IELTS is an acronym for International English Language Testing System. It is a major certification of proficiency in English Language. IELTS
checks and rates the test taker on speaking, reading, writing and listening skills in the language.
English speaking nations in the developed world have used IELTS as a means of qualifying immigrants. In addition, universities in English speaking nations often ask for a proficiency in English test like IELTS before granting admission to international students.
On the surface, there seems to be a good reason to continue asking for language test. But there is a problem. Many countries colonized by English speaking countries have adopted English as official language. Therefore, in countries like Nigeria, South Africa, Ghana, Jamaica and so on, English is the lingua franca. Citizens of these countries use English as a means of communication in addition to their native languages. Basic and university education is done majorly in English.
Problem with IELTS, Others
Over the years, English speaking students from colonized countries had to prove their English proficiency. This is despite completely having their education in English Language.
Futhermore, there has been a sort of discrimination between so called native English speakers and those of other nations. The countries referred to as native speakers are United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. In job applications and university admissions, native speakers are given a free pass while non native speakers must present IELTS or other test.
This has bred a level of bias. Citizen of former colonial countries see this as neo colonialism or down right discrimination. As a matter of fact, being a native speaker of English doesn’t grant exceptional language skills. Many native speakers lack the grammar and vocabulary need for quality communication.
Moreover, the high cost of IELTS test just has it like similar ones makes it a burden. International students and immigrants have to pay and seat for IELTS at its exorbitant amount.
The Trigger against IELTS
Towards the end of January 2022, there was massive social media outcry in Nigeria against IELTS. Nigerians protested against what was seen as extortion and discriminatory practices.
The trending online protest lead to calls to the UK commission to review it language test requirements. Many asked it to scrap IELTS for students and work immigration. Using hashtags like #ReformIELTSPolicy, #IELTS and #TOEFL.
The call got to the adequate quarters and there was a response.
UK Response on IELTS Protest
The United Kingdom High Commission in Nigeria has given a response to the protest on it’s continual support to IELTS.
Premium Times reports that head of communications at the British High Commission, Dean Hurlock, gave a statement backing the use of IELTS. He was of the opinion that evidence of language competence is important for anyone who desires to work or study in the UK.
“We use CEFR (Common European Framework of Reference) levels to provide a common set of standards, and set them on a route by route basis, taking into account the types of activities and nature of the route. CEFR standards are an important common baseline to ensure applicants meet the required language standard.”
The standard set requirement for accepting citizens of a country is through language test. It is based on the total percentage on English language literacy in the country. Nigeria is below it’s benchmark of literacy skills in English language. Therefore, Nigerians must continue taking the tests.
Exception to IELTS, TOEFL
The British Commission also noted that Bachelor’s degree holders from Nigeria would be exempt from taking the language tests once their certificate can be verified by the UK body, Ecctis.
Generally, students applicants to British universities are exempt from the IELTS once the student present a WASSCE or NECO with at least C6 in English language.
Some universities in Canada and other parts of the world accept an official letter from the university of graduation. The letter would state that the language of instruction during the years of study at the university was English. This can be presented in lieu of language test scores.
Other Language Testing System
While IELTS seems to be popular, there are other English language test organisation. They are
– Test of English as a Foreign language. Owned by ETS that also offer the popular GRE, TOEFL is used worldwide for university admissions and immigration. In rare cases, it is the needed extra for getting a academic sponsorship for international students. TOEFL iBT
2. PTE: organised by PearsonPTE. It has become renowned and it is an alternative to IELTS and TOEFL. PTE is accepted for study and immigration in Australia, New Zealand and UK.