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TOEFL/Cambridge First

 
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simonenglish



Joined: 09 Aug 2011
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Sun May 06, 2012 10:23 pm    Post subject: TOEFL/Cambridge First Reply with quote

I have been in this vibrant country for three weeks and I am slowly picking up some private students. They are very flaky (changing times, cancelling and not showing up) but once I get a system in place (like making them pay in advance, etc) I think I can get something going..

Several want to do private lessons as preparation for the TOEFL exam. I am British so my personal preference would be for the Cambridge FCE, and one of my students wants to go to Europe so that certificate would be better for her. I haven't taught TOEFL before (just lots of TOEIC test prep) but from what I have seen the Cambridge FCE is a more well rounded test, and what I would like to recommend and help students prepare for..

I don't know how many FCE test centres there are in Colombia. I guess the British Council would do it in Bogota, but what about elsewhere? It might be just cheaper and more practical for students to do TOEFL!

Any info or suggestions welcome!
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotį, Colombia

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 12:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Cambridge equivalent of the TOEFL is IELTS. It's more versatile, and likely would be better for your students.

I have prepared students for FCE before. It's a fine test, but the disadvantage is that you either pass or fail. Passing certifies you at a B2 level I think, but if you fail you get nothing - leads to some very unhappy students. IELTS on the other hand just classifies students according to level - whether that be A2 or C2 - so no one actually "fails." To the best of my knowledge it's also more widely accepted than the FCE.

If you're set on the FCE, the main testing center would be the British Council - obviously they're in Bogota, but they're also opening up in Medellin and my guess is they'll do the Cambridge tests there, as well. There are also satellite test centers in just about all the major cities of Colombia with contracted test moderators, so it should be offered just about anywhere. Get in touch with the BC for more specific info.
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simonenglish



Joined: 09 Aug 2011
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 12:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, some useful info there. I will look at the IELTS test. I contacted the British Council and will see what they have to say..

In my honest opinion both the TOEFL and TOEIC exams are close to awful in regard to the multi-choice questions, overemphasis on Business English, and mundane subject matter. The Cambridge test seems far more lively, interesting, and just plain better.
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simonenglish



Joined: 09 Aug 2011
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Mon May 07, 2012 2:00 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Update: there are IELTS test centres all over the place, and four in Cali. The cost is not so different - cheapest price for IELTS test is 435,000 pesos in Cali vs 350,000 pesos to take the TOEFL test.
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disraeli123



Joined: 12 May 2012
Posts: 143
Location: San Luis Potosi, Mexico

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:56 pm    Post subject: IELTS vs. TOEFL Reply with quote

Hello Simonenglish, Just a different perspective. For your student wanting to go to Europe Ielts is just what he needs, but for students who are looking to enter U.S. and Canadian Universities Ielts would not be accepted by those Universities. The agreement betwen the two countries is that only TOEFL is recognized for student entrance purposes. As far as the TOEIC is concerned it is specifically for business English and most Asian companies use it exclusively to measure their executives and engineers English levels. It is also, used mostly in countries like Brazil and Chile for the same purpose.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1112
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

simonenglish wrote:

In my honest opinion both the TOEFL and TOEIC exams are close to awful in regard to the multi-choice questions, overemphasis on Business English, and mundane subject matter. The Cambridge test seems far more lively, interesting, and just plain better.


I work at a place that prepares students for FCE, but, I don't think you are fairly evaluating the TOEIC and TOEFL--the TOEIC exam is a Business English exam. So I don't see how it can over emphasize Business English, since that's what it is all about. The TOEFL exam was developed to test if students were capable of listening to academic lectures in English and doing the reading required for studying at an English medium university. It has evolved recently and make sure you are looking an up-to-date version rather than the older version.

While I've never been to Colombia, I do have a lot of experience in Latin America and I've found the biggest issue with standardized test and students, is that the students don't know what exam they should be preparing for and why. In Latin America you hear a lot of about the TOEFL. TOEFL TOEFL TOEFL and as mentioned, it's not pass/fail like the FCE, but students themselves don't seem to know it. They want to PASS the TOEFL because they've heard that's some sort of gold standard. They don't know that it's not something you can pass, and they don't really know what the test for designed for. They might not even be interested in studying in the US. The FCE and the CAE are really a more rounded measure of a student's ability to use English, but students need you to let them know that.
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Dragonlady



Joined: 10 May 2004
Posts: 716
Location: Chillinfernow, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I don't believe Cambridge exams set up students to either pass or fail - including the FCE as suggested.

Bands are awarded to students who sit the exam - bands 3, 4, 5 are deemed success - and yes, the FCE Cambridge exam is deemed equivalent to CEF's B2 level.
FCE exam consists of 5 papers - and it is possible to be unsuccessful on one or more of the 5 papers - yet achieve an overall score to which the student is awarded a band of 3, 4, 5 and - ultimately success.

Cambridge's suggests that learners at this level can be assumed to have sufficient ability to operate effectively in managerial posts or take a course of study in English - a suggestion I'm not sure I'm entirely in agreement with given the EL skills some holders of the FCE I've met have, but that's another story.

DL
Edited, with apologies for being so miserable the other day Embarassed


Last edited by Dragonlady on Wed Jun 06, 2012 1:51 am; edited 1 time in total
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Dragonlady



Joined: 10 May 2004
Posts: 716
Location: Chillinfernow, Canada

PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 11:24 pm    Post subject: Re: IELTS vs. TOEFL Reply with quote

disraeli123 wrote:
...but for students who are looking to enter U.S. and Canadian Universities Ielts would not be accepted by those Universities. The agreement betwen the two countries is that only TOEFL is recognized for student entrance purposes....

Not quite true, although this was the route students took in the past.

More and more post graduate institutes in Canada and the excited states of America are accepting IELTS, and many Mexican specialized post secondary institutes (Interior Design here in Veracruz, for example) are requesting IELTS scores.

Perhaps the change is based on the international focus (such as Design) of students' career choices?

DL
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simonenglish



Joined: 09 Aug 2011
Posts: 38

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 12:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It is good to hear about how the Cambridge exams are organised because I have little knowledge about that...

Thanks, MotherF, for the info. The only thing I am not sure about is the TOEIC Business English point. Business people are not taking the TOEIC test it is (in the vast majority) university students, especially in Asia. The test is being used to assess their general English skills, ability to study abroad and potential work skills. It is not really a Business English test, it is a English proficency test just like TOEFL or IELTS.
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MotherF



Joined: 07 Jun 2010
Posts: 1112
Location: 17°48'N 97°46'W

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 4:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Why take my word for it?
It's better to go straight to the source--and these days, it's easy.

http://www.ets.org/toeic
Quote:
Since 1979, organizations around the world have used the TOEIC® test to hire, place and promote employees.

http://www.ets.org/toefl
Quote:

The TOEFL® test is the most widely respected English-language test in the world, recognized by more than 8,500 colleges, universities and agencies in more than 130 countries. Wherever you want to study, the TOEFL test can help you get there.

http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/fce/index.html
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/assets/pdf/exams/fce/fce-statement-results.pdf
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/ielts/index.html

Who accepts which Cambridge Exam?
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/institutions/search.php
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Dragonlady



Joined: 10 May 2004
Posts: 716
Location: Chillinfernow, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Jun 05, 2012 10:00 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And incase the IELTS people are feeling left out...

Who accepts IELTS?
http://www.ielts.org/test_takers_information/who_accepts_ielts.aspx

DL
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windowlicker



Joined: 05 Jun 2008
Posts: 183
Location: Bogotį, Colombia

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 3:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dragonlady wrote:
I don't believe Cambridge exams set up students to either pass or fail - including the FCE as suggested.

Bands are awarded to students who sit the exam - bands 3, 4, 5 are deemed success


okay...fair enough, but from a student's (and teacher's) perspective, getting a 2 on the FCE essentially equates to failing, even if the term used isn't exactly "fail." If the FCE certifies you as having a B2 level and you score a 2 on the FCE, then according to the test you don't have a B2 level...you're at some undetermined level below that.

It's been several years now, but a while back i went through the oral examiner training course for PET, KET, and FCE. The way Cambridge presented these tests to us was that they certify you at a certain level - A2, B1, B2, respectively. Getting a 2 on any of the tests puts you below level...so more or less a 1 would equate to the student being far below the level being certified, and a 5 would equate to the student being well above the level being certified.

The end result is that you have students coming out of these tests feeling like they failed if they scored a 1 or 2 - they are at some undetermined level below what is being measured, but they can't really say they are certified at any specific level - scoring a 2 on the FCE doesn't necessarily certify you at a B1. With IELTS or TOEFL, even if a student doesn't get what they're looking for, they can at least say their score equates to some level on the CEF scale.

Regardless, PET, KET, and FCE don't seem widely recognized to me, so doing TOEFL or IELTS just seems to make much more sense...at least in Colombia.
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Dragonlady



Joined: 10 May 2004
Posts: 716
Location: Chillinfernow, Canada

PostPosted: Thu Jun 07, 2012 4:58 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Something else to consider - it is my understanding that students who are awarded FCE (or better CAE or CPE) have this designation for life, where as TOEFL and IELTS designations have a short life span. There is discrepancy as to whether it's 2 or 3 (or more) years depending on the institute(s) accepting these designations.

Not sure if MotherF included this in her suggested links or not, but
http://www.cambridgeesol.org/exams/index.html for an overview of the exams they offer.

Regardless, I do recommend students check with the institute where they wish to study/work to find out which exam results will be recognized before making any decisions.

DL
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