Assumptions on Plausible Lexical Distractors in the Redesigned TOEIC Question-Response Listening Test

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Unaree Taladngoen
Reuben H. Esteban


Distractors in tests are included to divert attention away from correct answers choices. Knowing what types of distractors commonly appear in tests will benefit test takers as they can prepare themselves beforehand. Therefore, this qualitative study was aimed at making assumptions on plausible lexical distractors which are expected to appear in the TOEIC Question-Response listening test. The data under analysis were 300 items from the TOEIC Question-Response listening practice tests published by two internationally well-known publishers. With the aid of thematic analysis, the findings revealed that the three most commonly plausible lexical distractors were repeated words, similar-sounding words, and word associations, followed by homonyms, overlapping words, derivational words, and homophones, respectively. The two least frequently used lexical distractors were synonyms and antonyms. Based on the findings in the present study, the authors suggest integrating both explicit and implicit listening instructions to enhance EFL students’ linguistic and non-linguistic knowledge to avoid being confounded by these lexical distractors in the listening test. Explicit listening instruction can include simple and comprehensible bottom-up activities, such as dictation, macro listening, and narrow listening. In addition, extensive listening through implicit listening instruction can enhance students’ listening fluency and familiarity with fluent English speakers’ natural speech.

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Taladngoen, U., & Esteban, R. H. (2022). Assumptions on Plausible Lexical Distractors in the Redesigned TOEIC Question-Response Listening Test. LEARN Journal: Language Education and Acquisition Research Network, 15(2), 802–829. Retrieved from
Research Articles
Author Biographies

Unaree Taladngoen, Department of Languages and Communication, Faculty of Business Administration and Liberal Arts, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Phitsanulok, Thailand

A lecturer in English as a foreign language in the Department of Languages and Communication, the Faculty of Business Administration and Liberal Arts, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Phitsanulok. She earned a master’s degree in Educational Linguistics from Srinakharinwirot University. Her research interests are English language teaching, extensive reading and listening, and English pronunciation.

Reuben H. Esteban, Language Center, Faculty of Business Administration and Liberal Arts, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Phitsanulok, Thailand

A TESOL specialist at the Language Center, the Faculty of Business Administration and Liberal Arts, Rajamangala University of Technology Lanna, Phitsanulok. He holds a master’s degree in Educational Management from Central Luzon State University (CLSU) in 2019. His research interests are public speaking and communication, critical thinking, and creative thinking.


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