Teachers’ and Students’ Perceptions of the Effect of Cultural Background in the IELTS Listening Test


This study examined the effect of culturally-specific items on the performance of Arab candidates on the IELTS Listening Test. Using an online survey and focus-group discussions with 16 IELTS teachers and 32 IELTS candidates at Al Ain University in Abu Dhabi/the United Arab Emirates, the current study showed that the independent variable, i.e., ‘culture’ has a negative impact on the candidates’ performance. The results revealed that the most culturally-loaded section of the IELTS Listening Test is Section 1, followed by Section 2, Section 3 and Section 4, respectively. The results also demonstrated that the culturally-specific items included in the Listening Test had a negative effect on the candidates’ answers who were not aware of certain cultural aspects referenced in the test. The study concluded with some recommendations that aim to improve the cultural awareness of Arab candidates.


Abdel Rahman Mitib Altakhaineh and Abdelghani Remache


applied linguistics, Arab IELTS candidates, culture, IELTS listening test, language assessment