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Reasons to Take an English Level Test as a Non-Native English Teacher

Reasons to Take an English Level Test as a Non-Native English Teacher | ITTT | TEFL Blog

Hello everybody. It's Liza here and I'm super glad to welcome you to my weekly ITTT live session. Today's session is devoted to international exams and the reasons to take them as a non-native ESL teacher. Before we begin, please let me know if you see me and hear me clearly, just because I want to make sure my equipment works smoothly. We've got this comments section and you can basically communicate with me through that.

Table of Contents

Watch the live session here

Mahmoud says that he has taken a PTE test.

Joe says that he is currently teaching in Vietnam and they have a requirement of having C-1 to get a work permit. By the way, where are you from Joe?

Amitabha has said that I've already taken a TEFL certificate course.

How much is the CPE course?

Are you ready to teach English abroad or online?

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Watch the live session here

While we wait for some more people to join us let me know where you are tuning in from. I'm located in the Ural Region of Russia in a city called Yekaterinburg. It's pretty chilly today but really sunny and it means that spring is just around the corner. I hope so and what about you guys? Let me know where you are from and I'll show some of your answers on the screen so people will be able to see that we are actually a global community.

Thanks a lot for joining me today, it means everything to me because I'm still a little bit nervous every time I do these streams. Joe says he is currently teaching in Vietnam. That's great to know. I used to teach in China and then I lived in Thailand for a while and I love Southeast Asia. Those countries are just so sunny and the people are really kind there. Yanisha is from Panama. That's so cool, what time is it there? I believe it's like early morning or even yesterday maybe, like Monday evening.

By the way, I'd like to draw your attention to this QR code at the top right corner of the screen. If you scan it with your cell phone right now or at any time you will be able to get a 30% discount off any ITTT TEFL course. Coming back to the main point of today's discussion, let me just quickly change the slide and the size of the screen so you can see it clearly. Let me know if any of you have already taken any English level tests. If you did, why did you do it? And on this slide you can see some of the most popular English level tests among English teachers. Of course there are many more tests aimed at different levels but these four are widely recognized by English teachers.

I took the IELTS test in 2019 to find out where I was on my English learning path, plus at that time I was really eager to enroll into a university and I really needed the evidence of my English proficiency for the application. So what about you, have you taken any of these exams or are you wanting to take one of them? Let me know please.

Let's have this discussion because I feel like it's much more interactive and interesting for you to watch if everyone gets involved. Okay as I have already said, there are several options that English teachers prefer to take, so for example TOEFL and these other ones you can see here are aimed at higher levels of English proficiency. That's why us non-native speaking English teachers choose these exams. When it comes to international language tests we are dealing with the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages, you can clearly see it here on the right side of the screen.

As for the framework itself, it is an international standard for describing language ability. It describes language ability on a six-point scale from A-1 for beginners up to C-2 for those who have mastered the language. This makes it easy for anyone involved in language teaching and testing such as teachers or learners to see the level of different qualifications. It also means that employers and educational institutions can easily compare our qualifications to other exams in their country. When you want to work for somebody in another country they will probably need you to prove that your language ability can be comparable to their local one.

Mahmoud says that he has taken a PTE test.

That's cool. Am I right to understand that it is a preliminary English skills test at B-1 level or something?

The next thing I want to mention is that if you look at this scale you can see that IELTS for example is a multi-level test, so it means you can take it at whatever stage you like. However, its main drawback is that it expires after two years, so unfortunately mine will expire in December 2021, which is really a pity because I haven't gone to university yet. But I'm still hoping that I will do that one day so I will probably need to pass IELTS again. Right now I'm preparing for the C-2 level Cambridge proficiency English test and I am really hoping to get that done maybe in the beginning of 2022 or even at the end of this year.

As for some other exams, they are actually aimed to test a set of particular skills related to a specific level. For example, as Mahmoud has already mentioned, PTE is a preliminary english test which tests some B-1 skills, so when you prepare for this language test you know for sure what skills are required. Or if you help your students to prepare it has some particular amount of things to teach.

Let's look at some of the reasons to take these English tests if you are a non-native English speaker. For me, the first thing to consider when you prepare for English level exams is your extensive language skills training. So when you're committed to taking a language level test your main point is to show the skills you've already acquired and it means that while preparing you're constantly working on various abilities like speaking, reading, use of English writing etc. For non-native English teachers it's extremely important because we want to guarantee our students learn from the best and that they have chosen us not just at random.

Another reason to take IELTS for example or a Cambridge exam is to continue your education, because for enrolling on some teacher development courses, for instance the DELTA, they require you to show a higher level of English. Before this session I checked one training center's requirements where you can take DELTA module one or module three and they require you to have C-2 level with grades from B to A. If you have scored grade C at the proficiency test they probably won't let you go on the DELTA course.

Having a language level certificate opens a lot of doors to career development as well. Most of the international exams are recognized around the world and valued by employers. For example, when I worked in China back in 2016-17 my school asked me if I had an English level certificate and it was not a must actually but they wanted to make sure my English was good enough. Unfortunately at that time I didn't have my IELTS and I couldn't prove that I was worth it. However, they just ignored it but said that they recommended me to pass the IELTS in the future. I believe it's important for employers around the world and right now knowing my level and having this experience of going through the test means I can help students to prepare and in fact I stopped teaching general English and focused on international exams because it's more interesting for me as a teacher. I feel like my students are more motivated to learn when they prepare for an English test. I think that choosing this career path is also really fulfilling for teachers.

Last but not least, when you have proof of your English proficiency you can raise your rate per hour and believe me students are willing to learn from the best teachers but they won't be sure if you don't show it. Plus exam preparation is in great demand these days and there is little chance that you'll struggle to find students because so many people want to pass IELTS or Cambridge exams or TOEFL, so it's really important to have this skill.

Right now I would like to know about your experience guys, let's have this conversation. I can see your comments and I'll go through it right now, but while I'm dealing with the comments please share your stories. Have you taken an English level test or are you wanting to do that? And if you have taken IELTS for example or CPE, why did you do it and how have you benefited from it? I would really like to know your experiences.

Okay, so there are now some people here from India, glad to know that we're from different parts of the world, here we're a really global community. Mahmoud asks, according to the framework which is considered as an employee to hire non-native B-2 or C-1, please could you give me some more details.

I'm not completely sure if I understand your question, but if for example you are an English teacher and you want to work abroad as a non-native English teacher then your employer will probably consider you need to be at the higher level of English, which is actually like C-1 or C-1 plus.

I have already mentioned that the IELTS is just a two year certificate. For example, I took mine in December 2019 and it will expire this year in December, so it's a really short-term certificate and it is quite pricey. You can still take it, however, I recommend you take a Cambridge exam instead because their tests are more affordable and they do not expire.

Joe says that he is currently teaching in Vietnam and they have a requirement of having C-1 to get a work permit. By the way, where are you from Joe?

Okay, if you want to teach in another country most of the embassies and employers require you to provide these documents. That's right.

HI Moses. I can recognize you by your picture, nice to see you again today. We're talking about language level certificates. We are sharing our experiences of taking these level tests. Have you had this experience? Please share with us if you have.

If you ask me about the popular English level tests I would say that Cambridge tests are more affordable than IELTS or TOEFL, however, TOEFL is less pricey than IELTS. And if you want to have a certificate that won't expire you'd better look at the Cambridge exams. As for me right now, I'm preparing for the CPE course which is the highest English test by Cambridge and the reason I chose it is that it won't expire first, but secondly the exam is more interesting compared to IELTS because when you're preparing for it you practice different types of skills like communication skills, extensive writing but not only essays or reports but also reviews, proposals and stuff like that. So I think it's more important for you personally because it helps to build life skills and not just to pass the English test.

Amitabha has said that I've already taken a TEFL certificate course.

Okay, so when we talk about TEFL certificates and language level certificates they are not equal. A TEFL certificate is aimed at building teaching skills rather than language skills. But if you are thinking of building your language skills as a non-native English speaker, then I'd recommend you consider the CAE or the CPE course which are C-1 level exams. I have figured out that you are already quite proficient in English and it's a great idea to show that you can do more.

Oh look, Linda is watching us as well. Linda is my colleague and she also has her own live stream weekly on Fridays. Okay, so are IELTS general and academic both acceptable for non-native English speakers?

IELTS is just to check your English level and it is up to you which version you choose. If you want to show that you are more academically skilled then choose the academic version. If you want to show your general English ability then choose the general version. The main difference between the two IELTS versions is that academics is for study, so for example if you want to go to a university and you need to prove you are up to the right level for study. If you choose general you are probably going to move to another country to get a visa or a green card or something like that.

How much is the CPE course?

I'm actually not sure, but let me check. I know the amount of money in my local currency but I don't actually know how much it is in dollars, so let me just quickly check it. Okay, so it's about $160 which is really cheap compared to IELTS because that is about $260 or $270, especially when you know that it will not last forever, just for two years. So basically if you want to prove your English level it's better to choose less expensive options like the Cambridge exams, I believe.

So do you guys have any other questions related to English level tests or TEFL? Let me know, and by the way I wanted to mention that if you want to enroll into a TEFL course you don't need to to prove your English level. You can do this course with any level you have, so that's absolutely normal.

I would like to mention that this QR code will give you a nice discount on all of our courses. So if you want to take a TEFL course with ITTT you can scan it or copy this link from the chat box and you will be able to get the same 30% discount off any of our courses. There is no pressure though, if you want to take a TEFL course a little bit later it's absolutely okay, you don't need to worry that it will expire because it will be stored on your browser up until next month or something like that.

Okay, any other questions related to TEFL or language exams let me know and also if you guys have already taken any language level certificates, please let me know and I'll show your answers to everybody because this experience is really vital and I believe it's so cool to exchange.

I cannot recommend any specific website because English level tests are taken locally. For example, I found a test center in my city and I found it when I visited an international education fair. So it's better to check on Google if you have any test centers in your city or in your country. But if you want to find the Cambridge level tests then you can check the Cambridge website.

If you want to join any of our TEFL courses you need to click on this link here to get a 30% discount and then choose whatever course appeals to you, and just pay and start working on your TEFL certificate, that's all or you can scan this QR code on the screen here. It will also give you the same discount.

Okay, so do you guys have any further questions on TEFL or language level certificates, please let me know. And by the way if you could suggest to me any other ideas for our future streams, what you would like to know about, what would you like to learn from me? Let me know because if you suggest a particular topic it would be easier for me to prepare and it would be more interesting for you to learn more about the topic you like. So let me know please if you have any special suggestions.

Let me also mention that Linda and I are presenting on the Clubhouse app. We have profiles and if you are already into Clubhouse follow us and let's have a chat some time. We are thinking about creating a room related to English teaching and TEFL so let's keep in touch. And the last thing to mention is that ITTT is represented on various social networks, so if you want to stay connected and get updates please follow us on your favorite social media.

Okay, so Mahmoud has said that he has been into English language and literature for many years and has already finished the Diploma in TESOL from ITTT. How can I best apply for teaching jobs abroad?

Basically you need to choose a country that you would like to go to and then the second thing is to look for local employers who are currently hiring English teachers. For example, when I taught in China we had a very popular service for English teachers to look for jobs, it was called eChinaCities, something like that, and they posted different job offers from various employers and you can just easily apply from their website. You can also check out our ITTT job section because we also post different job offers there and I believe on Facebook there is a regular spot for job offers as well, so make sure you visit our website and check out the job section there and then what you have to do is to send your CV.

Hello Joelle, I'm not sure how to pronounce your name, but to prepare for online English teaching I would recommend you check out our newest course for teaching online and you could also take a TEFL course as well, like a general one of 120 hours or more and then you can also take a language level test. We have talked about that a lot today, so if you are not sure about your English level and you would like to improve your English skills it's a great idea to take an English level test. But if you want to focus on your teaching skills then take a TEFL. Let me send you a link to our teaching online course, it's a really cool course. I have been taking it as well. If you want to start teaching online, this course would be great for you. Thank you for your question. If you have any further concerns just let me know, I hope to be as useful as possible.

Thank you Moses, I really appreciate your feedback and it's great that you visit every week, some familiar faces are always great. Mohammed asks how can I improve my English speaking skills?

Well the general suggestion would be to speak it as much as possible. There is a nice application for your smartphone, it is called ELSA, you need to check it out. It helps to improve English pronunciation, but generally if you want to speak fluently it's a great idea to communicate more. So maybe it's a great idea to join a speaking group or speaking club, something like that. And by the way, I am currently working on a project related to speaking clubs, so stay tuned and I hope it will be useful for you as well.

With the job section on our website there are many job offers, I believe they are listed in different country sections. It's right here, copy this link and check it out. Amitabha, make sure you click on the last link and you will be able to see different job offers in different countries, so for example if you want to teach in let's say Africa you can click on it and see the job offers there. There are also online jobs and by the way as for online jobs I have already done a stream related to different platforms for online English teaching. For example, italki is the most popular one and many teachers want to work for them but they are not accepting new teachers right now. In that stream I talked about some other options which are less popular but still provide a high quality of service.

So guys it's actually the end of the live session because we have already covered all of the things related to English level tests and some of you have also asked me about different TEFL courses and other things. I'm really grateful to you for coming here today, thanks a lot. I hope to see you next time and if you have any suggestions on topics please let me know in the comments. If you have any particular suggestions on topics I'll try my best to be as useful as possible and to make a new live stream related to your ideas. I hope to see you next time.

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Related Articles:

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Reasons to Take an English Level Test as a Non-Native English Teacher
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