ISSUES IN TESTING BUSINESS ENGLISH: THE REVISION OF THE CAMBRIDGE BUSINESS ENGLISH CERTIFICATES. Barry O'Sullivan. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2006. Pp. xiv + 394. $34.00 paper.
Testing language for specific purposes (LSP) is critical for understanding how an individual's language performances might vary from situation to situation, with different test tasks, or both. Researchers and language test practitioners are faced with a complex task when designing field-specific tests and implementing viable test methods in which field-specific contextual constraints arise. This volume reviews the challenges and changes to accommodating these influences and provides methodologies for the revision of the Business English Certificates (BEC). Divided into five chapters, the volume opens with a brief historical introduction to the testing of language for business purposes. The first chapter seeks to provide an overview of some of the central issues in LSP facing language testers today by embedding practical considerations in a theoretical context and by reviewing tests of business language (e.g., Test of English for International Communication, Pitman Qualifications, and London Chamber of Commerce and Industry Examinations Board tests). Also discussed are tests of language for business and commerce in languages other than English. From a systematic point of view, the volume discusses the construct upon which each test focuses, the test method, skills coverage, measurement qualities, degree of specificity and situational authenticity, impact of nonlanguage factors, and score reporting. Furthermore, the development of business English testing at the Cambridge English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL; e.g., Certificate in English as a Foreign Language for Secretaries, Certificate in English for International Business and Trade, Oxford International Business English Certificate, and Business Language Testing System) is discussed at length.