AMIDEAST Using the TOEFL® Junior™ Test to Help Young English Language Learners
- Tom Ewing
- Tom Ewing
Princeton, N.J. (December 13, 2011) —
This press release is also available in Arabic.
AMIDEAST, a leading American nonprofit organization engaged in international education, training and development activities in the Middle East and North Africa, is utilizing the TOEFL® Junior™ test to track the progress of young English language learners across the region as a bridge to success in school and life.
The TOEFL Junior test, created by U.S.-based Educational Testing Service (ETS), is designed specifically for students aged 11–15 for whom English is a foreign language, and measures the language proficiency needed for life and learning in English-speaking middle and secondary schools. More than 25 countries are currently administering the TOEFL Junior test, or will be soon.
AMIDEAST is utilizing it to track the language proficiency gains of participants in its youth-focused English language programs across the twelve MENA countries in which it operates. English is increasingly recognized in the region as a critical skill for success. These programs help to increase the academic and lifelong opportunities of youth, including middle and secondary students from underserved areas.
"For most of the students, the TOEFL Junior is their first experience with a standardized English language proficiency exam," explains Helena Simas, AMIDEAST’s Regional Director of English Language Programs "We want to raise people’s awareness about the need to start younger with language programs. Feedback from the students has been very positive, as they find the test matches the communication-based English language approach of their classes. Teachers have responded positively, too."
Simas notes that most of these students come in with very low-level English skills. It is particularly important to be able to track their progress and provide them with a language measure they can use to help make decisions about their future. Additionally, what has made the TOEFL Junior attractive is that it is mapped to the Common European Framework of Reference for Languages (CEFR). The CEFR provides a standardized basis for the recognition of language qualifications, thus facilitating educational and occupational mobility.
"The unemployment rate is very high in the Middle East," Simas adds. "Part of the reason is that many young people find themselves ineligible for jobs because of their lack of English skills. There are a number of assistance programs aimed at improving English ability among college students or graduates in the region, but few for younger learners. Using the TOEFL Junior supports our efforts to start these intervention programs much earlier as part of an approach to familiarize students, parents and teachers with the world of opportunities out there."
For more information about TOEFL Junior, visit: http://www.ets.org/toefl_junior/