As an ESL teacher, you might need to prepare your students for a variety of external English proficiency exams, each serving different purposes. Generally, these exams fall into three main categories:
- General Language Proficiency Exams: These tests assess a student's overall language ability. Common examples include the TOEFL (Test of English as a Foreign Language) and the IELTS (International English Language Testing System), which are widely recognized globally.
- Academic English Exams: These are specifically designed for students planning to study in English-speaking countries like the USA or the UK. The TOEFL and IELTS also serve this purpose, particularly assessing whether a student's language level is sufficient for academic settings.
- Business English Exams: Tailored for professional contexts, these exams evaluate language skills relevant to the workplace.
Each of these exam types targets specific skills and language use scenarios, making it crucial for ESL teachers to understand their distinct formats and requirements to effectively prepare students.
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This is a five level exam suite ranging from very basic to highly advanced knowledge.
The exams are:
- Key English Test (KET)
- Preliminary English Test (PET)
- First Certificate English (FCE)
- Cambridge Advanced English (CAE)
- Cambridge Proficiency English (CPE)
You can get some idea of the level of each of these exams by looking at the comparison chart showing the Cambridge exams against the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages. (CEFR)
The International English Language Testing System (IELTS) can help you obtain work, study or migrate to a country where English is the native language. This includes countries such as Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and USA. Your ability to listen, read, write and speak in English will be assessed during the test. IELTS is graded on a scale of 1-9. Each immigration body, university, workplace or institution will have specific IELTS score requirements. The score you need to gain will depend on what you are looking to do in the country, for example to work or to study.
The TOEIC tests assess your English-language communication skills for the workplace.
There are two tests available, one for the receptive skills (listening and reading) and one for the productive skills (speaking and writing). If you take the two tests together, you will get a complete measurement of all four English-language communication skills.
The TOEIC Listening and Reading test assesses your English-language listening and reading skills for the workplace. Test questions simulate real-life situations that are relevant to the global workplace.
The TOEIC Listening and Reading test is a multiple-choice assessment. There are two timed sections of 100 questions each.
The test takes about 2.5 hours in total:
- 45 minutes for Section I: Listening
- 75 minutes for Section II: Reading
- About 30 minutes to answer biographical questions
The TOEIC Speaking and Writing tests assess your speaking and writing skills used in the workplace. You will respond to real-world questions and scenarios in spoken and written English. The tests use common everyday vocabulary, phrases and key expressions used in a workplace environment.
You can take the Speaking and Writing tests together or separately.
The TOEFL test measures all four academic skills - reading, listening, speaking and writing - the way they are used in the classroom.
The TOEFL iBT test is broken up into those four sections and takes about 3 hours to complete.
The TOEFL iBT test is offered three different ways:
- TOEFL iBT test: on a computer at an authorized test center
- TOEFL iBT Home Edition: on a computer at home, monitored by a live human proctor
- TOEFL iBT Paper Edition: Two test sessions: (i) Reading, Listening, and Writing sections: on paper at a test center. (ii) Speaking section: on a computer at home.
Linguaskill is an online test to help organizations check the English levels of individuals and groups of candidates, powered by Artificial Intelligence technology. It tests all four language skills - speaking, writing, reading and listening - in modules. It provides accurate results within 48 hours and is easy to administer; the test can be taken at any time or place, even at home.
Results are aligned to the Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR), the international standard for describing language ability.
Linguaskill General tests language used in daily life, making it ideal for university admission or exit, and recruitment for roles in a non-business-specific environment. For example, where the employee needs strong English skills to perform their role effectively, but will not need specialist business terms. Test topics include studying and working, making future plans, travel and technology.
Linguaskill Business tests English used in a business and corporate setting, and is most suitable for recruitment in organizations where employees are expected to be familiar with the language of business. It is suitable for large or small organizations, which may be operating on an international level. Test topics include the buying and selling of products or services, the office, business travel and human resources.