Should language be tested by discrete points or by integrative testing?Traditionally, language test have been constructed on the assumption that: language can be broken down intoits component and those component parts are duly tested.What is discrete point?Language is segmented into many small linguistic points and the four language skills of listening, speaking,reading and writing. Test questions are designed to test these skills and linguistic points. A discrete point testconsists of many questions on a large number of linguistic points, but each question tests only one linguisticpoint.Examples of Discrete point test are:1. Phoneme recognition.2. Yes/No, True/ False answers.3. Spelling.4. Word completion.5. Grammar items.6. Multiple choice tests.Such tests have a down side in that they take language out of context and usually bear no relationship to theconcept or use of whole language.Discrete point test met with some criticism, particularly in the view of more recent trends toward viewing theunits of language and its communicative nature and purpose, and viewing language as the arithmetic sum ofall its parts.That is why John Oller (1976) introduced
According to him
language competence is a unified set of interacting abilities which cannot be separated apart and testedadequately.
discrete items attempt to test knowledge of language one bit at a time, integrativetests attempt to assess a learner's capacity to use many bits all at the same time, and possibly while exercisingseveral presumed components of a grammatical system, and perhaps more than one of the traditional skills oraspects of skills.
Therefore, communicative competence is so global and requires such
use in thereal world that it cannot be captured in additive tests of grammar or reading or vocabulary and other discretepoints of language.This emphasizes the simultaneous testing of the testee's multiple linguistic competence from variousperspectives.Examples of integrative test are: