Friday, February 06, 2004

TOEFL for graduation?

Here's a classic.
The Tokyo government decided it would make all students get a certain score on the TOEFL test and an internship for graduation from a university that they're going to open in 2005.

The "who" in this kind of policy is easy enough to understand--everybody who wants to graduate from a certain program must successfully take the exam. Easy enough.

If we ask what the institution means by "the TOEFL test," it gets more difficult. The TOEFL people make some different tests, the TOEFL, TOEFL ITP(Institutional Testing Program), TAST(TOEFL Academic Speaking Test), SPEAK (Speaking Proficiency English Assessment Kit), TWE (Test of Written English), and TSE ( Test of Spoken English). You can see for yourself here. This means a great deal as the TOEFL site claims :

"The TOEFL test is a measure of general English proficiency. It is not a test of academic aptitude or of subject matter competence; nor is it a direct test of English speaking ability TOEFL test scores can help determine whether an applicant has attained sufficient proficiency in English to study at a college or university."

It doesn't say anything about the instrument being used for graduation purposes. Entrance, yes. Graduation, no. The company also says that it is not a direct test of English speaking ability. The TOEFL company does make a speaking test, but the students would need to take that to be able to say anything about their speaking ability.

"This type of system is necessary to produce the kind of people in demand," an education official of the metropolitan government said. First, what kind of people are in demand? What skills does this program promise to deliver? I see that graduates will need to jump through some hoops, but unfortunately the connections between the expected outcomes and the requirements for graduation are not clear at all.

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