A Korean Toefl

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A Korean Toefl

Koreans are having difficulty applying to take the Toefl, an English-language standardized test offered by the Educational Testing Service in the United States. There are too many applicants, so submitting online applications is nearly impossible.
This situation has gotten worse since the exam’s format was changed to an Internet-based test in September last year. “Toefl crisis” even became a widely-used term. How long do we have to bear this situation?
To apply to schools at home and abroad and to seek a job, Toefl scores are a must, but it is nearly impossible to take the test. Koreans also spend more than 10 billion won ($10.7 million) annually on test application fees.
About 100,000 Koreans take the test every year (making Korea one of the leading sources of Toefl takers), but the opportunities to do so have decreased since the test format changed. The Educational Testing Service has been unable to solve this fundamental problem.
The Education Ministry’s control over university admissions has also played a role. Because universities are not allowed to conduct their own English-language tests, they demand Toefl scores when evaluating applicants.
It is time for Korea to establish a reliable, standardized English proficiency test to replace the Toefl. The Education Ministry and universities could jointly establish and manage a test and take care of the problem. Some universities have come up with their own tests, but they are not widely used.
Fortunately, more and more universities and companies are using these Korea-developed tests since the “Toefl crisis.” Last month, the National Assembly passed a special bill on English language promotion, designed to establish a standardized English proficiency test authorized by the state.
Let’s make a reliable and properly developed test, so that companies and universities will be able to use it with confidence. That will largely reduce Korea’s dependence on Toefl scores and increase our ability to manage a standardized English language test at the same time.

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