Category: ELT

TOEFL’s rapid retreat from Vietnam: How computerisation allowed IELTS to dominate

“Let this be a warning to educational technologists…no matter how dominant a stake you hold, you serve the market and it could eat you for lunch”

The computerization of the TOEFL exam allowed the IELTS to dominate Vietnam, says Deren Temel, Manager of International Development at SEAMEO RETRAC in Ho Chi Minh City.  In this week’s PIE blog, Temel discusses “the TOEFL exam’s self-inflicted collapse” in Vietnam, and asks readers to lend their insight in the comments. 

Before we get into the strategic disaster that dethroned the TOEFL exam’s dominant position in Vietnam’s English credentials market, lets set a few things straight. Credentials are certificates, exam scores, or degrees that describe someone’s prior learning and/or skill level. The international recognition of credentials allows students to continue their education across borders.
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How will English language exams change in the next five years?

“As specific IELTS and Trinity exams are linked to visa applications it is unlikely a fully online provision will be deemed secure enough in the next five years. However, this doesn’t mean that for other purposes, English Language provision and exams will change significantly.”

With online English language courses gaining in popularity, Pat Moores, director and co-founder of UK Education Guide, looks at whether English tests will increasingly be offered online. Specific exams are linked to visa applications, but does that mean provisions cannot change significantly for other purposes?

The appetite for learning English shows no signs of slowing up. According to latest figures from the British Council there are over 1 billion people currently learning English worldwide.

There is also deepening interest in online delivery of English language courses. For example in May 2015, FutureLearn launched its free course ‘Understanding IELTS: Techniques for English Language tests’.

Over 2 million learners have now signed up for the IELTS course across multiple runs.

But what is the broader picture?

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After the Language in London closure, what now?

“This type of sudden closure is awful for the whole industry, and at the end of the day it is the students and agents that we need to consider”

The sudden closure of Language in London, one of the three English language schools until recently that made up Language in Group, shocked the UK’s ELT sector last month. Here Margie Barker, director of Language in Totnes and Language in Group, reflects on the closure and the state of the industry.

Recently, yet another London school failed. While all such events are equally sad and distressing, this one hit home even more as it was a school that had belonged to a long term associate of mine. Language in London closed it doors without warning to any of us and staff, students and agents alike were all at once distressed and displaced.

Up until quite recently, my own school in Totnes, along with the Dublin school of Kevin Kheffache and Language In London, had been cooperating and pooling our sales and marketing efforts. This was primarily driven by the hope that that by combining our efforts our three smaller schools may be able to compete better with the big players in what is a very competitive and difficult market. We had recently decided to discontinue with this and return to working completely independently because the costs outweighed the benefits and our experimental cooperative simply didn’t work!
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