Assessing English Proficiency for University Study by John Read (auth.)

By John Read (auth.)

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Implementation of the mandatory policy has been patchy. Communication of the new testing requirement emanated from a number of different sources but lacked central coordination (Ransom 34 Assessing English Proficiency for University Study 2009). Although in the wake of the policy the overall rate of DELA participation increased by around 50 per cent compared to the numbers presenting for assessment in the previous year (from 638 in 2008 to 943 in 2009), only 68 per cent of the targeted undergraduate students took the test, with uptake varying from faculty to faculty (from a low of 19 per cent to a high of 79 per cent).

A particular challenge is to be competent in grading the assessed work of the students, especially if some of the students are native speakers of English. Determining whether the English proficiency of academic staff is adequate is a delicate matter. At Maastricht, according to Wilkinson, the university has strengthened the English proficiency of its academic staff ‘by stimulating staff who do not feel competent in teaching through English to leave or be reassigned and by recruiting competent teaching staff from outside’ (2008, p.

Malaysia and the nations of Western Europe are cases that we have just discussed in some detail. The European case highlights the point that Englishmedium education does not necessarily mean monolingual education in English. Not only do most of the students and teaching staff have a strong first language of their own, but through the Integrating Content and Language (ICL) approach various forms of bilingual education are being implemented, with the potential to use the first language as a valuable learning resource.

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