New English proficiency test in UAE

June 12, 2014 5:21 pm

Students’ woes about English-language proficiency tests know no end in the UAE. Whether it be the TOEFL or IELTS, the complaints are endless when it comes to difficulties in finding test dates or a location that is close by. Unfortunately, admission to any university is dependent on the score achieved (and can often mean the difference between starting classes or taking a foundation year).

With this in mind, training provider ConnecME Education is now giving test-takers in the UAE another option – the City & Guilds English exam.  The Commission for Academic Accreditation under the Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has given approval for the test to be accepted as evidence for undergraduate or graduate admission in the country. “Colleges have been informed so this test will be equivalent to the TOEFL and IELTS,” explains Mohammad Shadid, CEO, ConnecME Education.

Like the other English proficiency tests, the City & Guilds English exams test all four skills: speaking, listening, reading and writing. It takes about 2.5 hours for the written exam while the speaking section lasts about 15 minutes. It is internationally recognized and approved by the UK Visas and Immigration for visa application purposes.

The difference is in how the exams are scheduled.”[Other tests] are limited in reaching the candidates. You need to book six months in advance and there may be a window once or twice a month. [However], the City & Guilds exams are on-demand and the candidate has the right to choose days suitable for them,” says Shadid.

“For students, it means there is more flexibility in the scheduling of their test. For educational institutions, it means increased efficiency in the student recruitment and admission process for their organization,” he adds.”

The first exam will be launched on June 18 and will be available on demand thereafter. The City & Guilds exams will be conducted in leading UAE universities such as the Canadian University and UAE University.

Testing in the workplace

While academic English skills are necessary when it comes to entering university, it is equally important to focus on ensuring that employees meet the minimum standards in the workplace, says Shadid. “Just like if you don’t achieve the required score in the TOEFL or IELTS and you don’t get into university, workers today need to prove that they have the level of English needed for a job.”

A range of tests are also available through the examination group to test business English proficiency, enabling employers to gauge whether a potential new hire meets the minimum standard. “Right now, everywhere the language of literature is English and there are no restrictions as to what industry someone works in.”

Shadid explains that the difference lies in the level of English needed, something that is dictated by the sector a person works in. “In the customer service industry, hospitality, tourism or retail, listening and speaking are [what the employer might choose to focus on] rather than asking staff to be writers or readers of.” Language courses can then be tailored specifically to the needs of the organization.

In fact, ConnecME has also partnered with UK-based language learning software provider EuroTalk to offer e-learning modules for classes targeting larger groups of people looking to acquire basic skills in cost-effective and no pressure environment. Shadid explains that this could be useful when targeting taxi drivers, for example, as they need to have the basic speaking and listening skills to understand where customers want to go and to be able to make any inquiries.