For most schools and employers, it is not enough for a student to have simply completed an ESL program. They need to be able to demonstrate that they have not only learned, but are able to converse in English. It is often difficult for students to document to a future employer or university that they have the ESL skills necessary to be able to thrive an an English-speaking environment.
The English Certification Tests (ECT) from Global Educational Technology helps students overcome this challenge, by providing them with the ability to demonstrate. The ECT series of ESL tests consist of a series of three computer-based language tests. The ECT is designed to assess levels of English that are lower that those needed for college entrance, yet high enough to make a tangible difference in a person’s ability to function in a work environment that requires English.
The ECT may be used:
- to provide prospective employees with a means of certifying their English abilities to employers.
- as a resource within a company to help determine promotions among existing employees
- as a measure of progress in an ESL school.
In the next few posts, we will briefly describe the ECT series of tests and how they help ESL students demonstrate their understanding of the English language to future employers or schools. Let’s first discuss how the ECT tests align with ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
The ECT Tests were created based on the ACTFL (American Council for the Teaching of Foreign Languages) Speaking Guidelines. These guidelines were created based on years of experience in oral testing and are widely used in academic settings to measure language learner’s functional competence. They provide descriptions of language ability at four different proficiency levels: Novice, Intermediate, Advanced and Superior. The descriptions involve what type of language tasks a learner can successfully handle as well as characteristics of the learner’s speech at the level including errors in pronunciation and grammar.
Rather than developing a single test which attempted to measure students’ proficiency across the whole spectrum of levels, the ECT is a series of three tests that examine the examinee’s ability at a specified level. This enables the ECT to focus all test items around a specific proficiency level and avoid having to test across many proficiency levels. Accomplishing the latter reliably wold required that the test be composed of too many items and thus it would take too long to administer and score each test. Moreover, it would be very frustrating for examinees at lower proficiency levels to have to respond to difficult items and boring for examinees at higher proficiency levels to respond to easy items. In addition multiple tests allows for reporting the scores as pass or fail.
Adapted from “ECT: English Certification Test”, by Dr. C. Ray Graham, Ph.D. and Kari E. Vidal, MA Language Testgin, both of Brigham Young University. Used with permission.