[Letters] English tests need more English

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[Letters] English tests need more English

Regarding the column “Leave language education to teachers” (June 26, 2009), the grab line used is “The country already has half a dozen perfectly good English tests. Why do we need another?

As a longtime English teacher in Korea, I have to strongly disagree that Korea has “perfectly good” English tests. My elementary school students have been entertained numerous times by the gross errors that they have found within some of the tests listed below:

“[The] Test of English Proficiency (TEPS) developed by Seoul National University, the Practical English Level Test (PELT), the General Test of English Language Proficiency, the Foreign Language Examination, the Secondary Level English Proficiency test or the Test of Skills in the English Language.”

The aforementioned tests are frustrating and amusing at the same time. Context, grammar, verb tense and basic spelling errors abound within these tests, not to mention that at times they look more like a Korean language test than an English language test because of the dearth of English on the pages.

To teach English, only English should be used. To test English, only English should be used. It is impossible to teach past a certain level using another tongue. My third, fourth, fifth and sixth graders not only understand English completely, but they now think in English. I sometimes forget that I am in Korea when teaching them.

I agree with the following: “We would be far better off trading the Korean Language Proficiency Test for an internationally adopted English testing system.” These tests already exist, can be compared with each other and are internationally recognized by the international community. Why reinvent the wheel?

John Charles, Busan

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