject the null hypothesis that there is no washback effect of teaching to a test. The findings of the study indicate that negative washback can be seen in the teaching and learning of students in the IELTS preparation class while students in the AE class showed better English language proficiency.
washback effect, academic IELTS, Emirati students', English language proficiency, technical high school, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates (UAE), vocational school