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November 25, 2007

Workplace Issues- Lower standards?

Hello readers,

For those of you teaching EAP university courses, you may already know that some of your students are well below the required level of English. How does this happen? There are two main causes of this problem:

1. Some students cheat on their IELTS/TOEFL tests by having other students take the test for them, using a fake ID to get in.



2. Students who don't meet the minimum requirements are asked to spend a summer or a year studying at their university on a pre-sessional or foundation year course before starting their undergraduate or postgraduate degree course. Because international student fees are much higher than local students' fees, there is quite a bit of pressure for EAP teachers to allow these students to pass the pre-sessional/foundation year courses- whether they are ready for it or not.

While this has obvious negative implications, e.g. setting these students up for failure, less-respect for the school, a lower standard for the classroom, etc., it doesn't look like this trend is going to end any time soon. So, what can we as EAP teachers do for these students?

1. Help students develop more methods for coping with uncertainty.
2. Set students up with a buddy to help them get through their university courses.
3. Initiate more communication with core teachers to help them understand how to help the students in the classroom.
4. Provide students with more resources and lists that they can use during their time at university, e.g., hedging phrases and sentence types commonly used in reports and dissertations.
5. Encourage the school to provide continual support for such students throughout their entire course, not just in the beginning.

What else can be done for these students? Feel free to share your ideas below.

Hope that helps!

Carol Rueckert
Writer, ESL Lesson Plan
E-mail: crueckert@eslemployment.com
Blog: www.esl-lesson-plan.com

"I hear, and I forget. I see, and I remember. I do, and I understand." - Chinese Proverb

*Looking for more articles that focus on workplace issues specific to ESL? Click HERE!

About the author of this entry:
Carol, a native English-speaker hailing from the small town of St. Joseph in Minnesota, USA, worked in China for more than 7 years. During that time, she worked at universities, private language schools, grade schools, international schools, and did private tutoring as well. Besides teaching, she also worked as a Head teacher, an Education Manager, and a Material Development Manager. In addition to working on this newsletter, she also writes a monthly column for Time Out Beijing, authors ESL textbooks for publishing houses in China, and is an Editor for Garnet Publishing in Reading, England. Carol holds a BA in Communications from the College of St. Benedict/ St. John's University, and a CELTA, and has just finished her MA TESOL course at Oxford Brookes University. Look for her posts on the ESL-Jobs-Forum discussion boards!

Posted by crueckert at November 25, 2007 03:15 AM

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This is a terrible trend! I've seen evidence of this--the new lower standards--for myself.

What I didn't realize is how rampant the TOEFL cheating is. I always thought that such important tests might be administered overseas through schools who were "familiar" with the persons taking the test (often the same students who took TOEFL "prep" courses). In other words, ID recognition on sight. Shows what I know for presuming.

Do you happen to know if the persons/TOEFL reps. who generally administer the TOEFL exam are supposed to be "official" officiants of some nature, or just random workers? Just curious!

Very good subject to post about; I hope this one gets some discussion. Please bring it over to the ESL forum if the conversation dies here.



Posted by: Lee Hobbs at November 26, 2007 09:57 PM

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