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Is the TOEIC test really an indicator of functional English?

23 Aug

The Test of English for International Communication (TOEIC) measures the ability test-takers to use English in everyday workplace activities.  There are over three million TOEIC test-takers in over sixty countries worldwide each year, with Japan and South Korea making up most of these.

The TOEIC tests, (there are now three: Speaking; Writing; Reading and Listening), despite addressing the four main components of English study, remain inefficient in indicating functional English proficiency.

A brief intro to the three TOEIC tests

The TOEIC®Reading and Listening test is the original test, and was highly criticized for not effectively assessing English fluency as it was missing ever so important speaking and writing components.  ETS, the company who provides the both  the TOEFL and TOEIC exams, addressed this and came out with TOEIC® Speaking and Writing tests  in 2007.  Therefore, there are now three tests that complete the TOEIC repetoire.  Still, it leaves me wanting more.

Why I feel TOEIC isn’t a sufficient indicator of functional English:

  • Not all institutions require all three tests, and it is often the Listening and Reading test only that is taken and scored for.   Because of my belief being that language is a whole entity, and can not readily be divided and subdivided beyond an academic lens, this test just isn’t a good indicator of functional English, or English proficiency.
  • In addition, the vocabulary and strong grammatical emphasis in the TOEIC Reading and Listening test make it impractical for everyday English situations that would be encountered in most workplaces abroad.
  • Finally, TOEIC does not integrate the English skills it tests for.  In opposition, the TOEFL test is an integrative, reflexive test that brings together reading, writing, listening, and speaking, in a variety of questioning formats.   The TOEIC is a multiple choice test that doesn’t allow for as much integration.



Here’s the TOEIC Korea site in 한국어.

Here’s a Wiki Article on the TOEIC.

Here’s a sample test for the TOEIC Speaking and Writing Tests.

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