How Do Schools Test Students’ English Proficiency
How do US schools make sure that international students have a high enough English proficiency to attend classes? Especially if the students are coming from a language background with massive differences like Chinese. Assessing students’ true level of proficiency can be a huge task. Luckily, there are corner-stone exams like the Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL) to help. We, at Ojisu Homestay, initially use this score to get an idea of where a student is in their abilities, but we also interview them to evaluate their English capabilities that cannot be captured by an exam.
Does TOEFL reflect the real level of testers?
The TOEFL tests basic listening ability, structure and written expression, reading comprehension, and writing on every day subjects. The test is ranked on a scale of 0 to 120, with the acceptable scores ranging from 61 at Bowling State Green to 110 at Oxford.
While widely used and generally helpful, the TOEFL is, however, criticized for being too formulaic.
In a study, 10% of all native English speakers could not get what would be an “A” grade on the TOEFL. Many say that fact that native speakers who take the test often get mediocre marks is evocative of the exam’s failures to capture what it really means to speak English. American English is heavily dependent on colloquialisms and shortcuts instead of formalized grammar, which is not included on the exam.
In addition, many people complain that if you practice the exam enough times, you will do well because you can understand what type of answers the exam is looking for. People who are good at tests, but who do not necessarily speak English well, also have a more easy time with this exam. According to one English teacher, the test focuses on “how well they can think quickly and under pressure” and not necessarily understanding.
For all these reasons, many schools and education companies like us check a student’s English proficiency in an informal interview as well. Since fluency and colloquial vocabulary can be serious barriers to a student’s adjustment, making sure a student is English ready to begin their experience abroad is a major priority here at Ojisu Homestay.