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Looking Back, Looking Forward: Trends in Intensive English Program Enrollments TOEFL ESL

Powell, William W.
Publication Year:
Report Number:
ETS Research Memorandum
Document Type:
Page Count:
Subject/Key Words:
Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL), Second Language Programs, English as a Second Language (ESL), Enrollment Trends, Foreign Students, Socioeconomic Influences, Washback Effect [Testing]


In order to create credible forecasts for enrollment trends in intensive English language programs (IEPs) in the United States, analyses of past influences on IEP enrollments were undertaken. Reviews of available censuses of international students were conducted and then related to external circumstances that seem to affect the movement of students into IEPs. The implications of similar circumstances for future IEP enrollments and for future IEP-related use of the TOEFL test were then posed. A final section of the monograph discusses "test reverberation," or the attitudinal impact that changes in TOEFL format will have on IEP students, instructors, and administrators. World economics, political developments, and educational policy and social change were viewed as the three major categories of influences on IEP student flows. Within each category a number of factors were identified as having substantial potential to affect IEP enrollments. The interrelatedness of many of the variables influencing IEP enrollments was also discussed, as were the possible effects of previously unencountered influences. The major findings of the study suggest that IEP administrators should pay close attention to events occurring far outside the walls of their English programs in order both to anticipate future enrollments and to position their programs to respond to changes in the intensive English market.

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