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A transformational tool
Editor / City & Guilds
- October 19 2011
A transformational tool
Artur Rego of City & Guilds on how Slovakia uses international exams to develop state school English
The article appeared in the October 2011 issue of El GAZETTE please follow this link to read the artcile in EL GAZETTE.
Slovakia has made great steps towards ensuring that English language exam accreditation can be transferred between the public school system and private language institutions. In 2009 the government finalised a law allowing internationally recognised certificates in English, and some other languages, to be acknowledged as eligible and valid replacements of national school-leaving exams, commonly referred to as Maturita exams. As far as English is concerned, the list of recognised exams includes City & Guilds International Esol, Cambridge Esol, Ielts and Toefl.
Head teachers of individual schools are empowered to make their own decisions as to whether they recognise international language certificates as Maturita replacements at the institutions under their control. However, market trends indicate that the number of heads viewing this as a tool for student motivation is increasing.
This trend will most likely result in the overall improvement of students' English competency in the secondary school system. By adding this extra motivational factor the government has successfully laid the foundation for the systemic transformation of the local ELT industry, which is to be led by learners' increased desire and dedication to second language acquisition. In addition, the government's recognition of international certificates as valid replacements for the national Maturita is testimony to the significant role international exams play in adding momentum to the efforts of any government aiming to make language learning in the state-school system more attractive.
There is no doubt that this legislation has inspired new developments in the way public secondary schools - and the state school system in general - perceive international certification. Head teachers have a tool to officially reward the efforts of ambitious students investing effort in acquiring language skills at a faster pace through extracurricular learning, while students in turn benefit from obtaining international language exams.
The recognition of international certificates has also generated other psychological benefits for learners. With this opportunity to seek alternatives to the English Maturita, students with international certificates find themselves under less pressure during exams as they can free up time that would have been required to prepare for the school leaving exam. This extra time can be invested in studying other subjects or simply relaxing, which reduces anxiety and improves performance during the exam period.
At City & Guilds, we believe that this promotion of learner needs, international exams and the local state school system serves to demonstrate a symbiosis in which state and international exams support each other in enhancing learners' communicative skills in English, which will enable them to become more productive, mobile and versatile members of society with improved prospects of personal and economic development.