World’s First Internet-Based English-Proficiency Test
Sep 28, 2005, 07:48
More than two thousand students arrived at Thomson Prometric testing centers and other educational institutions across the United States Saturday to take the first Internet-based version of the Test of English as a Foreign LanguageTM (TOEFL® iBT). Developed by ETS, TOEFL® iBT reflects the academic English used in higher education and is the first large-scale English-proficiency assessment to be delivered over the Internet.
TOEFL® iBT is the newest version of ETS’s English proficiency test designed to assess English-language skills in academic settings. The test is recognized by more than 5,200 colleges and universities worldwide, and is widely known as the leading academic English assessment.
The new test stresses integrated communications skills and communicative competence. ETS created such enhancements as a new speaking section at the request of educators and admissions officials who worked closely with ETS and Thomson Prometric to develop the new test. The changes are expected to have a great impact on how English is taught.
Since it was introduced in 1964, the TOEFL® test has dramatically increased in stature among students and institutions worldwide. More than 17.5 million people have taken the TOEFL® test, including nearly 750,000 last year alone.
Unlike other English-proficiency tests, TOEFL® iBT does not treat the English-communication process as consisting of separate tasks. The test measures all four language skills and, most importantly, it uses an integrated-skills approach in which test takers need to:
* read, listen, and then speak in response to a question
* listen and then speak in response to a question
* read, listen, and then write in response to a question
Today students can take the exam at Thomson Prometric test centers and at other Internet-based university and educational settings. The premiere of TOEFL® iBT in the U.S. will be followed by administrations in Canada, France, Germany and Italy on Oct. 22.
“This test is a breakthrough in English-language assessment,” says Kurt Landgraf, ETS President and CEO. “It is the only test that uses Internet-based technology on such a global scale to measure English proficiency. It also helps ETS expand its testing to thousands of locations worldwide, greatly improving access for the test takers we serve.”
“Equally important is that for the first time, the TOEFL® test integrates all four components of language skills – listening, reading, writing and speaking, to help learners build the skills and confidence needed to communicate effectively in academic environments. University admissions officials and educators asked for this, and with their help, ETS’s research and development experts have delivered it.”
“This new test is the successful culmination of a multi-year effort, combining a new test delivered using new technology and enhanced services through a significantly expanded set of testing centers worldwide,” says Michael Brannick, President of Thomson Prometric, a part of The Thomson Corporation (NYSE: TOC; TSX: TOC). “We are committed to our collaboration with ETS to ensure effective and efficient testing operations for this increasingly important test. Thanks to our collective efforts, more testing candidates than ever before will have access to the TOEFL® test worldwide.”
“With the new TOEFL® iBT test takers are presented with questions that truly reflect how language is used in an academic setting,” notes Mari Pearlman, Senior Vice President of Higher Education at ETS. “Admission officials, in turn, gain a better idea of how well prospective students will interact at their universities.”
“Unlike other English-language tests, we do not use face-to-face interviews for the speaking section of the test,” Pearlman adds. “The interview method may add bias to a test depending on the rapport between the test taker and interviewer. TOEFL® test takers record their spoken English. Instead of relying upon one person’s impression, ETS has between three and six highly trained raters review test taker responses. It’s fairer for students and more accurate for universities.”
Pearlman says ETS has also expanded the writing section. In addition to the essay section in the current test, the new test includes another writing task. Test takers will read a short passage, listen to a lecture, and then type their response on the computer screen. Test takers are allowed up to four hours to complete the test, and all sections can be completed on the same day, adding a new level of convenience for test takers.
Because the TOEFL® iBT measures all four English skills, and includes independent and integrated tasks, ETS officials believe it will help English instructors link teaching and learning with testing to better help their students perform in academic settings.
Other features of the new test include helpful performance feedback on score reports and score results provided online within 15 business days of testing. A free practice test is also available at TOEFL® Practice Online at www.ets.org/toeflpractice. View an online tour for more information about TOEFL® iBT.
The new test will be administered on fixed dates in the ETS global network of Internet-based test centers and through Thomson Prometric, the world’s largest computer-based testing network.
Most test centers will offer 30 to 40 TOEFL® iBT administrations a year. The number may vary, based on the number of test takers and test-center capacity. The testing fee in 2005 will be US$140.
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