EF Education First, a private education company, is working with LinkedIn to test members of the business social networking site on the language of business: English.
The idea is simple. When LinkedIn users in non-English speaking countries update their profiles, they will be asked if they would like to take the EFSET test. The EFSET test is a free online standardized English test from EF Education First. LinkedIn will redirect users to EF’s website to take the test. Users can then post their certified EFSET test results on their LinkedIn profile. There is no cost for users.
The EF-LinkedIn partnership offers English learners a free and convenient way to demonstrate their English ability online. However, the EFSET test is new and not as well known as the TOEFL and IELTS.
There are other online testing options for English learners. Transparent Language offers an online English proficiency test with four parts: two levels of grammar, a vocabulary section, and a reading comprehension section. The results of the test give a percentage of the overall score.
A fun, casual way to test your language ability can be found on "Which's English." This is a game-like quiz that Transparent Language includes on its Free Resources page. Players look at two words or phrases and choose the one that is actually English. For example, is "muplex" or "conciliation" an English word?
At the end of the game, the players receive the correct answer and an explanation for each question.
Which is English? sample item
Several companies have online English proficiency tests. They often place a student into a level of an online teaching program associated with the company. Most of the tests just measure knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and reading. Students preparing for a standardized test of English should also check their listening skill. Exam English has free online tests that include listening comprehension sections. The test taker listens to an audio clip and answers questions about it.
Colleges and universities accept international students based on their test scores or placement on a widely-accepted proficiency scale, like the Common European Framework of Reference, CEFR. Employers decide on their own which test results to accept for international applicants.
Since online tests do not have a way to proctor the test-taker, their results are best for a casual self-assessment by the learner, or as a tool to guide study. Putting them on social media, such as a LinkedIn profile, means the scores are available to anyone on the Internet.
Minh Tran is the Director of Research and Academic Partnerships at EF. He says sharing test scores on social media may affect a person's reputation.
"If you say on LinkedIn that you have an EF 80 score, which is a high score, it's an advanced C2 score, and you go into an interview and you clearly do not have that advanced level of English, that is your reputation at stake."
Mr. Tran says the eyes of the world on social media should encourage truthful reporting of test scores.
"I actually think that social networks keep us more honest than if it were a traditional resume, because on a traditional resume, only the interviewer sees your resume, but your LinkedIn profile - the whole world can see it."
It is too early to tell if EF’s collaboration with LinkedIn will be a success. But one thing is sure—you can’t beat the price.
Adam Brock and Dr. Jill Robbins reported and wrote this story for VOA Learning English. Hai Do was the editor.
Words in This Story
network(ing) - v. to talk with people whose jobs are similar to yours especially for business opportunities or advice
comprehension - n. ability to understand
proctor - v. to watch students who are taking an examination
placement - n. the act of finding an appropriate place for someone to live, work, or learn
reputation - n. the way in which people think of someone or something
Now it's your turn. What do you think of taking an online language test? Have you tried taking one? Write to us in the comments section.