Saturday, December 3, 2011

NEAT (국가영어능력평가시험) registration time through December 12th.

From December 1st through 12th is the first registration period for the National English Language Test (국가영어능력평가시험), the English-language proficiency exam with the lofty goals of replacing the TOEFL, TOEIC, and other foreign exams in Korea. Registration is now for Level 1---the “adult”, Business English exam---and is limited to the first 4,000 applicants. The test will be held on December 17th, at 44 different sites around the country.

The test consists of four sections: listening, reading, speaking, and writing. It runs from 9:30 to 5, with three breaks.

Under the test information (시헙안내) tab on the test's website you’ll find a .pdf with some sample questions, like:
Good morning everyone, here's a piece of good news for our company. After years of talks the U.S. and Thailand have agreed on a double-taxation treaty that will put American companies already operating there on a more level playing field with our competitors. That means royalties paid by a Thai firm to a U.S. firm will be subject to a Thai withholding tax of zero to 5%, compared to a 15% tax for countries without a treaty. That means more profit for us.

Q: What change will the treaty bring?
a) more sports coverage
b) less tax on royalties
c) a 15% tax on royalties
d) less American investment
Click on the 시험안내 tab, then click 영역별 문항유형, then click the Adobe logo.

The FAQ page tells us what Levels 1, 2, and 3 mean:
1급은 성인을 대상으로 대학교 졸업인증제, 입사 또는 승진 등에 활용하기 위해 개발한 비즈니스형 영어시험입니다.

이에 반해 2급과 3급은 고등학교 3학년을 대상으로 대학교 입학에 활용하기 위해 개발한 실용 및 아카데믹 영어시험입니다.
This test made the news in 2008, when the government decided to
introduce a state-certified English proficiency test from 2012 to improve practical English skills of students and eventually replace TOEFL and other foreign exam material.

The Ministry of Education, Science and Technology announced this and other measures to help reduce the amount of money people spend on private cram schools and language institutes.

The new test, tentatively named the State English Aptitude Test, will be modeled on Japan's Eiken English test, which has earned international recognition.

``We believe as long as we can develop a quality test, many overseas schools will accept it,'' Education Minister Ahn Byong-man said Thursday.
The way I see it, if the test can be most effective as a replacement to the way these foreign tests are used domestically: unnecessarily-challenging English-language exams to enter domestic schools and get domestic jobs. (Here's a look at the college entrance exam given last month, and here's some discussion on the---often incorrect---English portion that tests far beyond the practical abilities of most students.)

To “eventually replace TOEFL”, an international standard, and other tests is a little too ambitious. Japan’s EIKEN, cited by the Korea Times in 2008 as an example, is accepted at only a few hundred universities worldwide, most of them not prominent enough to attract foreign students interested in brand-name universities. In Pennsylvania, for example, it’s only recognized at:
Chatham University, Chestnut Hill College, Elizabethtown College, Gannon University, Gwynedd-Mercy College, Juniata College, Keystone College, Mansfield University, Northampton Community College, Pennsylvania Institute of Technology, Slippery Rock University, Susquehanna University, University of Scranton, Wilkes University, Wilson College, York College of Pennsylvania.
As I wrote in 2009, its influence is limited, but if the NEAT just grows as big as the EIKEN, that will open up some opportunities. To borrow what I wrote two years ago, those are fine enough schools, but
the state's biggest---Carnegie Mellon University, University of Pennsylvania, Penn State, University of Pittsburgh, Grove City College, Allegheny College, Temple University, and even my alma mater---don't accept it. International students can actually get a quality education at these universities, provided they apply themselves, and are more interested in an education than a line on their resume. Students interested in attending one of those universities may take the EIKEN, or a future Korean equivalent, and not burden themselves with an unnecessarily difficult exam. However, Korean students looking to go to a school for its name-brand will be disappointed, which makes it clear that students who study English with an eye toward going abroad eventually will still need to take the TOEFL, TOEIC, or other such exams.

1 comment:

Ed Provencher said...

This is a step in the right direction. Test scores drive education in SK, so it's great to see a speaking element included.