Anguish when it comes to English? What should you do?

Learning a new language can be a daunting task for a few and a zealous experience for others. English falls broadly into a category where it is spoken by many, yet becomes a cause of anguish when one cannot. Lovely Majumdar finds out what veterans who conduct English proficiency tests and trainers of the test have to say
When it comes to English Proficiency Tests. What should you do?
When it comes to English Proficiency Tests. What should you do?(Source: EdexLive Desk)

When it comes to assessing one’s knowledge of English, people tend to worry, as sometimes, the way they speak might not be in tandem with what may be deemed as grammatically or syntactically correct. This becomes a dilemma for individuals pursuing better opportunities in a foreign country, especially when they must take entry-level English proficiency tests.

For starters

Dr Albert P’Rayan, an English Language Teaching (ELT) resource person, emphasises the importance of having strong receptive and productive skills.

To enhance receptive skills like listening and reading, he suggests engaging in a variety of conversations, presentations, talks, and different types of texts, such as news stories and novels. This practice, if continued, can also improve writing skills. He adds that for speaking, it is essential to develop subskills including grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation.

Another English proficiency expert, Richa Valecha, recommends that novices learning the language should listen attentively to English speakers. She also suggests conversing with native speakers, as this may prove highly beneficial.

Array of difficulty

English proficiency tests are designed to align with global standards. Various countries, organisations, and institutions also have standardised criteria tailored to specific roles and requirements that individuals may need to meet. But this may be a cause for confusion.

Valecha, who is also an immigration and visa expert says, "It is important to understand if one is applying for work, immigration, visa, or education. One must also inquire into the required score bandwidth that would help them delineate a clear set of goals."

Not only this, she further asserts the importance of time when it comes to these tests. According to Richa, time is of utmost importance at every stage when you are to apply for immigration, visa or education. “As these tests are flexible, one can choose an optimal time to appear for it, but one must clearly gauge their competency, and prepare accordingly.”

The Director of English Language Learning at Pearson India, Prabhul Ravindran, says to choose the right test, “you should align with your specific goals”. He cites the example of the Pearson Test of English (PTE), which offers PTE Academic, allowing one to study at a university and PTE Core for Canadian Visa requirements, requiring different proficiencies.

How do these tests fare in India?

India is a multilingual nation and home to over 1,600 languages and dialects. Even with the dominance of the English language, there can be a rise of a new dialect that combines both the English language and the dialect of the region, making it difficult for individuals to achieve perfection. Then do these tests fare well in India?

Richa Valecha is of the notion that these tests can prove to be challenging and cites reasons such as different backgrounds and exposure to different languages.

"Even though a person knows and can speak English, to form syntactically correct sentences may prove to be a difficult task due to the effect of other languages interspersed with English, thereby, becoming a source of confusion for people."

As per an expert, Amit Upadhyay, who is the Regional Director, South Asia, Oxford International Education Group, the tests, especially Oxford ELLT Digital tests, prioritise accessibility and inclusivity. "Our tests ensure no discrimination against students with regional accents and speech impairments."

He additionally says that examiners at Oxford are adept at accommodating a diverse range of students with their varying needs. The Director at Pearson adds, "Despite this linguistic variety, the country has a significant number of individuals aspiring to study or work abroad. In 2023 alone, over 1.8 million English proficiency tests were conducted in India."

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