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TOEIC Newsletter


Special Feature


TOEIC in Action Around the Globe


With the rapid advancement of computer and network technology, and the widespread use of the Internet, the world is becoming increasingly borderless, not just in business but in all other areas of our lives. Today, 3.4 million people in about 60 countries annually take the TOEIC test, which is accepted worldwide as a uniform test of English communicative skills. In Japan, a cumulative total of more than 11.7 million people had taken the test by the end of the 2003 fiscal year. Twenty-five years have passed since the first TOEIC test was administered in Japan in December 1979. In this issue we take a look back on this period. We also highlight how TOEIC is faring in countries around the world.

Twenty-five years of the TOEIC ® (Page 2 -) Special feature: TOEIC ® in action around the globe

South Korea (Page 5 -) China (Page 10 -) Taiwan (Page 11 -) Thailand (Page 12 -) Vietnam (Page 14 -) Mexico (Page 15 -) Brazil (Page 16 -) Europe (Page 17 -) Data on TOEIC test takers worldwide (Page 18 -) Countries and regions where TOEIC is utilized (Page 19 -)

The TOEIC ® Newsletter is published quarterly by The Institute for International Business Communication (IIBC) in Japanese. It features how the TOEIC ® test is used effectively within companies, universities and other institutions. We offer the latest case studies of TOEIC ® test usage to our clients, so they can take full advantage of the TOEIC ® test within their organization. In this journal, we also introduce a trend of global human resources development and the globalization movement in Japan. The TOEIC ® Newsletter No.89 is translated into English by IIBC for its readers around the world. TOEIC is a registered trademark of Educational Testing Service (ETS).

Published by Public Relations Department The Institute for International Business Communication (IIBC) Sanno Grand Building 2-14-2, Nagata-cho,Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-0014, Japan Phone: 81/3-3581-5663 Fax: 81/3-3581-9801 Official Website:

Issued April 2005


Twenty-five years of the TOEIC

Twenty-five years have passed since the first TOEIC open test was administered in Japan in December 1979. In September 2004, the Educational Testing Service (ETS), the organization that developed the TOEIC test, granted an award to the Institute for International Business Communication in recognition of its activities related to the implementation and operation of the TOEIC test in Japan. The institute has seen its mission as the promotion of smooth communication in global business. How, then, has globalization proceeded in Japan during these 25 years, and what kind of role has the TOEIC test played within this context? Here we look back on the globalization of Japan and the course of TOEIC's history.


The crystal shield presented by ETS

The business community: Leading the introduction of TOEIC

The TOEIC test aims to assess the ability to communicate in English as an international language in a general context, as opposed to testing academic English or special business terminology. The idea for the test came from Japan, and TOEIC was developed by ETS, a U.S. not-for-profit test development organization, guided by the principle that this is a test for English as an international language. Dedicated to educational research, ETS is the largest organization of its kind in the world. More than 2,800 in-house and outside staff

members, including educational experts, linguists, statisticians, and psychologists, contribute their expertise. In addition to the development, production, and implementation of most of the public tests given in the U.S., ETS conducts a wide array of activities, including research in educational areas. In December 1979, the first TOEIC open test was given in Japan, ahead of the rest of the world. At the time, Japan had been second in the world in terms of GNP for approximately ten years, and Japanese corporations were beginning to shift the focus of their overseas business activities from import and export of goods to direct overseas investment, with local production and sales. This


shift was prompting some companies to organize English training programs in order to develop internationally competent personnel. TOEIC was increasingly used in these training programs for target-setting because it can assess English proficiency in terms of a score from 10 to 990, and has a uniform evaluation scale. It was the first test of its kind in Japan. As more and more corporations introduced the test in their company programs, the Institutional Program (IP Test) was launched in 1981 to address the needs of the business community.

Working toward improved company-wide English skills: More companies take advantage of TOEIC

As the Japanese economy boomed and the world looked on admiringly, with the country earning the title of "Japan as No. 1," the 1980s were a time when the use of TOEIC became particularly widespread in the business community. The sharp appreciation of the yen in the wake of the 1985 Plaza Accord led the business community to make further offshore investments and set up local subsidiaries. With the advancement of globalization throughout the corporate sector, the TOEIC test began to find uses that went beyond the screening of personnel for overseas assignments.Companies began using TOEIC as part of their in-house testing programs and for study-abroad programs. With the advent of the 1990s, the bursting of the economic bubble threw the Japanese economy into a tailspin. Even so, the number of people taking the TOEIC test remained relatively stable. From 1992 to 1994, the number of people taking the TOEIC test remained roughly unchanged, and from 1995, the number has been increasing steadily. One of the factors behind this phenomenon may be the advancement of IT. Businesses now largely depend on e-mail, written in English, to communicate with their overseas suppliers and customers, and use the Internet to disclose corporate information. This globalization of corporate activity continues to accelerate, so that the ability to communicate in English is all the more essential. To address this situation, companies have begun to work toward motivating their employees to study English; by, for instance, establishing a certain level of English proficiency or a certain TOEIC scoreas a requirement for advancement or promotion.

Universities adopt TOEIC, reflecting corporate needs

Another reason the number of people taking TOEIC increased starting around 1995 was the increased recognition of TOEIC among university students. After the collapse of the bubble economy, companies were beginning to reduce the number of people they were hiring straight out of university. In response, more students began to take the TOEIC test in order to use their English proficiency to demonstrate their superiority as potential employees when applying for jobs. At the same time, more employers began to include applicants' TOEIC scores in the selection process. This in turn further motivated students to take the TOEIC test, driving up the number of TOEIC takers even higher. The fact that corporations were starting to require practical English skills had an effect on the kind of English education provided at universities. Classes began to shift away from the conventional mode of translating and reading comprehension, toward methods that emphasized communicative English. More universities were insisting on offering small class sizes and ability-based classes to help students acquire the kind of English they could use in real life. And more of these universities were using the TOEIC test to stream students and evaluate their skill levels. On another level, the 1999 approval by the Ministry of Education (now the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology) of TOEIC as a requirement for earning credits prompted educational institutions to use the test in their accrediting process and for entrance examinations. Following the spread of TOEIC use at the tertiary level, more high schools are now offering TOEIC to their students.


Emphasis on communication in English classes making TOEIC's role more important

From the latter half of the 1990s, against the backdrop of falling land prices and deregulations brought about by the stagnant economy, foreign capital began to pour into Japan, resulting in a flurry of M&As and capital tie-ups. With the globalization of the world economy, the business environment Japanese companies operated within was undergoing a sea change. Some companies responded by thoroughly committing themselves to improving the English proficiency of their employees, requiring everyone to take the TOEIC test including the president! Other companies made English the official in-house language. It became more and more common to use TOEIC scores as a requirement for recruitment, advancement, and promotion. In addition to English becoming increasingly indispensable in the business community, the January 2000 proposal by the Prime Minister's Commission on Japan's Goals for the 21st Century, a private advisory body of the late Prime Minister Obuchi, added further fuel to the fire by recommending efforts be made to make English a second official language. This was envisaged as a long-term national task aimed at assisting the establishment of global literacy. The passion for studying English reached boiling point, and Japan entered an English education boom. Given this situation, the TOEIC test was utilized in many different situations, with roughly 2,400 companies,

organizations, and schools adopting the test in fiscal 2003, and approximately 1.42 million people taking the test. As English learners became a more diverse group of people, the need arose for a test that was "easier," "dealt with more familiar, day-to-day situations," and was "less time-consuming" than TOEIC. In response to this need, TOEIC Bridge was introduced in November 2001 as a test for beginning and intermediate learners of English. The test duplicates features of TOEIC, such as the use of a score to indicate achievement and a highly reliable scaling function. At present, Japanese junior and senior high schools are offering English classes that emphasize "basic and practical communication abilities" under the Action Plan to Cultivate "Japanese with English Abilities." In line with this English educational reform there has been a commitment to improve the quality and qualifications of English teachers, with a target score of TOEIC 730 being established as a desirable skill level for English instructors. The use of TOEIC is also becoming more and more common in recruitment tests for English teachers. Twenty-five years after its introduction, the TOEIC test now plays a vital role in the increasingly global society by accurately assessing the communicative ability of English learners. In the context of English education becoming more focused on communication skills, TOEIC is sure to play an even greater part in the development of personnel capable of performing effectively on the global stage.




English education even given to assembly line workers on the production floor

In South Korea, where TOEIC was first introduced in 1982, the number of TOEIC takers has been climbing steadily since 2000. In 2003, about 1.69 million people sat for the test, an astonishing 49% increase over the previous year. The figure is projected to be about 1.8 million in 2004. As can be clearly seen from these figures, there is an increasingly strong commitment to improving English skills in South Korea. Sunshik Min, president of YBM/Sisa, which engages in the implementation and operation of TOEIC in South Korea and also operates an array of English education businesses, including English conversation schools, offers the following analysis regarding the background to this commitment. "While there are many different factors, I would say the key determinant was the influx of foreign companies due to the policy of economic liberalization from 1997 onward in the wake of the nation's acceptance of IMF aid to deal with the financial crisis. The wave of foreign firms accelerated the globalization of the Korean economy, and

dramatically increased the need for English. We are at the point now where in South Korea, any business person with insufficient English skills will be left behind." A trading country in many ways similar to Japan, South Korea is even more reliant on trade than Japan. Therefore, it is no exaggeration to say that English ability has an effect on a given company's competitiveness. That is why many companies devote their lunch breaks and take time before and after office hours to improve staff English skills through English training programs. Increasingly, these programs are being offered to assembly line workers and production employees in addition to their white-collar counterparts. The reason why more companies are working to improve the English skills of their assembly line workers is that these employees need English as well, since they may be sent overseas to give technical guidance or be


required to read manuals (often written in English) on how to use production equipment. As English becomes essential for every conceivable sector, the use of TOEIC is spreading as a way of assessing English proficiency. Already widely accepted in industry, TOEIC is being utilized by over 1,000 companies. According to Dong-Hyun Lee, Executive Director of the South Korean Representative Office, the reason for TOEIC's acceptance by the business community is as follows: "South Korean companies are becoming increasingly international, with the use of spoken English now an everyday occurrence. Companies need their employees to acquire more practical English communication skills. TOEIC has won wide acceptance because it is a tool that can measure such skills, and also because its validity has been widely recognized."

TOEIC score requirement for employees rises yearly

For companies and organizations, TOEIC is most frequently used for recruitment. There may be a certain score required of applicants, or TOEIC may be used as a substitute for a portion of the recruitment test, or for reference purposes. In other cases, TOEIC scores may also be used as one of the criteria for assigning or reorganizing personnel, making promotions or advancements, or sending people on overseas assignments. The way South Korean companies use TOEIC scores is not that different from their Japanese counterparts. However, South Korean companies stand out in terms of the high scores they demand of their employees. In particular, companies tend to require higher scores from their new recruits compared to existing personnel, and the score requirement rises year after year. Let us look at some specific examples. At LG Electronics, headquartered in Seoul, foreign sales account for over 80 percent of total sales, making English skills a prerequisite. In recent years, more advanced levels of English ability have become necessary, meaning that the head office is now demanding higher standards from university graduates applying for jobs. Currently the standard is a TOEIC score of at least 800. In addition, LG Electronics plans to make English an official language in 2008. At the National Agricultural Cooperative

Federation, which is involved in banking, insurance (mutual), and investment trust operations, as well as distribution of agricultural products, English skills are needed to keep track of offshore cases and conduct research. All of the departments in the Federation now have personnel dispatched to overseas locations, and the Federation requires new graduates applying for employment to achieve a TOEIC score of at least 750. While the above examples illustrate the scores required of new graduates, many companies have a TOEIC score requirement of 600 for personnel wishing to be considered for promotion or advancement. In many cases, a score of at least 900 is the standard for overseas assignments.

TOEIC being introduced into more state examinations

In South Korea, the corporate sector (which includes general companies, foreign capitalized firms, and public corporations) is not the only sector utilizing TOEIC. Approximately 60 government organizations and public entities, including the Ministry of Government Administration and Home Affairs, the Ministry of National Defense, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade, have introduced the test for recruitment and advancement. Even the military uses TOEIC when considering personnel for advancement or overseas assignments. There is also a growing movement to incorporate TOEIC into national civil servant and state qualification examinations. In high-level state examinations, such as the


national bar examination for judges, prosecutors, lawyers, and military prosecutors, and the foreign affairs examination for selecting middle-ranking civil servants to carry out diplomatic duties, TOEIC was adopted in 2004 as one of the tests to replace the English test previously used. In the same way, TOEIC is slated for adoption in 2005 to be used in conjunction with the high-level examinations for government administration, technology, and legislation positions. In national civil servant examinations for police officers, maritime police officers, fire fighters, and firefighting managerial candidates, a system is used whereby additional points are given depending on an applicant's TOEIC score. In addition, state qualification examinations, such as those for tour guides and interpreters, hotel administrators, and hotel managers, also switched their English tests over to TOEIC in 2004, while the patent attorney examination, a specialized patentrelated qualification, will adopt TOEIC in 2005. The examination for certified public accountants (CPAs), a specialized financial-related qualification dealing with taxation and accounting, is scheduled to incorporate TOEIC in 2007.

More people taking TOEIC to prepare for higher education and employment

As English becomes a necessity for every occupation, the use of TOEIC is spreading among universities, which are concentrating on developing English education courses that emphasize communication ability. A growing number of universities use TOEIC scores in those examinations designed to identify applicants with outstanding foreign language skills. In 2004, 94 universities used TOEIC scores for this purpose. While the required score level varies from 300 to 950-plus, many universities require a score that falls within the range of 700 to 850-plus points. Other uses for TOEIC at universities include the following: for granting credits (30 universities); as part of admission tests for persons transferring from other institutions (4 universities); for selecting persons to receive scholarships (31 universities); for selecting persons to send on language training programs overseas (13 universities); and as part of the graduation requirement (41 universities). More university students are now taking TOEIC, thanks to the expanding use of the test not

only at the corporate level but at universities as well. These students are honing their English skills on a daily basis and sitting for the TOEIC test for a variety of reasons: some are trying to get into studyabroad programs, others are looking to earn credits or a diploma, and still others are preparing for entry into the workforce. Out of all TOEIC test takers, 58.7 percent are students, of which 85.3 percent are university students (as of 2003), making them the largest single group of test takers. Company employees rank second to university students, and are followed by graduate students, high school students, junior high school students, military personnel, civil servants, teachers, and elementary school pupils, in descending order. The use of TOEIC at the university level, including its use in admission examinations, is leading to an increase in the number of high school students who take the test. Furthermore, with fierce competition in South Korea to get into the better schools, there are significantly more junior high school and elementary school children taking TOEIC in preparation for university entrance examinations and employment. In South Korea, English is a compulsory subject from the third grade in elementary school. English instruction focuses mainly on communication. As English skills become ever more essential, a large number of students are attending English cram schools and prep schools (private English schools), driven by a sense of how vital English is to their future job prospects. In this way, a commitment to English at an early stage is prompting more students to take a shot at TOEIC as a step toward achieving their desired course of study or work. As can be seen from the growing number of TOEIC takers, the entire nation of South Korea is committed to English education. Mr. Lee had these final words to say regarding the role TOEIC is expected to play in the future. "The TOEIC program has played a major role in improving the practical English communication skills of South Koreans, for whom grammar had been the focus of English education for many years. In the future, I expect the test will play an even greater role in helping to create a better English learning environment for South Koreans in every arena, including education, business, and public administration."




as well. In the in-house language training program, one of ATK's foreign language education programs, the company pays half the tuition. Thirty-five classes are offered, with lecturers brought in from outside the company. Eighty percent of these classes teach English. Other initiatives include the adoption of elearning in 2004. This program targets production line employees who have difficulty participating in regular English programs due to the company's three-shift operation. In addition, employees who require a crash course in English may participate in an intensive English program paid for entirely by the company. In this program, staff members study English full-time for 10 weeks. Both the in-house foreign language programs and the e-learning programs boast high participation rates. This stems from the fact that

ATK, the South Korean subsidy of the American company ATI, was established in 1968 as the first semiconductor assembly company in the nation. Today the company has three plants and more than 6,000 employees. The vast majority of ATK's 200-plus clients are foreign firms. Because each client has a different range of requirements, the ability to communicate in foreign languages is a necessity for every department in the company, including the production line. For this reason, ATK is working hard to make foreign language education the pillar of its internationalization strategy. The company places particular emphasis on the ability to use English, although training is offered in Chinese and Japanese


English skills are essential for promotion and advancement at ATK. ATK adopted TOEIC in 1986, and uses the test for recruitment, in-house language education, and promotion/advancement. In the cae of new recruits, the company requires a TOEIC score of 550 to 600 for students graduating from vocational colleges, 800 for B.A. students, and 750 for B.Sc. students. While the TOEIC score required for promotion varies according to the specific job description, the company demands a high level of achievement. For instance, a TOEIC score of less than 700 leads to a negative assessment when the review is held to determine eligibility to receive the "newly-appointed representative qualification," which is granted to B.A. and B.Sc. holders after three years with the company provided they meet the requirements.


Sungkyunkwan University is a prestigious private university with a proud history of over 600 years. The Sungkyun Language Institute, which is located within the university and offers systematic language education for the improvement of students' language skills, was established in 1964 as a "Video and Audio Education Center," and was expanded and reorganized in 1996. At present, the institute has 20 non-Korean lecturers, 4 special TOEIC course lecturers, and 10 lecturers for the Korean language program. Courses offered include English classes for undergraduates, education in a second foreign language, and Korean language classes for foreign students. In 1996, when the Sungkyun Language

Institute was established, Sungkyunkwan University adopted the Sam-Pum system, a unique graduation certification system consisting of qualifications in the three areas of "humanity," "international awareness," and "knowledge and ability to use IT." Passing the "international awareness" component verifies that a student has the ability to use a foreign language, and certification is granted when a candidate achieves the required score in one of the designated languages, such as English, French, or Chinese. TOEIC is one of the tests used to verify that an appropriate level of English language skills has been attained. While the required score varies according to the particular faculty, the range is from 550 to 700-plus. Candidates who score 900 points or more are certified as having "outstanding international awareness" and earn the right to be recommended for scholarships. Because TOEIC is less expensive to take than other tests, and because it is also necessary for employment, more than 90 percent of graduating English majors have taken TOEIC. When first introduced, some students found the system confusing and failed to graduate because they could not meet the graduation requirements. However, the adoption of the system appears to have served as a catalyst for boosting students' interest in improving their English skills. In fact, standard scores have risen since the system was first adopted, and the scores achieved at the time of graduation are rising as well. With the introduction of the Sam-Pum system, Sungkyunkwan University adopted TOEIC in 1998 and administers the test three times a year. At Sungkyunkwan University, passing the TOEIC test is not only proof of "international awareness"; it also serves as a standard for special admission, as a graduation test for graduate students, and to select students qualified to receive honor roll awards.



Utilization of the TOEIC test spreads among foreign-affiliated companies

In China, which is playing an increasingly dominant role in the world economy, the TOEIC test has been used since 2002. Xiang Wu of the China Representative Office explained the spread of the TOEIC test at companies as follows: "Since China joined the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, an increasing number of foreign companies have been establishing branches, production bases, and business bases in China. At these multinational companies, English is the principal language, and the number of companies that use the TOEIC test is increasing. Requests for the implementation of the test by Japanese-affiliated companies are also rapidly increasing." In fact, companies operating globally, such as Microsoft, Mazda, and LG Electronics, are among those that have adopted the TOEIC test. Most companies that have introduced the TOEIC test require their employees to learn English. Quite a few companies bear the cost of tuition fees provided employees achieve a score above a prescribed level. Along with an increase in the number of companies that have adopted the TOEIC test, use of the test at schools is also progressing. The TOEIC test is being used mainly at universities and colleges as a placement test, as part of job seeking activities, and as a screening test for students who want to study abroad.

Expectations high for the TOEIC test becoming the main English examination

In China, about 70 percent of TOEIC

examinees are students. Of these, about 60 percent are university or college students and about 30 percent are graduate school students. Motivation varies, and there are some examinees who take the TOEIC test to study abroad. Since opening its doors to the rest of the world, China has sent many students overseas for study. Students who have returned from overseas occupy leading positions in a number of domestic and overseas fields in the political, economic and academic areas and are contributing to China's economic progress. This in turn is stimulating an increasing number of students to study overseas, particularly in the United States and Japan. At times, students are required to achieve a prescribed TOEIC score as a condition for studying abroad or obtaining a scholarship. Among TOEIC examinees, the number of students who want to study abroad represents a significant percentage. Thus, TOEIC has rapidly penetrated China. In summary, Xiang Wu said that as China is expected to make further economic progress with the approach of the Beijing Olympic Games, the role the TOEIC test will perform will become more significant. "Among Chinese companies, there is a trend towards engaging in international operations, and English proficiency will become one of the most important skills. TOEIC is being used as a nationwide English proficiency test at workplaces by China's Ministry of Labour and Social Security. As a result, it is expected that TOEIC will be used more by Chinese companies at the time of recruitment and become one of the chief English tests."



The increasingly globalized Taiwanese business community

Many foreign capital firms have their production bases in Taiwan, where the semiconductor, liquid crystal display, precision instrument, and other IT industry sectors are world class. In recent years, Taiwanese companies have also been actively expanding overseas, thus increasing the need for English speaking staff in domestic companies as well, according to T. J. Shao of the Taiwan Representative Office. He notes: "Many IT-related companies have offshore subsidiaries. In such companies, it is increasingly the case that English is used as the common language within the company. Naturally, the movement to improve the English skills of employees is gaining momentum. The use of TOEIC is now spreading beyond foreign firms to include domestic companies as well." As of 2003, 126 companies had adopted TOEIC. The test is used as a standard for recruitment, promotion and advancement, as well as in the selection of employees for overseas business trips.


The need for English rising among universities and government agencies

In Taiwan, where the need for English is rising, there is a growing commitment to improving English skills. English education in Taiwan formerly started in junior high school. The system was amended in 2001 to make English a compulsory subject from the fifth grade of elementary school onward. However, in response to growing calls to expose children to English at an even earlier stage, English will be taught from third grade starting in 2005. In addition, starting in 2007, students at universities and vocational schools will be required to acquire a certain level of English ability. In Taiwan, there is an English test called the General English Proficiency Test (GEPT),

which is unique to the country and whose administration is outsourced by the Taiwanese Ministry of Education. Students will be required to pass at least the intermediate level of this test, which indicates they are able to carry on simple everyday conversations. At the outset, the plan was to approve only the GEPT test, but once the decision to adopt the system was announced, many expressed the opinion that an internationally recognized, standardized test should be used as well. As a result, students will also be allowed to take the TOEIC, TOEFL, or IELTS in lieu of GEPT. The required scores for TOEIC and the other tests are presently under review. Education is not the only area in which efforts are being made to raise the level of English skills. Administrative bodies have a similar commitment. It is now mandatory for civil servants who use English in their work at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Government Information Office to pass at least the intermediate level of GEPT. In addition, every national civil servant who is 40 years old or younger is now required to pass at least the beginner level of GEPT within three years in order to qualify for promotion. This age group makes up about half of all national civil servants. The use of the TOEIC test in future is also under review. Mr. Shao comments on the role TOEIC will be expected to play in this context:

"We often find people have difficulty with speaking and listening in English, even if they can read and write to a certain degree. Nevertheless, the need in the business community is for more proficiency in English communication, including speaking and listening. We believe TOEIC will play a major role in terms of indicating that type of practical English ability, and will become even more widely adopted in the educational community as well."



Even administrative staff members and schoolteachers are required to achieve a set score

The TOEIC test was introduced into Thailand in 1988. As the Thai economy grew


rapidly with a continuous inflow of foreign TOEIC has also been adopted by capital, the TOEIC test rapidly spread as a tool to administrative departments and is being used as a screen job applicants and individuals who wanted yardstick when posting staff to overseas to receive instruction in English. It has also served assignments and estimating pay raises or making as a yardstick to measure the results of such promotions. Moreover, people who want to instruction. become English teachers are required to submit For example, Thai Airways International their TOEIC scores. when recruiting flight attendants hires only those With the spread of the TOEIC test in the with TOEIC scores of 600 or higher at the time business world, the number of working adults of application. By using the TOEIC test as part of who sit for the test to obtain jobs or upgrade their its recruitment process, the airline can select flight careers has shown a marked increase. attendants from among applicants who have the Increased use of the TOEIC test in required level of English ability for the position education also anticipated and moreover can reduce the number of human resource staff needed to screen new employees and the time required to screen applicants. In Thailand, English language instruction Use of the TOEIC test is spreading not starts in the first year of elementary education (at only in the aviation industry but also in the age of six or seven). manufacturing electronics, financial institutions, Robert Woodhead says he hopes to see the hotels, travel agencies and telecommunications use of TOEIC adopted more widely in education, companies. Robert Woodhead of the Thailand as the need for English is rising and more time Representative Office explained the situation as and energy is being spent on English language follows: "When a broad range of industries from education. manufacturing to services are active globally, both "TOEIC has established itself as a means the private and public sectors set increasingly to measure the English proficiency of people higher levels of English language proficiency working in business," Mr. Woodhead says. "But requirements. In a growing number of cases, this test can be effective for all people who learn high-level staff members are given positions where English. I hope it will spread from the business English is important, and the TOEIC test market to education, as it is this sector which performs an important role in the selection supplies business with the men and women process." equipped with the necessary skills."



Business demands higher English proficiency

The TOEIC test started in Vietnam in 2001. The test is being conducted in three cities: Ho Chi Minh, the economic center, Hanoi, the capital, and Danang, the largest port city in central Vietnam. Working adults represent 90 percent of the examinees. The rapid globalization of the Vietnamese economy is one reason that working adults, particularly company employees, rather than students constitute the overwhelming majority of examinees. After the end of the Vietnam War in 1975, Vietnam introduced a market economy and since 1986 has practiced the new Doi Moi policy of opening its domestic market to the rest of the world. As a result, economic and technological exchanges between Vietnam and foreign countries increased, and the number of foreign companies that launched operations in Vietnam rose. The need for English has increased, particularly in business. In 2003, the TOEIC test was being used at about 45 companies. At Vietnam Airlines, a score of 500 is the target for English training. At companies that use TOEIC, set scores serve as preconditions for advancement and promotion, and the TOEIC test is used as a yardstick for each job category and for deciding if someone is eligible to be sent overseas on business trips. In response to the increasing use of TOEIC at companies, the number of students

who use the TOEIC test as part of job-seeking activities seems to be increasing, particularly among university and college students.

Progress in the establishment of private language schools

At what age does English education begin in Vietnam, where the need for English is rising? The school system in Vietnam consists of preschool education, five years at primary school (which corresponds to elementary school in Japan), four years at lower secondary school, and three years at upper secondary school, university and college, and graduate school. English education begins at the primary school level. English is taught for several hours a week in the higher grades of primary schools. In recent years, more and more private language schools are being established in urban areas. In addition to working adults, students who want to improve their English attend these schools. There seems to be a growing enthusiasm for the study of English. Jessie Nguyen Vu Hong Anh of TOEIC Vietnam says that the need for English is rising rapidly. The number of people who study English is expected to increase further.



English proficiency becomes important with the entry of numerous foreignaffiliated companies into Mexico

As Jose Kuribreña of the Mexico Representative Office says: "At most companies, as English proficiency is one of the criteria for hiring and promotion," which means that English ability is becoming of paramount importance in Mexico, even though Spanish is the official language. Mexico started maquiladora, a bond system, in 1965. Under this system, a bonded factory can get a refund of the customs duties paid on imported materials and parts at the time of product export. As a result, the number of foreign companies starting up operations in Mexico began to increase, mainly in manufacturing industries. Since the foreign capital law was revised in 1993 to drastically deregulate foreign capital investment, the entry of foreign companies has accelerated, and the need for English proficiency has correspondingly increased.

The Mexican subsidiary of Siemens, a German manufacturer of electrical and electronics appliances, requires a TOEIC score of 850 points at the time of hiring. The TOEIC test is now being used at 73 companies in Mexico. Mr. Kuribreña says: "Companies that use TOEIC as a standard of English proficiency for all jobs within their organizations are increasing in number since the starting of the TOEIC test in 2002." With the growing need for English, enthusiasm to learn English is also rising. Among schools under public management in Mexico, English begins to be taught at the lower secondary level; however, there are many elementary schools under private management that teach English. Even some kindergartens reportedly teach English. In Mexico, as in Japan, the starting age of English education is becoming


younger and younger. At present, students represent about 20


percent of TOEIC examinees. Fourteen universities and colleges have adopted TOEIC.

TOEIC test being used at 97 companies and 212 educational institutions

In Brazil, the TOEIC test began in 2001. Since then, the number of TOEIC examinees has been increasing steadily. Brazil is 22.5 times larger than Japan and has a large workforce and abundant natural resources. While a great many foreign-affiliated companies are operating in the country, the number of Brazilian companies launching overseas operations has also increased in recent years. The TOEIC test is increasingly being adopted and 97 companies have utilized the test. They are diverse in their operations, including industrial companies like IBM and Mercedes Benz, and consulting firms, for example, PWC and Accenture. The reasons for using the TOEIC test are also diverse: as a yardstick for employment, pay raises and promotions, and for measuring the results of English training; as a criterion for particular jobs, sending employees on overseas business trips, appointment to foreign posts, and for screening employees for study abroad.

At the Bank of Brazil, a state-owned bank, for example, employees who want to work overseas are required to score 750 or more on the TOEIC test. As is evident from the fact that about 60 percent of TOEIC examinees are working adults, the TOEIC test is being used extensively in the business world. The test is also spreading in the field of education and around 212 schools have adopted the test. In the educational arena, many students studying at language schools sit for the TOEIC test and the percentage of TOEIC examinees is highest at these schools. In Brazil, foreign languages are taught from the elementary level, which corresponds to elementary and lower secondary education in Japan. Each school has the right to choose which languages it wants to teach. However, many


schools choose English because it is part of the entrance examinations of many universities and colleges. Because the educational system is undergoing vast reform, learning is also being actively pursued at foreign language schools.The number of cases where the TOEIC test is used at general foreign-language schools appears to be increasing.



TOEIC score used as a yardstick for hiring

The TOEIC test is also taking root in Europe. Many globally operating companies with business establishments in Europe (about 2,000 companies) use the TOEIC test to rate their employees' English proficiency and measure the effect of English training. At big corporations that typically have affiliated companies under them, such as Accenture, Coca Cola, Renault, PSA Peugeot Citroen, the TOEIC score is used as a measure of English proficiency, since a certain level of proficiency is necessary for employees in their work. While TOEIC is used in the business world, the use of the TOEIC test in education is also spreading. In France, TOEIC was first

introduced at technical schools, business schools, and vocational schools in the early 1990s. For example, the achievement of a specific TOEIC score was considered to be a demonstration that students had successfully completed English programs in a business school network. Later, technical colleges and other types of schools also moved to adopt TOEIC. In Europe, there are an increasing number of cases where job applicants, particularly students, include their TOEIC scores on their CVs and take the TOEIC test on their own initiative as a way of demonstrating their English proficiency. The use of TOEIC is expected to spread further at renowned business schools, universities and colleges, and other European institutions.







The Institute for International Business Communication is dedicated to helping people communicate successfully in the global business environment. Printed in Japan


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