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Monday, 24 November 2008

Taking On TOEFL : IELTS The Uphill Challenge

For years, students from around the world have needed two things to be admitted and enroll at American colleges: a visa and an acceptable TOEFL score.

Now TOEFL is also getting competition, and the competition has set off debates at American colleges over the best way to measure students’ English competency, the obligations of American colleges to students from the poorest parts of the world, and the changing nature of international recruiting.

TOEFL and IELTS are now the two major non-native applicants’ examinations for testing English Language capabilities. IELTS is administered by International English Language Testing Service, whereas TOEFL distributed as the Test of English as a Foreign Language. Both the tests are taken for similar purposes, but stand poles apart.

IELTS has long been the dominant test for students from non-English speaking countries seeking to enroll in English-speaking nations of the British Commonwealth. But in the last three years, IELTS has quietly become a force in the United States as well, where the number of colleges accepting IELTS on equal footing with TOEFL has doubled, to more than 800.

“These two are really going head to head, and that’s going to benefit the consumer,” said Julia Funaki, associate director of international education services at the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers.

The applicants of both these tests TOEFL and IELTS are in constant debate with respect to identifying, which test is best amongst the two and which test is easier. The major similarities between TOEFL and IELTS are that both test the listening, writing and reading skills of the applicant. The IELTS has one additional element speaking, whereas TOEFL tests the written phrase from viewpoint of error recognition and the sentence completion.

While partisans of the two tests point to their differences, they actually have a lot in common. Both are “four skills” exams (reading, writing, listening, speaking). Both are offered all over the world. In terms of language, IELTS tests “international English,” and passages in the test are intentionally a mix of styles of what might be used at universities in Australia, Britain, Canada and the United States.

The most notable difference in the tests may be the way speaking is judged. IELTS uses a live, face-to-face interview with the test taker, while ETS has students taking the TOEFL speak into a microphone for analysis by a panel of test reviewers later.

“Live, face-to-face speaking is more authentic,” said Beryl Meiron, executive director of IELTS International, the United States branch of the organization. She noted that examiners must undergo extensive training and that years of using the system have enabled the organization to be certain that grading is appropriately rigorous.

“You really need to be able to manipulate the language well to do well on our test,” Meiron said.

IELTS is considered to be more difficult than TOEFL by the applicants owing to the speaking module. The speaking module of IELTS necessitates the applicants to take part in an official interview facing an examiner.

In spite of a status of US residency, TOEFL examination has to be given by every student having secondary schooling outside the country of United States, where the principal language is not English. Taking this fact into consideration, the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) has launched a Basic English program for the Spanish speaking applicants. ENOCIS’ new education strategy has received such a resounding acceptance from students of Latin America that the Enoch Olinga College found it necessary to establish representatives for admissions in more than 20 countries of Caribbean and Latin America. This ENOCIS step aims to increase student satisfaction by providing more personal attention.

Dissimilarities between TOEFL and IELTS:

The major difference between the TOEFL and IELTS are listed below:

• IELTS makes use of band scores based on the band scales, with every band equating a varied English aptitude. The IELTS band scores are in terms of whole or the half bands and are given equated to every one of the 4 skill modules. These are later averaged into one band score of IELTS. The band score of IELTS is based on 0 to 9 scale. 9 score is given to an expert applicant, whereas 0 is bestowed upon the applicant filling out the form and not attempting the examination.

• TOEFL on the other hand delegates numerical scores similar to an SAT test, for every skill area. Later, it calculates the grand total, the end result arrived at defines the English proficiency level of an applicant.

• TOEFL incorporates both the computer and pencil version of testing, out of which computer based testing (CBT) is available on few test sites. IELTS on the other hand is still in the process of creating computerized version of the test. As of now, IELTS doesn’t use computer testing and that makes the non speaking testing to aspect of the exam weaker than TOEFL, since it is very hard to accurately test language skills without technological support.

Carol Lynch, the former graduate dean at the University of Colorado at Boulder and now a senior scholar at the Council of Graduate Schools, said that she followed the development of the TOEFL speaking test as an advisory board member for that test. She said the TOEFL speaking test is more comprehensive and consistent, which is vital for a speaking test to be reliable. The speaking test is a new addition to TOEFL, and Lynch called it a “wonderful addition,” designed very specifically to meet the demands of college admissions officers.

ENOCIS Aids in Comprehensive TOEFL Preparation:

The preparatory program of ENOCIS for the TOEFL applicants includes chat rooms, in order to practice the basic skills of English language, a pre-examination program of TOEFL and preparatory programs of English language are being designed in Chinese and Vietnamese. ENOCIS strives to equip students with lifelong leadership and learning skills through basic language preparation. The academic programs of ENOCIS can be accessed throughout the world at convenience. ENOCIS has created a set of English preparatory lessons, in order to assist the students in preparing the TOEFL examination.

Exchangeability of TOEFL and IELTS:

Previously foreign students to be admitted into Western Universities had to compulsorily pass the TOEFL test, in order to get numerical ratings of English language proficiency. Applicants or non-native learners seeking admission for the UK, Canada and Australian universities were required to successfully pass the IELTS test. Now sizable numbers of American universities are also accepting the band scores of IELTS, for judging the applicants of English language abilities. TOEFL and IELTS have now become interchangeable over the last few years. The main reason behind this can be IELTS gaining a more respected and steady status of examination, owing to its structure considered to be more difficult than TOEFL.

Robert Watkins, assistant director of admissions for graduate and international admissions at the University of Texas at Austin, said that there has been a “perception issue” on TOEFL’s cost because it did not have differential pricing. Watkins is a member of TOEFL’s advisory board and believes his university probably receives more TOEFL score reports than any other institution. He thinks TOEFL is a “slightly better” test, but Texas started accepting IELTS scores two years ago — after the university conducted extensive tests on IELTS. “We think it’s a good test,” he said.

Cost comparisons are not as easy to make as one would think. Both testing entities claim that their test is less expensive, said Mari Pearlman, senior vice president of the higher education division at ETS .. Before TOEFL went to differential testing, it was still less expensive on average than IELTS. The issue is important because a price difference of $20 — which might seem like small change in the context of college costs in the United States — is a huge sum to a student in a developing nation trying to figure out if she will be able to gain admission to an American college.

IELTS posts its prices in local currency while TOEFL prices are posted in U.S. dollars. Converting IELTS fees to TOEFL prices in developing nations finds many where prices are within $10, but where IELTS had an edge until TOELF introduced differential pricing. In many developing nations.

Watkins and others said that a big part of the context for the growing IELTS interest is the changing nature of competition for international students. Post-9/11, many American universities struggled to maintain their international enrollment levels as visa regulations became more strict at the same time that many other countries’ universities — some of them in IELTS strongholds — started to step up recruitment of the best foreign talent.

As the the Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) is designed to professionally and efficiently address the needs of the underserved peoples of the world, the college looks favorably upon the newly competitive flexible pricing structure which puts education within the financial capability of students whom otherwise might not have the opportunity to be educated to their fullest ability.



David W Morris is an international development specialist with The Enoch Olinga College (ENOCIS) and author of several publications on socio economic development. David is a regular contributor to online article sites on the topics of on line education, underserved peoples, scholarship and educational excellence, continuing education programs and on line TOEFL and language development. David W Morris is also a successful online adviser of ranking blog site http://www.enocis.blogspot.com
Published At: www.Isnare.com




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